AZ Bar

​Exposing the State Bar of Arizona


Got a Complaint against  the SBA?

Bob VanWyck

Andrew Thomas

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If you have been the "target" of the State Bar or if you know specifics about someone being targeted by the State Bar, please let us know.  They've dumped on you, it's time to get even.  Your stories will remain anonymous.

Someone said it best, "Dealing with the State Bar of Arizona is like getting raped and then having them order you to pay for it."

In any case, the complaint lapsed with the Phoenix PD, according to court documents, as the department apparently never received the e-mails in question.

But the Arizona Bar was on the case like a hog on a truffle. This ended in February with an "agreement for discipline by consent," wherein Wilenchik was put on a year's probation and agreed to attend anger-management classes.

According to the court record, Wilenchik acknowledged that his e-mails were "intemperate" and that "he reacted inappropriately to Complainant's provocations."

Judge William O'Neil, presiding disciplinary judge of the Arizona Supreme Court, admonished Wilenchik for his bad behavior and
ordered the attorney to reimburse the state bar about $1,200 for the cost of the investigation.

But now that Watts has recanted, Wilenchick's defense counsel Mark Goldman wants the court to set aside its admonition.

Goldman called it "astounding" that the bar was "using its scarce resources" to discipline a lawyer over such a picayune matter.

He pointed to a ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on a California rule, similar to Arizona's, that could result in discipline for an attorney's untoward actions.

The high court called the rule "unconstitutionally vague," according to Goldman.

"I have no idea how you can use offensive conduct as any way to discipline a lawyer," Goldman told New Times. "Wouldn't most of them [them] be disciplined on a daily basis?"

Goldman would know, given that he's a member of the bar himself. 

Granted, the original assertion, that Watts thought he and his family were going to be gang-raped by Wilenchik, as if Wilenchik was the real-life version of Robert DeNiro's psychopathic character Max Cady in the 1991 remake of Cape Fear, appears ludicrous.

On the other hand, now that Wilenchik is taking cases adverse to his former ally, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, perhaps he could get the sheriff (metaphorically, of course) to reprise Beatty's role.

Mark Goldman

William O'Neil

Dennis Wilenchik

Lawyer Victim of Bogus Complaint

Story from Phoenix New Times - Stephen Lemons
Earlier this year, the pugnacious, take-no-prisoners attorney was admonished by the presiding disciplinary judge of the Arizona Supreme Court for a series of blistering e-mails written between Dennis Wilenchik and ex-client Dwight Watts in April 2014, regarding a dispute over a consultation fee.

The e-mail exchange featured one response from Wilenchik that earned him a bit of infamy, once it was published as part of the court record.

"Ok drug dealer," Wilenchik wrote to Watts, who had a medical-marijuana consulting business. "I look forward to the many nights and mornings when you think of my name and squeal . . . Check out the movie Deliverance."

Cue "Dueling Banjos" and pass the fried chicken.

Watts since has signed a statement recanting his original complaint to the State Bar of Arizona, saying he was using the bar complaint to get out of paying Wilenchik.

"In no way was I offended by [Wilenchik's] conduct in reality," Watts declares in the document, adding, "In fact, I thought Mr. Wilenchik's last Deliverance e-mail to me was rather humorous."

The formerly disgruntled client confirmed to New Times via e-mail that the statement indeed was his.

In it, he praises Wilenchik as an attorney and asks that the high court's admonition of the barrister be reversed. 

He also asserts that his declaration was made "without  any incentive or remuneration or consideration other than to see justice done."

Watts had a different tale to tell to senior bar counsel Steve Little in 2014, when, according to Wilenchik's disciplinary record, Watts explained that he had reported the e-mail tiff to the Phoenix Police Department, in supposed fear of getting buggered by Wilenchik.

"The e-mails escalated throughout the evening to reach a finale of him threatening me with gang rape!" Watts wrote Little, later adding, "Myself and my family are terrified of this individual as he is very dangerous."

Watts was being a tad hyperbolic. There's no gang rape in Deliverance.

