Top deputies at Maricopa County Attorney’s Office asking Allister Adel to step down

Adel's division chiefs laid out their case in a three-page letter that raised ethical questions about her sobriety, long absences from work and judgment.
Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 3:19 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2022 at 4:09 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Five of the top prosecutors at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office are demanding Allister Adel step down but she says she isn’t going anywhere. Adel’s division chiefs laid out their case in a three-page letter that raised ethical questions about her sobriety, long absences from work, and judgment.

The letter also was sent to the State Bar of Arizona and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors as a “first step” in what could potentially lead to further actions. “(W)e believe the content of this letter may require further investigation that we are not equipped to conduct,” the letter stated.

On Tuesday afternoon, Adel said in a statement she respects the attorneys’ opinion but “vehemently” disagrees and has no plans to resign. “In an office of over 1,000 employees, it is not surprising that there are some who do not agree with every decision I make. I accept the current challenge with humility and will continue to do what I think is right and just for the citizens of this community,” she said.

On Nov. 30, 2021, some of the members of the MCAO and the chief deputy met with Adel to go over their concerns stating that “you had been drinking after getting out of a treatment facility,” according to the letter. The letter mentioned that her personal life is none of their business usually, but it becomes their business when it affects the work the MCAO is doing. To them, Adel admitted in that meeting that she had relapsed a couple of times and agreed to continue treatment along with not doing any business while being impaired. They also asked for Adel to be in the office more regularly, which she allegedly agreed to but didn’t.

Five of the top prosecutors at the Maricopa County Attorney's Office are demanding Allister Adel step down but she says she isn't going anywhere.

“The scrutiny on this office is unprecedented. We have an amazingly dedicated staff who work tirelessly to seek justice and to protect the citizens of Maricopa County, yet they often find MCAO under a microscope for exaggerated scrutiny,” the letter states. “Our employees are the epitome of a modern, scrupulous and dedicated workforce. They get it right infinitely more often than wrong, despite personnel shortages, a global pandemic, and ever-changing technology. It is incumbent on all of us to support them and to provide an environment wherein they can do their jobs without the unnecessary disruptions that have been so frequent lately.”

Deputies who signed the letter

  • Division Chief of Specialized Prosecution II Division Chair and Ethics Committee, Barbara Marshall
  • Division Chief of Juvenile Crimes Division, Elizabeth Beringhaus
  • Division Chief of Training Division, Ryan Green
  • Division Chief of Trail Division, Jason Kalish
  • Division Chief of Specialized Prosecution I Division, Rachel Mitchell

They met with a consultant and others over their concerns in recent weeks. They were informed of other “unsolicited information from people inside and outside the MCAO office that grew their concern. They say they have also found discrepancies between her statements that were made to the media and other statements she has made. In addition, they say Adel has made what they feel are irrational decisions.

“This letter asking for your resignation is the first step. We are copying the State Bar and the Board of Supervisors because we believe the contents of this letter may require further investigation that we are not equipped to conduct. This does not mean that our duties under Policy 10.5(C)(3) have ceased. To the contrary, until the situation is resolved, we believe it is our duty to continue to investigate as we are able.”

“My office is taking seriously the letter we received from five division chiefs at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office regarding County Attorney Adel, Chairman Bill Gates of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors said in a statement to the media. “State law generally holds county elected officers accountable to voters, not to boards of supervisors, but we will seek outside legal counsel to ensure we fully understand our role in this matter.”

What if she resigns

The president of Copper State Consulting Stan Barnes says the top spot on the county attorney’s office is important. “It’s tough to watch. I mean, she’s obviously struggling with personal issues to have inner circles people and former mentors to come out and ask for her resignation. It is dramatic in the political square; I feel for her,” he said.

If Adel resigns, state law says the county Board of Supervisors would appoint someone. In 2019, Adel herself was appointed. The board created a citizen’s review board to go through the people applying. We’re working to find out if a similar group would be used again. We do know the board would make the final call.

Adel says she has no plans to resign. But Barnes thinks some people who want the job are preparing anyway. “They see the present county attorney is on the precipice. I would imagine even now, there are people that aspire to that job and anticipate an appointment will be coming and already beginning to lobby,” Barnes said. “In terms of day-to-day lives for people that live in Maricopa County, this is one of the most important roles there is. It’s a very powerful position.”