Today, The Pima County Attorney’s Office entered into a landmark agreement with the Pascua Yaqui tribe to support public safety in Pima County by authorizing a special tribal prosecutor to jointly prosecute criminal cases in state court.
County Attorney Laura Conover joined Pascua Yaqui Chairman Peter Yucupicio, Attorney General Alfred Urbina, and the tribal prosecutor’s office at the Pima County Board of Supervisor’s meeting where the Intergovernmental Agreement was approved.
The IGA comes after County Attorney Conover and Chief Deputy Baird Greene visited Pascua Yaqui leaders to address a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that for the first time permitted county prosecutors to try cases involving non-tribal defendants accused of crimes on tribal lands.
The agreement creates a Special Deputy County Attorney to act on behalf of the State of Arizona in cases held in Pima County Superior Court, ensuring that Pascua Yaqui victims are appropriately served when criminal trials are held outside tribal or federal courtrooms.
After inquiry, Conover gave a real-world example: “We prosecute cases where Pascua Yaqui tribal members might be victims of violent crime, and by having a tribal prosecutor co-try a case, we can so better serve the victim while also providing greater transparency and accountability for how we serve tribal citizens,” Conover said. “We are delivering on our promise as the People’s Office to serve all of us, not just some of us.”
Pascua Yaqui Attorney General Urbina touted the agreement as “a model program” for tribal entities nationwide and credited PCAO for initiating the discussion leading to the partnership.