In her new role, Rachel Mitchell says she’ll look at claims of wrongful convictions, ethics violations for attorneys and accusations of police misconduct.
Starting Monday, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has a new unit that will handle complaints about police officers, attorneys and claims of innocence.
Longtime prosecutor Rachel Mitchell will be leading the new “Prosecution Integrity Program” as a Special Assistant to the Chief Deputy.
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From questioning Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing in Washington to putting former Mesa police officer Matt Driver behind bars for sexual abuse, Mitchell is no novice.
“You see everything,” she said in an interview Sunday morning.
She’s worked all types of cases as sex crimes prosecutor for the past 28 years in Maricopa County. In her new role, she’ll look at claims of wrongful convictions, ethics violations for attorneys, and accusations of police misconduct.
“Like a second set of eyes for the police,” she says.
In a case like the DPS shooting of Dion Johnson, which is already under review at the County Attorney’s Office, Mitchell says she can look to see if there might need to be changes made to prevent scenarios like an officer-involved shooting in the first place.
“The new role will be before we get to that point,” Mitchell explains. “Looking at the training issues, maybe issues of de-escalation.”
When it comes to claims of innocence, she says the first thing she’ll look at is to see if there’s improved DNA testing that could overturn a conviction. And if she finds an attorney might need more training or violates ethics, she’d take action.
“We have and we would refer a prosecutor to the state bar.”
Mitchell says having a point person for these kinds of concerns is a trend starting to pick up across the country and a role she’s glad to fill as calls for transparency and reform grow louder.
“I really think this is going to be a great step forward.”
Mitchell starts her new role Monday, July 27.