Attorney Allister Adel to resign amid controversy

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Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel speaks at a news conference in Phoenix on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. Jacques Billeaud / AP

The lead lawyer for the third-largest prosecutorial body in the U.S. will resign at the end of the week, her office announced Monday.

Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel said her last day in office would be Friday. 

“I am confident that the important mission of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office will continue,” she said in a statement, offering no explanation for the resignation.

First appointed to the position in 2019 and then elected in 2020, Adel was the first woman to hold the position of Maricopa County Attorney. Her health first came to light election night in 2020, when she fell and struck her head. She was later treated for a blood-clotting condition and recovered.

Adel’s office faces lawsuits from protesters arrested and tried as gang members amid 2020’s racial justice protests that saw businesses damaged and looted. Her office dropped the charges in June. According to the Arizona New Times, the county also is facing a federal inquiry over the matter. One of the attorneys involved later sued Adel for defamation over the matter being blamed on her.

“I am proud of the many accomplishments of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office during my tenure, including policies that seek justice in a fair and equitable manner, hold violent offenders accountable, protect the rights of crime victims, and keep families safe,” the statement said.

Adel admitted in September to struggling with alcoholism to cope with anxiety and an eating disorder. She spent time in a recovery facility while maintaining her duties but received criticism for being absent in important moments, according to the Arizona Republic. Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone acknowledged the issue, stressing Adel had to make the matter public, according to statements from Penzone’s office. 

The latest controversy involved news that her office failed to follow through with prosecuting 180 low-level crimes, leaving the charged to go untried. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich requested Friday a report from Adel’s office on why the cases slipped through the cracks.

The resignation announcement came hours after the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors met in executive session to discuss its possible options regarding Adel’s conduct.

Republished with the permission of The Center Square.