Friday, September 25, 2009

Is Andrew Thomas a benevolent prosecutor?

The Preface of Accidental Felons opens with: “This book contains many themes. It contains the joy of a newborn child, the heartbreak of a lost career, medical mysteries, death, and stories of survival. But, the overriding theme throughout this book is the abuse of political power by elected officials. “

Now, after 4 years of silence, the woman in the accident, Marion Phelan, has come forward to protest my portrayal of her in Accidental Felons and my portrayal of County Attorney Andrew Thomas throughout the book to the Phoenix New Times. Ray Stern supports County Attorney Thomas as being a benevolent prosecutor to the residents of Maricopa County.

An article like this (with photos) is difficult to address with sensitivity. It is indeed the Horns of a Dilemma that so much about this accident has been. Rather than being “tried by a tabloid” newspaper, I’ve uploaded Chapter 4 from the book that describes facts that Mr. Stern is apparently unaware of. I do find it curious that Ms. Phelan (now living in California) comes forward at a time when County Attorney Andrew Thomas is beginning his bid to become Attorney General of Arizona.

My description of Ms. Phelan’s condition the night of the accident, See Chapter 4, comes from the emergency room medical reports the prosecutor was using to prosecute the case. In that medical record, the following facts exist:

  • Ms. Phelan tested positive for opiates.
  • Ms. Phelan tested positive for the anti-psychotic schizophrenia drug Seroquel.
  • She told both the paramedics and the doctor that she was a recovering heroin addict.
  • She said that she was not in a great deal of pain.
  • The doctor said he gave Ms. Phelan a shot of morphine, the strongest narcotic in the hospital. He gave this as the reason she failed the drug test.
  • There is no record of a shot of morphine administered to Ms. Phelan in the medical record turned over by the prosecutor.

(Note: If a doctor administers a potent narcotic to someone who they know is an addict who denies being in a great deal of pain, it is a serious violation of medical procedure. If a doctor falsifies a medical record, it is a crime. If the county attorney’s office withheld some of Ms. Phelan's medical record – material evidence in charging a crime — it is a crime.)

  • There is mention of injury in the area of the collarbone that might be a fracture or a bruise, tests were inconclusive.
  • There is mention of a fracture to one bone of the foot by one doctor that is referred to as one bone in the ankle by another doctor in the ER.
  • The medical report isn’t conclusive if she had a sprained ankle.
  • One doctor describes Ms. Phelan as frail and undernourished.
  • There were no stitches, no surgery performed, and no life-threatening (serious) injuries mentioned in the emergency room medical record.

If I was unduly sketchy of Ms. Phelan’s injuries, I apologize to the reader. As I say in the Preface, this is not a book about Ms. Phelan or me, it is a book about the abuse of political power. I do believe that Ms. Phelan's statement to the prosecutor, as well as her refusal to come to the courtroom, influenced my plea agreement.

The second woman in the accident isn't mentioned a great deal, but I should note that she had 18 months to come forward with any complaint of injury or loss. She refused both to show up at sentencing or to file a claim proving loss or injury. The Pre-sentencing report indicates there were injuries that the medical records do not show. The pre-sentecing report is in error (a common occurance I have been told by attorneys).

Like many other county residents I met in jail, Andrew Thomas indicted me as a violent felon--the crime of intentionally attacking another person with a dangerous weapon and seriously injuring them--Aggravated Assault. A serious crime, only two classes below 1st degree murder, and 1 class below molesting a child. All these are laws carry mandatory minimum prison sentences and are intended to be used only against the most egregious predators in society, not the general population.

The book exists because I know in my heart that Andrew Thomas is using the residents of Maricopa County for nails as he builds himself a political resume to run for higher office. I know this because I've met dozens of county residents who had their lives severely damaged by this man's abuse of mandatory minimum sentencing.

While my experience shows me that Maricopa County's Attorney does little to serve society, he does a great deal to create the statistics he needs as a political "crime fighter" for a resume bereft of any such experience. There are hundreds more county residents silenced inside Arizona's for-profit prisons. Domestic disputes without blows = Aggravated Assault, DUI accident with any injury whatsoever = Aggravated Assault, and Post Traumatic Stress in a Veteran = Aggravated Assault. These are the stories that comprise the majority of the pages of Accidental Felons, not the auto accident I was involved in.

I merely present the facts, the reader gets to be the judge.

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