Embattled Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel announces resignation
PHOENIX — Embattled Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel announced Monday she is resigning from her elected post, effective at the end of the week.
Adel didn’t mention a specific reason in her resignation letter, but the announcement gave some closure to a tumultuous period in office, including the recent disclosure that nearly 200 misdemeanor criminal cases had to be dropped because her office didn’t file charges on time.
“I am proud of the many accomplishments of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office during my tenure, including policies that seek justice in a fair and equitable manner, hold violent offenders accountable, protect the rights of crime victims, and keep families safe,” the letter said (see below for the complete text of the letter).
Adel, the first female elected to the position, sought in-patient services in Arizona for anxiety and “unhealthy coping behaviors,” including alcohol abuse, on Aug. 29.
A week later, Adel was transferred to a facility in California.
She revealed to the public on Sept. 10 she would be away from the office, 12 days after first seeking help for her problems.
Five days later, the Maricopa County Democratic Party called on Adel, a Republican, to resign immediately to focus on her recovery.
Calls for Adel to leave her post continued.
In February, five MCAO criminal division chiefs sent a four-page letter to Adel asking for her resignation, accusing the Republican of continuing to drink following treatment and letting the problem bleed into her work performance.
The division chiefs said they met with Adel on Nov. 30 to discuss drinking concerns with her, where Adel admitted to relapsing on two occasions, according to the letter.
During the meeting, the chiefs asked Adel to be more present in the office in order to alleviate concerns about her job performance, a request she agreed with.
Earlier in February, following reports that she’d been missing work, she released a statement saying she and her children contracted COVID-19 in January.
However, the letter says she was only in the office for “perhaps a few half days” from mid-December to the end of January.
“The totality of your actions have led to grave concerns with your ability to continue leading the third-largest prosecution agency in the country,” the letter read.
Adel responded, saying she found the criminal division chiefs’ concerns to be centered around their dislike of the way she is running the office.
“In general, I find your concerns to be that you do not like the way I run this office,” Adel wrote in a letter directed at the chiefs. “You do not agree with certain decisions I have made.
“You do not like that I run the office differently than you would if you were the elected county attorney. But you are not.”
Earlier this month, Adel and MCAO came under fire after prosecutors were forced to drop 180 criminal cases after charges weren’t filed before the statute of limitation expired.
Gov. Doug Ducey last week called for accountability from MCAO leadership in response, but stopped short of saying the agency’s top official should step down.
On Monday, he called Adel’s decision to resign “difficult, brave and very personal” and thanked her for her service.
“The men and women in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office have a tough and important job,” Ducey said in a statement. “They stand on the front lines of law enforcement in our state’s largest county. We stand with them and will continue to support them during this period of transition.”
The men and women in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office have a tough and important job. They stand on the front lines of law enforcement in our state’s largest county. We stand with them and will continue to support them during this period of transition.
— Doug Ducey (@DougDucey) March 21, 2022
Adel made headlines even before it was announced she spent time in a treatment facility.
She was hospitalized for a brain injury on Election Day in November 2020 after she fell at home, according to her office.
She underwent emergency surgery for bleeding in the brain and has since been recovering.
Adel defeated Democratic challenger Julie Gunnigle in the 2020 election to retain her position after she was appointed to replace Bill Montgomery, who left for a seat on the state Supreme Court.
In June, Adel’s office filed a motion to dismiss all charges without prejudice that accused protesters of being gang members during an October event last year.
Phoenix police and MCAO prosecutors told a grand jury the protesters met the definition of a criminal street gang because they wore mostly black, carried umbrellas and chanted “All Cops are Bastards,” according to court records obtained by ABC15’s Dave Biscobing.
Prosecutors also testified the protesters could be compared to gangs such as the Bloods, Crips and Hells Angels, Biscobing said in his report.
A week before Adel’s office filed the motion, a judge dismissed the charges with prejudice — meaning prosecutors could refile charges — and called out officials for their “absurd,” “baffling,” and “disingenuous” conduct.
Here is the full text of Adel’s resignation letter:
Today I announce my decision to resign as the Maricopa County Attorney effective Friday, March 25, 2022, at 5:00pm. Voters supported me in November 2020 as the first woman elected to be Maricopa County Attorney and it is an honor I will always cherish.
I am proud of the many accomplishments of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office during my tenure, including policies that seek justice in a fair and equitable manner, hold violent offenders accountable, protect the rights of crime victims, and keep families safe.
I want to thank the employees of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. I value and respect the work and dedication you give to this office. Few people genuinely realize, or appreciate, how hard this work is or how committed you are to serving the greater good, but I do.
Thank you to family, friends, colleagues, and voters who have offered their support and encouragement to me, either publicly or privately. Expressing my gratitude will never be sufficient but please know that you have been heard and that I am thankful.
I am confident that the important mission of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office will continue.
My dedication and service to my community does not end here.