12 Arizona county attorneys call for Gov. Hobbs to rescind executive order on abortion prosecution
Jul 3, 2023, 8:30 PM | Updated: 8:59 pm
(Arizona Governor's Office Photo)
PHOENIX — Twelve elected county attorneys are calling for Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs to rescind her executive order, which strips the state’s 15 county attorneys from prosecuting abortion-related cases.
In a letter to the governor, the attorneys stated the duty and discretion to conduct criminal prosecutions for public offenses rests with them unless a statute specifically provides otherwise.
The attorneys want Gov. Hobbs to rescind Section 1 and portions of Section 2 of the order by Friday.
Christian Slater, communications director for Gov. Hobbs office, released a statement on Twitter saying the order will not be rescinded.
We will not rescind this order. Governor Hobbs will continue to use her lawful executive authority to put sanity over chaos and protect everyday Arizonans from extremists who are threatening to prosecute women and doctors over reproductive healthcare. https://t.co/9uw1xxVtnC
— Christian Slater (@slaterchrisj) July 4, 2023
Section 1 of the order gives prosecutorial authority over abortion-related cases solely to the attorney general. However, the attorneys said in the letter the executive order suggests any Arizona governor can order the attorney general to assume all duties related to an entire category of criminal prosecution.
The attorneys said the order sets a “dangerous precedent,” by interfering with the discretion of prosecutors, according to a press release Monday.
“This executive order results in an exercise of authority not vested in the governor’s office. It is a substantial overreach to suggest the governor may strip away prosecutorial discretion from local, elected officials,” the attorneys said in the press release.
Section 2 of the order directs state agencies not to assist in investigations by other states into crimes related to reproductive health care that would not be punishable under Arizona law.
The attorneys said in the letter the restrictions would limit access to criminal history records or crime lab support and state agencies do not include any county-level government officers and agencies.