Rick Romley says challenge awaits next Maricopa County attorney, would consider interim role
Mar 21, 2022, 5:30 PM | Updated: Mar 22, 2022, 11:54 am
PHOENIX – Former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley said Monday challenges await the next person to hold the role following Republican Allister Adel’s resignation, adding he would consider the position on an interim basis.
“The next county attorney is going to have a real challenge,” Romley told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad. “It’s going to take a new county attorney a lot of effort to begin to rebuild the office, the trust in the community and with law enforcement as well.
“The new county attorney has a heavy lift.”
Romley served as Maricopa County’s top prosecutor from 1989 until 2005 and once again for six months in 2010 after former county attorney Andrew Thomas was disbarred.
He believes the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors with Adel’s replacement is looking for someone who would want to run again for the office in the August primary after the appointment, which Romley wasn’t interested in.
Romley said he would consider stepping in on an interim basis or coming back as a senior advisor because he cares deeply about the office.
“I gave my life to it, I believe in that office,” Romley said. “I’d help out everybody because it’s just too important of an office.”
He said whoever takes over the office, which is required to be a Republican per state law, has to be ready to hit the ground running.
“My personal feeling is it has to be somebody within the county attorney’s office that is well respected or somebody that’s been at the county attorney’s office and knows it,” Romley said. “The problems are so significant, you can’t have a lawyer that may be a great lawyer but doesn’t know how to run the county attorney’s office come in and take a year to learn how to do the business.
“The new county attorney is going to have to juggle a lot of balls and do a lot of different things all at once, so they better know what they are doing.”
Romley added he believes the deputies will step up in the office if the right candidate is selected.
The five MCAO criminal division chiefs sent a letter in February asking for Adel to resign. They accused her of continuing to drink after going through treatment last fall and that it was affecting her performance leading the office. Adel fought back against the claims and accused the chiefs’ concerns to be centered around their dislike of the way she was running the office.
It was then revealed last week that Adel’s office had to drop 180 criminal cases after charges weren’t filed before the statute of limitation expired, an issue Adel took responsibility for.
The issues of the office may go deeper than that as Romley said he’s heard from numerous individuals about a backlog of felony cases.
Romley said the backlog of cases is partially due to the inability to hire new attorneys, which is another hurdle for the person who takes over the role.
“You’ve got to rebuild the trust in the office that this is a good place to come and work,” he said.
Adel’s resignation, which she announced Monday but did not mention a specific reason for, will be effective at the end of the week.