Defense attorney Richard Gaxiola gets results and makes headlines in the pursuit of justice

Advocate for the Underdog 

Defense attorney Richard Gaxiola gets results and makes headlines in the pursuit of justice.

By Becky Antioco

Richard Gaxiola is one of the Valley’s most prominent criminal defense attorneys. He’s nothing if not tenacious, looking a client’s case from every angle to find the best defense, the strongest evidence, and the best strategy to bring to court.

While he’s been at the center of several high-profile cases, you’ll never have a Gaxiola Law Group jingle running through your head after a morning commute, or see a pithy sales pitch in a television commercial during a daytime talk show. Gaxiola is about results, not appearances, and lets his firm’s work speak for itself.

Gaxiola has been practicing law since 2000, working in the Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender before joining the boutique law firm Alex & Gaxiola, P.C., where he managed the law team and became lead defense attorney. He started Gaxiola Law Group in 2012, and focuses strictly on criminal defense.

Gaxiola Law Group employs three additional attorneys who share the philosophy of “doing the work we get paid to do.” That includes dedication to each individual case and client, exploring every angle, finding every witness, testing out every defense strategy. He’s chosen them to work at his firm on the basis of prior experience, their strong ethics and work product, and the level of dedication to the research that goes into providing the best possible defense.

“I would encourage anyone looking to hire a criminal attorney to do some critical research. It’s important to find the right, experienced lawyer who operates with high standards and gets results. Not someone who is just a ‘used car salesman’ with flashy ads but little experience,” he says.

And getting results is what Gaxiola is all about. He’s known for his tenacity, his advocacy on behalf of his clients, leaving no stone unturned, to uncover the truth and to get the best deal for his clients, some of whom the public may view as outcasts, or unworthy of the effort. He’s aware of the sometimes negative light cast upon defense attorneys, but believes that everyone deserves to have someone in their corner, upholding their rights and searching for the truth.

In an interview with the Phoenix New Times where he discussed some of his more infamous cases, including several involving the Hells Angels motorcycle club, Gaxiola explained, “The thing that sets defense attorneys apart is that we don’t judge. We acknowledge the inequities in our system of justice and life, in general. We have a broader perspective on what’s important.”

Gaxiola has made headlines on numerous occasions, including when he and Phoenix attorney Andrew Alex took on then-county attorney Andrew Thomas. Some may remember that Thomas had targeted several judges, bringing up criminal charges and RICO accusations. Gaxiola and Alex argued that Thomas’ office should be disqualified from cases involving these judges. Thomas resigned as county attorney to run for attorney general, but not before a special master was appointed by the court to investigate the matter.

Gaxiola grew up in the mining town of Morenci, Arizona. In 1983, the copper strike against Phelps Dodge resulted in a clash between the company and the striking miners. The National Guard and Arizona Department of Safety were deployed to restore order. In the aftermath, several miners, including Gaxiola’s father, alleged civil rights violations by DPS and the National Guard. Gaxiola had a front-row seat to the federal court proceedings in Tucson, sparking a fascination with the court process.

Years later, he recounted significance of that experience to the Phoenix New Times, explaining, “I think I was always on the underdog’s side, as long as I could remember. And witnessing [civil rights litigation] in a federal court, it gives you some sense that there is a remedy to address these kind of things, rather than violence.”

Gaxiola Law Group’s office is located in North Phoenix, away from the bustle of downtown, but they take on clients and defend cases throughout the state of Arizona.

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