Originally Published: July 6, 2013 6:01 a.m.
PHOENIX - Former Deputy Yavapai County Public Defender John R. Thornton Jr., sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to one count of attempted aggravated assault, has been suspended from practice for two years by the presiding disciplinary judge of the Arizona Supreme Court, a spokesman said.
Thornton, 52, was arrested after a November 2011 incident at a Prescott bar in which police said Thornton, after being asked to leave, shoved a bouncer.
About 15 minutes later, a police report said, the bouncer was off work and got into the passenger seat of a car driven by a friend. When the car stopped at an intersection, Thornton reportedly walked up, pulled a handgun and pointed it at the bouncer through the car window. The bouncer pushed the gun away and told his friend to drive off.
Police located Thornton in the 100 block of North Granite Street and took him into custody. According to the police report, during an interview, Thornton denied having a gun while he was in the bar, said he did not point it at the bouncer and was not asked to leave the bar.
Thornton was put on administrative leave from the Public Defender's Office and subsequently resigned.
The suspension is retroactive to Nov. 19, 2012, State Bar Spokesman Alberto Rodriguez said, and Thornton will also have to pay $1,200 to the bar for the costs of the investigation.
If he wants to be reinstated, he will be placed on two years' probation and be required to take part in the bar's Member Assistance Program, Rodriguez said.
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