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Think Tank discusses upcoming Maricopa County Attorney race

Democrat Julie Gunnigle, left, is challenging Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel, right, for the job. (Campaign Photos)

The county attorney is arguably the most important position in the entire criminal justice system.

Judges can only preside over cases that are brought to them. And if someone is convicted of a crime, there are mandatory sentence guidelines that constrain what sentences judges may impose.

Defense attorneys have to defend their clients whether they think they are guilty or innocent. That is not a bad thing: it is their job and it is important, but it constrains their impact.

When a police officer arrests someone it is up to the county attorney to decide whether to prosecute or drop a case, whether to send the defendant into some sort of diversion program, and exactly what to charge. That is a huge amount of discretionary power.

Charges for many offenses can vary greatly with wide differences in penalties.

And most crimes in Arizona, particularly violent crimes, are handled by the county attorneys, not by the Arizona Attorney General.

This is a very important job.

Our guests in this week’s Think Tank are the two candidates for Maricopa County Attorney.

Current County Attorney Allister Adel was appointed to the position late last year when her predecessor was appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Her challenger is Julie Gunnigle. Their debate is the subject of this week’s Think Tank.

The Think Tank airs on KTAR 92.3 FM on Saturday 3-4 p.m. and Sunday 9-10 p.m.

Podcasts are available after broadcast.

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The Think Tank

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