What is the Pima County Attorney?
The Pima County Attorney is an elected public servant with a four year term of office. Their next election takes place in November, 2020. This person is the chief elected prosecutor and one of two (along with the Sheriff) chief elected law enforcement officials in Pima County. Our current Pima County Attorney is Barbara LaWall. She has been in office since 1997.
What does the Pima County Attorney do?
The Pima County Attorney has two main jobs. First, they are the chief prosecutor for Pima County. They prosecute all felony crimes that occur in Pima County, and all misdemeanor crimes that occur inside county lines, but outside of municipalities like the City of Tucson. Second, they represent Pima County in civil lawsuits. When a person sues Pima County in a land dispute, or a wrongful termination case, or a personal injury case, the Pima County Attorney represents and advises the County Board of Supervisors on the best way to handle the lawsuit.
Why should we care about who the County Attorney is?
The Pima County Attorney has almost total control over which citizens get prosecuted for which crimes. The County Attorney also has total control over which defendants get offered plea agreements to less-serious charges. This means that the Pima County Attorney decides who gets probation, who goes to prison, and how long they go to prison for. All of this is critically important, but the most important reason we should care about who we elect as our county attorney is that the position affects the lives of everyone who comes into contact with the Pima County justice system. The County Attorney decides who loses their home in a forfeiture action, and who gets locked up behind steel bars. These are monumental responsibilities. A good County Attorney can keep our streets safe, our children secure, and our justice system honest and fair. But a bad County Attorney can cause immeasurable harm. They can demoralize hard-working cops and prosecutors, put innocent people in prison, and destroy families. A bad County Attorney makes our community less safe and less fair. None of us want to live in a community like that.