Allister Adel Named Interim Maricopa County Attorney

By Katie Campbell, Bridget Dowd, Mark Brodie
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2019 - 10:32am
Updated: Friday, October 4, 2019 - 1:08pm

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Allistair Adele
Maricopa County Attorney's Office
Allistair Adel

Attorney Allister Adel has been named the interim Maricopa County attorney by a unanimous vote of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. Adel will  be the first woman to hold the post in county history. 

She will serve out the remainder of now-Justice Bill Montgomery's term. Montgomery was appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey to the state Supreme Court in September, leaving the office open until the 2020 election and inviting a host of candidates who have already said they will run to replace him. The term will expire in January 2021. 

But for now, the leadership of the office falls to Adel, a former county prosecutor with at least 20 years of legal experience who worked with the state Department of Child Safety and the Department of Transportation before consulting with private businesses and nonprofits for the last four years. 

Eight candidates applied for the top prosecutor’s job after Montgomery joined the state Supreme Court, and a seven-member citizen committee was responsible for selecting recommended candidates — Adel was among those standouts.

The supervisors chose her over current Chief Deputy Rachel Mitchell, who immediately assumed leadership of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office following Montgomery’s departure. Mitchell became a household name after playing a part in Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings last year. 

Maricopa County District 1 Supervisor Jack Sellers said they had a pool of very talented candidates - which include Mithcell as well as two other attorneys currently working at the County Attorney’s Office - but Adel was the best choice. 

“I think she will serve our constituents well, the county and justice well. I look forward to working with her.”  

And Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted his congratulations, adding, “I look forward to working together and build upon our work with the County Attorney’s Office and keep Maricopa County safe.”

The governor’s statement seemed to reflect on the recent history of the office-holder; Montgomery was active at the state Legislature, particularly with regard to criminal justice measures he disagreed with.

The procedure leading up to Adel’s appointment drew criticism even before she was sworn in.

Attorney Julie Gunnigle, a Democrat who has declared her candidacy for county attorney, took to Twitter to decry what she described as a “rushed and far from transparent” process.

“We deserve a county attorney who is accountable to the people and works to improve a system that needs reform,” Gunningle wrote. 

“While the movement for criminal justice reform in Maricopa County is growing, we have work left to do to protect our communities while continuing to be tough, smart, and fair,” she added in a separate tweet. “I’m not giving up the fight anytime soon.”

Gunnigle will get her chance to take her fight directly to Adel in the 2020 election cycle — along with the other candidates who have also indicated they will run. 

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