Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel takes responsibility for dropped cases

Mar 16, 2022, 8:54 PM | Updated: 9:50 pm
(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Attorney's Office)...
(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Attorney's Office)
(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Attorney's Office)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel took responsibility Wednesday for 180 criminal cases her office was forced to drop after charges weren’t filed before the statute of limitation expired.

“I take full responsibility for everything that happens within this office,” Adel said in a statement. “To the victims of these cases, I apologize. Victim’s rights is a pillar of my administration and I will endeavor to ensure this error does not happen in the future.”

The statement comes a day after Gov. Doug Ducey called for accountability in the office, saying the dropped cases are “unacceptable.”

“I think leaders should take accountability for their actions and not blame people on their team,” Ducey said. “The police officers that put their life on the line every day and the victims of these crimes deserve justice.”

Adel originally told the Arizona Republic in an email that the shortcoming was a “failure of a few employees to timely complete their assigned tasks or alert their supervisors that there was an issue.”

“The governor is absolutely correct that the line prosecutors are the unsung heroes of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office,” Adel said. “All the employees of this office are dedicated public servants who strive for justice every day.”

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone also criticized Adel’s office on the matter, in line with Ducey saying that he felt for the victims of the cases that were not prosecuted.

Penzone, speaking on behalf of Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Col. Heston Silbert, said the two found nothing to “mitigate or exonerate the breadth of this deficiency.”

He added the two also spoke with Adel, who assured them the problem would be corrected in the future.

Adel’s office said in a statement on Monday that resources have been redirected to ensure the error does not happen again.

Among the misdemeanors dropped were cases of drunk driving, domestic violence, assaults and criminal damage that happened in 2020, with most being initiated by DPS and led by Silbert, the county sheriff’s office and Penzone.

The latest incident continues what has been a tumultuous year for the embattled county attorney.

Five MCAO criminal division chiefs sent a letter last month to Adel asking for her resignation, accusing the Republican of continuing to drink following treatment and letting the problem bleed into her work performance.

Adel fought back against those claims, saying she wouldn’t resign and accused the chiefs’ concerns to be centered around their dislike of the way she is running the office.

She defeated Democratic challenger Julie Gunnigle in the 2020 election to remain in the position she was appointed to after taking over for Bill Montgomery, who he left for a seat on the state Supreme Court.

Adel spent election night in the hospital having emergency surgery for a brain bleed, the result of an earlier fall at home.

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Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel takes responsibility for dropped cases