Interim Maricopa County attorney says restoring community trust is top priority

Apr 27, 2022, 11:01 AM | Updated: 11:05 am

PHOENIX – Rachel Mitchell said her top goal as the newly appointed interim Maricopa County attorney is to rebuild trust between the community and her office.

“The number one priority, honestly, is to restore the trust of the community, because the criminal justice system has to represent them and they have to feel confident in that,” Mitchell told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday, one week after she was sworn into a job she hopes isn’t temporary.

“And so we have to make sure that they understand that we are being fair with everyone, appropriate but holding people accountable at the same time.”

On April 20, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors selected Mitchell to run the nation’s third-largest prosecutorial agency following the departure of Allister Adel, who resigned last month after a tumultuous tenure.

Mitchell, who has been with Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for three decades, said the transition has been going as expected.

“I’m a known commodity in the office,” she said. “I’ve been a supervisor there and so I have the support of the office. I’m also doing regular communications with them.

“I’m present and they know I’m present.”

Mitchell said another high priority is to work on MCAO’s relationship with law enforcement.

“We’re in the process of setting up a summit, not with a huge agenda on my part other than to listen to their concerns, but also to talk about some ways that we can improve that relationship and just to have that face time,” she said.

“That was one of the concerns, that there was no communication.”

Adel resigned not long after it was revealed that her office was forced to drop nearly 200 misdemeanor criminal cases because it didn’t file charges on time. She also faced accusations from within the department that her alcoholism was affecting her performance.

In another high-profile controversy from the Adel era, MCAO filed gang-related charges against 15 people arrested at a downtown Phoenix Black Live Matters demonstration in October 2020. A judge later dismissed the cases and said police and prosecutors had engaged in “egregious misconduct.”

The Board of Supervisors interviewed the three Republicans who filed petitions to run for the Maricopa County attorney vacancy before choosing Mitchell for the interim gig.

One of the other candidates, Anni Foster, general counsel for Gov. Doug Ducey, dropped out of the GOP race after Mitchell’s appointment. That left Mitchell and Goodyear City Attorney Gina Godbehere in a head-to-head primary on Aug. 2, with the winner to face the lone Democratic candidate, Julie Gunnigle, in the Nov. 8 general election.

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Interim Maricopa County attorney says restoring community trust is top priority