by Tom Joyce
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors appointed county prosecutor Rachel Mitchell as its County Attorney on Wednesday in a unanimous vote.
Mitchell has served in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for 30 years. Most recently, she served as the head of the Criminal Division.
Members of the board offered praise for Mitchell’s record.
“Rachel Mitchell is a distinguished and experienced prosecutor with deep knowledge of the County Attorney’s Office – both its strengths and the areas which need improvement,” Chairman Bill Gates, District 3, said in a press release. “She is the person best suited to make an impact at MCAO immediately due to her strong relationships with current staff, her professionalism, and her prosecutorial acumen.”
Vice Chairman Clint Hickman, District 4, agreed.
“The County Attorney’s Office needs stability at the top, and they need it right now,” Hickman said in the press release. “Rachel Mitchell has served this county honorably for three decades and has served as chief prosecutor once before. I’m confident she will represent residents and this Board well in the coming months.”
Mitchell said that she is happy to take the position and continue serving the Arizona people.
“I am honored the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has faith and trust in my ability to lead one of the largest prosecution offices in the country as your next Maricopa County Attorney,” Mitchell said. “I will be an engaged leader and look forward to restoring the trust of our community, law enforcement, and everyday Arizonans. For the last 30 years, I have successfully prosecuted some of the most heinous crimes, delivered justice by standing up for victims and their families, and fairly applied the rule of law to ensure violent criminals were held accountable. This office means so much to me, and I look forward to showing up every day to make it better.”
While the board supported her appointment, the ACLU of Arizona did not. The ACLU’s problem with the decision: Mitchell is a Republican running to serve a full term as county attorney.
“The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) desperately needs a leader who will clean up the corruption and misconduct plaguing the office, not someone who will be busy campaigning in the upcoming election,” ACLU of Arizona Smart Justice campaign strategist K.M. Bell said in a separate press release. “Voters must be allowed to decide who the next Maricopa County Attorney will be – without the huge advantage that incumbency provides.”
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is the country’s third-largest public prosecutorial agency. It has over 900 full-time employees, including attorneys, investigators, paralegals, victim advocates, and support staff.
The County Attorney’s Office prosecutes felonies that happen in Maricopa County and all misdemeanors that occur in unincorporated areas.
Additionally, the County Attorney is the legal counsel for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and all County departments. The position was vacated when Allister Adel resigned earlier this spring amid a string of controversies and health scares. State law says the board must pick a replacement to serve until the next election.
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