ABC's Jim Avila's Interview With Andrew Thomas, District Attorney, Maricopa County

JIM AVILA: Oh, it's right here at the transcript (sic).

ANDREW THOMAS: Well, that's fine. But here's the thing: This Judge…there is no way a court…a …a judge in a court of competent jurisdiction in this state can accept a guilty plea unless they believe the uh, defendant is guilty.

JIM AVILA: I mean, he …

(Overlapping Comments)

ANDREW THOMAS: They're just not allowed to do that. I mean, that's (Inaudible)…

JIM AVILA: He did accept the plea.

ANDREW THOMAS: Right.

JIM AVILA: Of showing a Playboy magazine to another 16 year old. What he didn't accept was exactly what you're doing now…trying to stain the boy with child pornography…

ANDREW THOMAS: No.

JIM AVILA: …charges…

ANDREW THOMAS: I disagree.

JIM AVILA: …that you could not prove. That's what he says right here.

ANDREW THOMAS: I disagree. Well, with all due respect to the judge it's his job not to accept a guilty plea if he really thinks that the person is innocent.

JIM AVILA: And you know what he did?

ANDREW THOMAS: That's his job.

JIM AVILA: You know what he did?

(No response heard.)

JIM AVILA: He invited the defense attorney to appeal. And he did appeal.

ANDREW THOMAS: (Laughter)

JIM AVILA: And within days, the judge overturned it and said…

ANDREW THOMAS: (Laughter)

JIM AVILA: …that the plea agreement was not right. Because he said…he said that…I've read the pre-sentence report, and my memory of the comments that went back and forth about the underlying discussions for a factual basis of this pleading are perhaps a little big…bit different than what the states articulated.

ANDREW THOMAS: (Laughter) So the judge admitted a mistake.

JIM AVILA: What he said was, you guys have been good…have…have…have…have agreed to this plea agreement. The state won't do anything else but this. But mr. defense attorney, come back to me and I'll take out the sex crime part. And that's what he did.

ANDREW THOMAS: Uh huh.

JIM AVILA: What does that say about what you guys were trying to do?

ANDREW THOMAS: Tells me the judge admitted he made a mistake. That's all it tells me.

JIM AVILA: It doesn't tell you that you… you tried to hold onto a case you couldn't prove?…I guess here's my skepticism about that: here you are, a hard line guy. You campaign, uh, against this crime. You kept some kid you believe actually downloaded child pornography, this heinous crime. You believe you can convict it in court, and you don't do it.

ANDREW THOMAS Well, we think there's a reasonable likelihood of conviction. Uh, and that's how we felt when we filed the charges. Now, you…you've got to understand, in the criminal case, there is give and take. I mean, the defense attorney is going to come to the prosecutor and say, "Well, I know you've charged him with X, Y and Z, but are you aware of this, are you aware of that?" That give and take process occurred. And he had a…uh, had an outstanding attorney who, uh, worked with our office. Uh…talked to our prosecutor, our staff about various, uh, issues.

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