​​​Well, there could have been, but the character played by Burt Reynolds put an arrow through the heart of Beatty's rapist.

Dennis Wilenchik

Dan McAuliffe

Steve Little - SBA

Ernest Calderón

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Retaliation is related to nature and instinct, not to law. Law, by definition, cannot obey the same rules as nature.

Beyond that, Calderón is a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, appointed by Gov. Janet Napolitano in 2004, and the governor’s P-20 Council on education. He is a past or current board member of dozens of state and local organizations.
“Maybe he shouldn’t have filed the affidavit,” said McAuliffe, referring to Calderón’s written opinion.
Calderón said he wasn’t trying to defend Thomas when he wrote his opinion. The county attorney’s office paid him to get an unbiased perspective, he said.
“All I did was I issued my best judgment,” he said.
Still, McAuliffe, who said he did not vote on the decision to replace Calderón, added that the board’s choice was probably based on more than just the Thomas issue.
“It might be time for new blood,” McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe was among the State Bar leaders attacked by Thomas earlier this week. Thomas accused him of working with the State Bar’s investigators to go after the county attorney’s office, allegations McAuliffe denies.
Calderón said he believes the State Bar’s decision was made solely because of his work for Thomas.
Still, he said he will continue to care deeply about Arizona’s legal community, even after Friday’s body blow.
“I can’t even be angry,” Calderón said. “I’m just numb. I’m stunned.”

Retaliation By the Bar: They're Good

Ernest Calderón

Lawyer claims State Bar retaliating against him

Story from East Valley Tribune - Nick Martin
Posted: Friday, May 30, 2008 7:49 pm

A prominent Valley attorney says he is facing retaliation by the State Bar of Arizona for speaking out  against the organization’s wide-ranging ethics probe of Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

Ernest Calderón learned on Friday the State Bar plans to remove him from a position he has held  since 2004 representing the organization on the national stage.
The reason? “Because I said something positive about Andy Thomas,” Calderón said.
The lawyer was one of several who went on record with the Arizona Supreme Court this week

saying they thought the organization’s broad ethics inquiry of Thomas was unwarranted.
A Democrat, Calderón said he “never voted for Andy Thomas and I don’t agree with his immigration policy.”
Yet when the Republican county attorney asked him to take a close look at the details of the State Bar’s ethics investigations and give an independent opinion, he agreed to do it.
The resulting document was given to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, when Thomas asked the court to step in and halt the investigations.
As part of the request, Thomas took the State Bar and its leaders to task, accusing them of bias and launching some 13 investigations against his office because they don’t agree with his politics.
Calderón’s written opinion didn’t touch on the politics or what was fueling the investigations.
Instead, he focused on whether any of the State Bar’s probes had merit. Calderón felt qualified to make that call because he previously worked for the State Bar reviewing hundreds of similar investigations.
In one probe after another, Calderón determined none against Thomas were legitimate.
The county attorney used Calderón’s five-page opinion, along with thousands of other pages of evidence, to make his request to the Supreme Court.
Those five pages, however, apparently hurt Calderón at Friday’s monthly meeting of the State Bar’s governing board.
He was scheduled to be reappointed to the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates, a prestigious position given to four Arizona lawyers each year.
Delegates help the national organization decide its public policy. Calderón has served as one of Arizona’s delegates since 2004.

​At Friday’s meeting, though, the State Bar’s governing board unanimously decided to look for someone else to fill the post this year.
State Bar President Dan McAuliffe said he gave a short presentation about Thomas’ actions and the lawyers who had helped the county attorney. But he said he didn’t try to influence anyone at the meeting.
“Some people thought Ernie hadn’t been a very good friend to the Bar over the years,” McAuliffe said later.
But a friend to the State Bar is exactly how Calderón sees himself.
“I love the State Bar and I love the profession and I love the lawyers in it,” he said by phone from New York.
Calderón served as the organization’s president from 2002 to 2003, sat on the governing board for seven years and has served on many Bar committees.