Allister Adel, an attorney in private practice and former executive director of the Maricopa County Bar Association, will be Maricopa County Attorney for the next year.
After more than a day in executive session, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed Adel to finish off Bill Montgomery’s term as county attorney.
Montgomery resigned from his post one day after Gov. Doug Ducey appointed him to the Arizona Supreme Court on September 4. Chief Deputy Rachel Mitchell, who was also in consideration for the appointment, became acting county attorney after Montgomery’s departure.
Adel is the first woman to hold the job as chief prosecutor of the fourth largest county in the U.S. and already stated in her application she plans to run for election in 2020.
After taking her oath of office, Adel said she plans to serve the office and Maricopa County with “integrity and honor.” She said her first priority is to be briefed on all pending cases by senior staff and then she will take the time to meet members in the office.
“I’m going to walk the halls and introduce myself to the team,” she said.
Speaking on a list of harassment controversies the office has faced recently, Adel said she will take any and all allegations seriously.
“Things will be investigated and handled swiftly and appropriately, but justly.”
As the first woman to hold this job, Adel said she is honored, but says she didn’t earn the job for being a woman.
“I earned this based on my merits … I am a character-driven leader and I think that will shine through.”
During her short time at the Department of Child Safety, Adel made the news for sending the Governor’s Office a memo under the state’s whistle-blower statute regarding Ducey’s appointment of Greg McKay as DCS Director in 2015. The statute prohibits a government workplace manager from retaliating against an employee who alleges a violation of the law, mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, or an abuse of authority.
Mike Liburdi, Ducey’s general counsel at the time, confirmed it was Adel who sent the memo. The Governor’s Office refused to make her complaint public arguing it contained information considered attorney-client privilege. Liburdi said it’s because Adel has an attorney-client relationship with Ducey since DCS reports to the governor.
She previously told Yellow Sheet Report that as an outsider to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office she couldn’t say for certain whether she thought Montgomery did the job well while he was there, but she praised his dedication to seeking justice.
Adel said she would seek a stronger working relationship with the courts and law enforcement than Montgomery had.
“Especially as we start to have conversations about criminal justice reform,” she said.
Adel has held several different jobs since leaving the MCAO in 2011, including administrative law judge at the Arizona Department of Transportation, and general counsel for Arizona Department of Child Safety.
She also said she’s a big believer in transparency and will strive to ensure the media and the public are able to access public records through the office.
Montgomery had a shaky record when it came to fulfilling records requests in a timely manner during his tenure to the extent that the ACLU of Arizona sued him for not fulfilling records requests after a seven-month period.
“If we are doing our job right, we have nothing to hide,” Adel said.
Editor’s note: This story has been revised to include comment from Allister Adel and information on Adel’s background, including a whistleblower memo she wrote in 2015.