Interim Maricopa County attorney Rachel Mitchell focused on restoring public’s trust
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Interim Maricopa County attorney Rachel Mitchell sat down with Arizona’s Family’s Nicole Crites on Thursday afternoon to discuss the office, the public and the upcoming special election. Mitchell says her top priority is to restore the public’s faith in the office.
Mitchell knows the stakes are high for her to prove herself before the fall election. She was one of the five top division chiefs to sign a letter asking Allister Adel to step down from her position as the state’s top prosecutor. Mitchell says they asked Adel to step down to focus on her sobriety. “We wanted to do what was ethically right. We wanted to be compassionate. But our duty ultimately was to the citizens of this community. And we felt like that was the thing that we had to do,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell said she is working hard after the office dropped nearly 200 criminal cases in March. Since the cases, which involved drunk driving, assault, and domestic violence, were not assigned within a year of the alleged crimes, they were dropped and can’t be prosecuted in the future. Adel released a statement on March 16 apologizing for the dropped cases and took full responsibility for the mistake. A few days later, Adel announced she would be resigning. “It’s just unacceptable that that happened,” said Mitchell.
Currently, the attorney’s office is still under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office. Mitchell is also answering to the Department of Justice after the office filed gang charges against protestors picketing to stop police violence in Phoenix.
With staffing down 20%, Mitchell says getting senior oversight of the cases is crucial, and she’s working hard to recruit and fill open positions. “The prosecutors in this office are overwhelmed,” she said.
Mitchell hopes the public will look at her record and give her the chance to fulfill their trust before the August election. “If I quit today, I could look back at my career with my head held high and say I’ve accomplished a lot for a lot of people. And people need to understand what a great place this is to work. But they need to have the faith to understand that,” she said.
Just over a week ago, the board interviewed all three Republican candidates, including Anni Foster and Gina Godbehere before choosing Mitchell. Foster recently announced she would be dropping out of the race for county attorney but says she fully backs Mitchell. The GOP primary winner will move on to likely face Julie Gunnigle, the only Democratic candidate on the ballot in the August primary election.
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