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Prosecutor in Phoenix quits amid criticism of performance

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The top county prosecutor in metro Phoenix has announced she is resigning from the elected post amid criticism of her performance, including the dismissal of 180 misdemeanor cases because charges were not filed before the statute of limitation expired.

In a statement released Monday, Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel said her resignation is effective late Friday afternoon. Adel, a Republican and the first woman to be elected to the position, said winning the office was an honor.

She was appointed to serve as metro Phoenix’s top county prosecutor in October 2019 and later won the office in November 2020.

Adel underwent emergency surgery on election night for a brain bleed. She was back full-time by the following spring. In August, she went to rehab for alcohol abuse, an eating disorder and other issues. In September, she confirmed she was working remotely from an out-of-state treatment facility.

Last month, chiefs of five criminal divisions in her office called into question Adel's ability to do her job by rarely being in the office, showing signs of being inebriated during phone calls and not providing leadership. Adel responded by saying she wasn’t planning to resign and that she vehemently disagreed with their characterization of her.

Last week, Adel faced tough criticism for the dismissal of the 180 misdemeanor cases, such as drunken driving, domestic violence, assaults and criminal damage incidents.

Asked about the dismissals, Gov. Doug Ducey had said leaders should take accountability for their actions and not blame their employees. Adel then apologized to the victims in those cases and said she takes responsibility for what happens in her office.

On Monday, the Republican governor issued a statement saying he respected Adel’s “difficult, brave and very personal decision.”

Adel’s office and the Phoenix Police Department also were criticized heavily in a now-discredited gang case brought against demonstrators at an October 2020 protest against police brutality.

Lawyers hired by the city to investigate the failure said authorities didn’t have credible evidence to support the claim that protesters were members of an anti-police gang. Adel had acknowledged that her office made mistakes in the case.

In the near future, county officials will appoint a person to serve as interim county attorney, and an election will be held later this year to elect someone to complete the final two years of Adel’s term. Candidates have only two weeks to collect signatures to appear on the ballot.

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