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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Maricopa County DA resigns amid controversy and health issues

Allister Adel's resignation came after heightened criticism from Arizona’s governor and attorney general.

PHOENIX (CN) — Embattled Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel announced her resignation Monday after less than two years in office.

Adel’s resignation effective Friday comes amidst lawsuits and increased scrutiny across the state over her actions as boss of the nation’s third-largest prosecutorial office.

"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," Adel said in a statement. "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."

Adel’s fall from grace started soon after her election, with her handling of protesters who claimed her office manufactured felony charges against Black Lives Matters protesters by subjectively classifying the protesters as gang members.

Critical leaders of the movement faced heightened gang and rioting charges, aside from the standard illegal assembly and hindering traffic charges after protests frequently bled into traffic and roadways in downtown Phoenix.

In August 2021, the Department of Justice announced an investigation into the prosecutors. The investigation is ongoing.

In February, former county prosecutor April Sponsel brought a defamation suit against Adel after the DA suggested Sponsel acted independently in the gang prosecutions. Sponsel claims Adel tried to make her the scapecoat.

Perhaps the straw that broke the camel's back involves a recent report by the Arizona Republic which found Adel failed to file timely charges in 180 criminal misdemeanor cases, effectively letting the statute of limitations expire.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, demanded an explanation for the lapse.

"I am concerned that justice will not be secured for crime victims," Brnovich wrote in a letter to Adel this past week. "Additionally, the failure to pursue these charges has nullified the hard work of law enforcement and peace officers working these cases."

Republican Governor Doug Ducey also criticized Adel in a statement after she blamed her staff for the lapse. He demanded she take responsibility for the oversight.

Adel has described her struggles with sobriety and physical health amid increased calls from the public to hold leaders accountable for politically motivated public safety and legal abuses.

Since 2020, Adel, a Republican, has had two brain surgeries. Adel underwent emergency surgery on Election Day for a blood clot in her brain that saw her hospitalized for two months. She later had surgery to relieve pressure in her brain following complications.

Adel also checked into a rehabilitation facility last year to treat an eating disorder and alcohol abuse.

Ducey thanked Adel, the first woman elected to the position, shortly after she announced her decision.

"Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel made a difficult, brave and very personal decision," Ducey said in a press release. "I respect her choice and wish her and her family the best. I want to thank her for service to the people of Maricopa County."

Ryan Tice, one of the targeted 2020 protest defendants praised the announcement. Police arrested Tice in his home in 2020 after tracking and surveilling him in person and online following the social justice protests.

“I think it’s a good step in the right direction,” Tice told Courthouse News. “There’s a lot more to be done in uprooting the corruption in our government in Maricopa County and Arizona, but this is definitely a good start. Adel was unfit for the job and she proved that countless times.”

The chief deputy attorney will fill in until the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors appoints an interim attorney for the remainder of Adel's term.

Follow @themikemcdaniel
Categories / Criminal, Regional

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