On Wednesday, August 23, 2023, the Supreme Court of Arizona disbarred attorney Thomas M. Baker for violating various ethical rules.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Thomas M. Baker,” with case no. SB-22-0086-AP,
The charges cited Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct 1.7(a) 1.6(a), 1.8(b), 1.9(c), 1.16(a)(1), 8.4(c), and 8.4(d ), and, as to Count Two, Respondent violated ERs 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 3.2, 8.4(d), and Rule 54(d).
Baker’s misconduct was revealed during an evidentiary hearing where it was discovered that he had represented both Mr. Borowsky and Mr. Brooks in a civil and criminal case simultaneously, creating a conflict of interest. Baker’s statements during the hearing indicated his involvement in tampering with testimonies to favor Mr. Borowsky, which he referred to as “busting Brooks/Johnson relationships.”
Additionally, Baker shared privileged information with Mr. Borowsky without obtaining proper authorization from Mr. Brooks, compromising attorney-client privilege and breaching confidentiality.
Based on the evidence presented, including Baker’s own statements, the disciplinary panel determined that his actions violated professional standards regarding conflicts of interest and confidentiality.
Baker appealed the panel’s decision, contesting the ethical violations in Count One and arguing that the imposed four-year suspension was excessive. The State Bar of Arizona cross-appealed, advocating for disbarment as the appropriate sanction.
The Court upheld the panel’s findings of ethical rule violations. Regarding the sanction, Baker claimed that the suspension was too severe, suggesting a maximum suspension of six months. The State Bar contended that the panel erred in applying the American Bar Association Standards and that disbarment was warranted under ABA Standards 4.21, 4.31, and 4.61.
The Court agreed that there were seven aggravating factors and two mitigating factors supported by the record. It concluded that the intent to benefit oneself or another through the misconduct, as established by the State Bar, aligned more closely with ABA Standards 4.21, 4.31, and 4.61, making disbarment the appropriate sanction.
Accordingly, the Court ordered that Thomas M. Baker be disbarred from the practice of law, effective thirty days from the order.
The Disposition states:
“IT IS ORDERED affirming in part and reversing in part the decision and sanctions of the hearing panel. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED Thomas M. Baker is disbarred from the practice of law, effective thirty days from this order.”
According to Avvo, Mr. Thomas attended California Western School of Law. Prior to the disbarment, he practiced in Phoenix, Arizona as a criminal defense attorney. He acquired his law license in Arizona in 1991.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.