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Maricopa County Attorney Adel's top deputies send letter calling on her to resign, 12 News has learned

Letter from criminal division chiefs is gravest threat to her leadership. Adel has asked for public's patience as she deals with alcoholism.

PHOENIX — The top five criminal prosecutors in Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel's office have called on her to resign, in a letter that amounts to a vote of no confidence, according to three people who reviewed the letter but weren't at liberty to disclose its contents.

12 News has learned the letter was delivered Monday to Adel, the Maricopa County Board, and the State Bar of Arizona, which handles lawyer discipline. 

Adel and her spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

The letter from Adel's five criminal division heads marks the gravest threat to her leadership of one of the nation's largest prosecutorial offices. 

The Republican county attorney is responsible for charging decisions that include whether to seek the death penalty against a defendant.

The office has come under harsh scrutiny for its decision to charge 15 Black Lives Matter protesters with felonies. The charges were later dropped, and Adel now faces a defamation lawsuit by the prosecutor on the case.

Over the past two weeks, Adel's sobriety and command of her job have been called into question by her former communications director, a Republican former county attorney, and the Republican County Board chairman

In response, Adel has asked for the public's patience as she deals with alcohol addiction and an eating disorder. 

“I was elected by the people to do the job and we’ve made some significant strides and it’s unfortunate that someone’s personal recovery journey has to be so politicized,” Adel told KTAR radio last week. 

Adel told KTAR she is fit to continue leading the office.

“I am absolutely an alcoholic," she said. "That’s why when I get myself into a situation where I’m concerned or even have a craving I immediately pick up the phone and call my sponsor, call my therapist."

RELATED: Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel discusses alcoholism, responds to criticism

Last fall, Adel was forced to disclose she had been seeking treatment for two weeks for dependency anxiety, alcohol abuse and an eating disorder.

Adel went public after Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone learned she was in rehab without having alerted fellow county officials. He questioned how she could lead the office remotely.

Adel was elected to a full-four year term in November 2020. But on election night, Adel was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery to treat a brain bleed. She returned to the office two months later.

Adel had been appointed to the office in 2018 by the County Board, filling a vacancy left by Bill Montgomery.

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