Questions Mount Over Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel & Death Penalty Cases | Attorneys for Freedom Law Firm

Questions Mount Over Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel & Death Penalty Cases

Attorney Marc J. Victor

Adel was appointed to serve as Maricopa County Attorney in 2019. Her appointment as Maricopa County Attorney came after her predecessor, Bill Montgomery, was appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

At the time of her appointment, officials say Adel is the first woman to serve in that position, though another woman held the post on an interim basis after Montgomery’s resignation. Prior to her time as County Attorney, Adel worked as a prosecutor, administrative law judge, and general counsel for the Arizona Department of Child Safety. She was elected to the position in her own right in 2020, defeating Julie Gunnigle in the General Election that year.

Under Arizona law, only the elected county attorney can approve notices of intent to seek the death penalty. Since she took office in 2019, Adel has signed off on 17 notices of intent to seek the death penalty, compared to 41 notices for Adel’s predecessor from 2010 to 2012, and 89 for Montgomery’s predecessor, Andrew Thomas, from 2005 to 2007.

“The county attorney is the most powerful person in the justice system, hands down. More powerful than the judge, more powerful than the defense lawyer. Prosecutors have an unbelievable amount of discretion,” said Marc J. Victor, a criminal defense attorney and managing partner of Attorneys For Freedom.

Victor says he expects other defense attorneys with clients facing the death penalty to put the pressure on MCAO amid Adel’s mounting controversy.

“I would expect nothing less of competent criminal defense lawyers in this state,” said Victor. “They’re not gonna sit by idly and let their clients be treated without scrupulous attention to due process.”

Victor also talked about other possible ripple effects.

“I guess the initial threshold question is: was she competent and fit for duty at the time she made these kinds of decisions? said Victor.

“Of course, defendants should be concerned. Of course, victims should be concerned. Family members of victims should be concerned, but all citizens should be concerned,” said Victor.

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