Week 34, August 27, 2021


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This was a very busy week, and I noticed a theme about wearing two hats. The front pages...

This was a very busy week, and I noticed a theme about wearing two hats. The front pages of the newspaper and scenes from TV and movies portray prosecutors as warriors in perpetual battle arguing homicide cases. That is part of the job — a critical part, in fact; however (luckily), it’s but a fraction of what our people do.

Allow me to let this week demonstrate:

  • Professor Paul Bennett of the University of Arizona College of Law visited me to discuss the beginning of their academic year and the arrival of a new group of law students who will ostensibly function as prosecutors in training here at PCAO. Mark Hotchkiss, our Major Crimes Bureau Chief, has been involved for years now as a Clinical Professor of Law, supervising law students. Mark and Mike Lester were congratulated two weeks ago for one of several recent successful guilty verdicts in a homicide trial. And it’s also the Professorial hat that Mark wears every day that will help build the next generation of strong, ethical, compassionate prosecutors.
  • Keith St. John is the Chief of our Detectives Unit. He is an Arizona POST-certified detective for our Office. But I’ll let Chris Ward explain, as he did in an email to me, a second hat that Keith wore this week: 
    • “I got to my desk first thing Tuesday, and I heard the sounds of loud, angry voices 12 floors below me in Jacome Plaza. Two kids were locked in an argument with a man and woman who had a cart of items right on the corner. The older man was quite angry and yelling. This went on for a few more seconds before the man and one of the kids squared off about 10 feet apart. I then saw a guy who looked like Keith St. John (it was, in fact, Keith) cross the street and walk to the corner, and then walk toward Jacome as he talked into his walkie talkie. He calmly approached both parties and immediately de-escalated the situation. Keith spoke to all parties separately, watched them go their separate ways, and made what could have been an ugly situation just go away like magic.”
  • Also this week, our Victim Services Division had their first in-person, masked training inside the Abrams Public Health Conference Room on Tuesday night. As a lifelong learner and supporter of the VS Division, I quietly sat in the back and watched 30-plus new recruits from our community begin a long, in-depth process to become crisis and court volunteers. This diverse and talented group is adding four more languages in our ongoing quest to make PCAO more accessible. It was a joy to watch our Victim Advocates Sheila Fitzgerald, Kristen Dever, and Carol Elliot lead the training and explain the two hats of victim advocacy: caregivers for those in trauma, and caring instructors of Victims’ Rights and the process victims must endure throughout the life of a case. At the end of the training, I had a surprise reunion with Maria Avila. About 20 years ago, Maria and I studied together in Guadalajara as UArizona students and we had, sadly, lost touch. She heard that I signed up for the training and surprised me with our class picture. I learned that Maria, retired now, has been an overnight crisis volunteer for this Office for the last three years. Que milagro! What a blessing to live in this caring community.

To be continued,

#AZGOHS #PimaCounty #ItTakesAVillage

Laura Conover

Laura Conover

Pima County Attorney