A well-known defense lawyer, who also served as Tombstone’s city attorney, has been prevented from practicing law because of either a physical or mental disability or impairment possibly caused by drugs or alcohol, a judge's order shows.
The designation placed on Paul Randall Bays — disability inactive status — is not a sanction, according to Rule 63 under Arizona Revised Statute, even though Bays is under investigation by the State Bar of Arizona, said spokesman Alberto Rodriguez. Rather, it is “designed to ensure the protection of the public and rehabilitation of the lawyer,” the rule reads.
“The transfer to Disability Inactive Status is not permanent and Mr. Bays can apply for a transfer back to active status if ‘the lawyer’s mental or physical condition has been removed and the lawyer is fit to resume the practice of law.’ Rule 63(g), Ariz. R. Sup. Ct.,” Rodriguez said in an email Friday.
“In Mr. Bays’ case, the discipline investigation has not been stayed and will continue in normal course. Currently, there is no additional public information regarding the pending bar charges.”
The order, signed Thursday by William J. O’Neil, Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the State Bar of Arizona, says: “IT IS ORDERED PAUL R. BAYS, Bar No. 013479 is transferred to Disability Inactive Status, effective immediately, pursuant to Rules 63(a), 63(b)(3) & (5), Ariz. R. Sup. Ct., as he is incapacitated or impaired and unable to discharge his duties to clients, the bar, the courts, or the public.”
Bays, who has practiced for several years in Sierra Vista and had an office on Seventh Street, could not be reached Friday. The phone number listed for him has been disconnected and an email sent by the Herald/Review went unanswered.
The offenses he pleaded guilty to — aggravated assault and false imprisonment — occurred on March 8, 2019, when Bays grabbed a woman’s cell phone through the driver’s side window of her car while the woman was recording him with the device. The second charge occurred after Bays drove his vehicle in front of the woman’s car and blocked her as she was leaving her driveway.
The indictment lodged against Bays in March 2019 lists eight charges, but a plea agreement in August posed by special prosecutor Elizabeth Ortiz of Maricopa County offered to drop six of the eight offenses.
That plea deal was withdrawn after Bays violated the terms of his release twice.
Bays was arrested by Cochise County Sheriff’s deputies after authorities said he was involved in an altercation outside the victim’s house, to include shutting a car door on the woman’s arm. Bays was arrested on March 9 hours after the altercation at his home, authorities said.
While Bays’ pretrial release conditions included no contact with the woman, Bays was accused of violating that twice, court records show. The most recent offense was last spring when Bays offered the victim $20,000 to drop the case, court records show. He also drove onto her property, which violated a prior protective order, prosecutors said in the complaint.
After the second violation occurred, Ortiz withdrew the plea deal offered in September 2019. In that agreement, the state said it would convict Bays of two “undesignated felonies” that included disorderly conduct and unlawful imprisonment, with probation available.
On June 8, Bays was sentenced by a Pima County Superior judge to serve 30 days in the Cochise County Jail. The incarceration would begin June 9 with one day of credit. Bays’ case was transferred to Pima County because he had practiced before judges in Cochise County Superior Court over several years.
The sanctions Bays could still face in his disciplinary investigation before the State Bar of Arizona include diversion, reprimand, censure, suspension and disbarment, which is the most serious penalty.
Tombstone Mayor Dusty Escapule has long supported Bays’ employment with the city even after the attorney was arrested and convicted. Escapule has repeatedly said he would not change his mind unless Bays was disbarred.
Friday though, Escapule said Bays has not been Tombstone’s attorney for “the last eight months.” He declined to comment further.