Wednesday, November 30, 2022 9:09 pm

In Arizona’s attorney general race, courtroom experience is an issue. Here’s how the candidates compare

Abe Hamadeh l(eft) has said he prosecuted at least a dozen trials in court. The Republic could not verify that number, though. /Screenshot || AzFamily

By Tara Kavaler || Arizona

Either Republican Abe Hamadeh or Democrat Kris Mayes will become Arizona’s next attorney general after the Nov. 8 election.

A key issue in the race has been experience, namely prosecutorial experience, with each contender making claims about the other’s background. 

While this has arisen as an issue on the campaign trail, the day-to-day job of the attorney general does not involve much prosecution. The attorney general oversees prosecutors, acts as counsel to state agencies, protects consumers and represents the state in front of the Supreme Court. 

Although it may seem an easy question — what experience does each candidate actually have in a courtroom? — obtaining definitive answers was not simple. After weeks of research, some of the record still is incomplete.

Here’s what The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com was able to learn about the prosecutorial experience of Mayes and Hamadeh.

Hamadeh has prosecuted trials

The Republic confirmed that Hamadeh, a former Maricopa County prosecutor, actually took cases to trial and acted as first chair, meaning he was the lead prosecutor on the case.

The Republic reviewed a portion of one of Hamadeh’s performance evaluations from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, from mid-2019 through mid-2020, which Hamadeh provided. The candidate did not give The Republic copies of all his evaluations. According to the partial performance review, Hamadeh took five trials to court as either first or second chair during that one-year period. He worked for approximately three years in his position. 

The Republic  asked the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for the number of cases Hamadeh took to trial, the number of times he was first chair, as well as other questions pertaining to his record.

In an email, the office responded by writing, “Unfortunately, we do not have that information. The way our case management system works, we don’t have a report that pulls the number or names of cases that a particular county attorney has covered.” 

Hamadeh has said he prosecuted at least a dozen trials in court. The Republic could not verify that number, though.

Some other news outlets have incorrectly reported that Hamadeh has never prosecuted a case in court. Many of those rely on the Arizona Supreme Court’s eAccess portal, which contains database of cases. The portal includes, among other records, cases from Superior Court since 2010. The cases referred to in Hamadeh’s evaluations were held in Superior Court, but eAccess does not include them.  

The Arizona Supreme Court said the system does not include cases with confidential information, such as those involving minors. Hamadeh told The Republic that this pertains to some of his cases. Hamadeh also said he has prosecuted cases in justice courts, which would not appear in the database.

Mayes’ experience with Corporation Commission

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