The Barbara LaWall Era is coming to a close at the Pima County Attorney’s Office.
First elected to the Pima County Attorney office in 1996, Ms. Lawall served twenty years in the office as a Deputy before becoming its leader.
She has decided to retire after her term runs out in 2020.
Three Democrats, Laura Conover, Mark Diebolt, and Jonathan Mosher are competing for the party’s nomination to succeed LaWall.
Conover, an attorney who built her own law firm, Conover Law PLCC, wants to breathe a new sense of purpose and direction into the County agency after 40 years under the same leadership. She told Tucson Local Media that she would like to “come in and “re-energize” the environment…..to hire and train “new, talented” trial attorneys and then give them prosecutorial discretion and satisfaction to stay and build a career…..”
Also representing the Ninth Circuit to the Board for the Federal Bar Association, Ms. Conover took time to discuss her reasons for running, qualifications, and goals for the Pima County Attorney Office should she win in the August primary and November general elections.
The questions and her responses are below
- Please tell the reader about yourself and give at least two reasons you are qualified to serve as the next Pima County Attorney?
“I am a lifelong Tucsonan and Democrat. My mother fell in love with the Old Pueblo and never wanted to leave. She made me learn Spanish, so I could live, and play, and work with all of our community, not just some. It opened the door to a broad and diverse background in my criminal justice career. In the last four years, I have built my own private practice. I have worked on defense and consulting with businesses to hire former prisoners and return them to the workforce. I have worked as a victim’s advocate, which gave me a whole new perspective in the areas in which we must do more for victims.
Almost two years ago, federal judges appointed me to represent nearly 400 contract attorneys in federal court, predicting an oncoming government shutdown. Indeed, the government did shut down, and these attorneys and these attorneys had to come in, honor the constitution, and work unpaid. That gave me a lot of management (especially personnel) experience. That experience grew in later months with a regional measles epidemic that hit the detention facilities in Pinal County. Little did I know that my experience then would help me meet the challenges of the current Coronavirus. Leadership and Management experience are essential to this position. I have become uniquely qualified to steer a large agency through even the toughest of times.”
- Please tell the reader two reasons you would like to become the next Pima County Attorney.
“It is a unique opportunity in time to bring the kinds of reform the community is hungry for, as the current administration is coming to a 44-year close. We need to deal with the public health crisis of addiction and mental illness properly, through treatment, at a third of the cost, instead of continuing to try to prosecute our way out of the problem.”
“With those freed resources, we could go after the true drug criminals: the higher-level dealers.”
“At the root, we are going to stop playing the numbers game of seeing if we can break the record each year for felonies filed as we did last year, and as we are on track to do again now. And in so doing, we will save a fortune and be healthier.”
“Critically, we are also going to build the first financial crimes unit in that office in the last 20 years. We are going to attack financial fraud and scam head-on.”
- Please tell the reader what are at least two of the most important duties of the Pima County Attorney?
“This is not a courtroom job. The County Attorney is the head of the largest law agency in Southern Arizona. I would be an available and accessible community partner to neighborhoods, probation and pre-trial, to behavioral health, and law enforcement. Strengthening and building these collaborations is the only way to get these reforms enacted.”
- Please tell the reader at least two reasons you would be a better County Attorney than the other contenders?
“The concern over the last 44 years is that it is time now for change. Good work was accomplished, and now we must desperately move forward to meet current needs. We have the heads of Homicide and Violent Crime, disciples of the previous Steve Neely and Barbara LaWall administration, running to continue the same four decades of the old policy. Being engaged in the community, I can say that we are ready for outcome-driven policies and reforms. The careers of my opponents equal a 50 years combined commitment to violent crime, only the most extreme cases to ever affect us, which could lend itself to tunnel vision and give a distorted vision of our beautiful community. What I think I am offering is the experiences of a life long Tucsonan with a diverse legal background who is engaged with the heartbeat of the community. Violent crime prosecution is critical, but it is one percent of the overall responsibilities and obligations of a true head of the office. We need a true leader.”
- If elected, what will be at least two goals you will have as Pima County Attorney?
“The most important is that I am the only candidate talking about the fraud and scamming going on around the county. Creating that financial crimes unit by hiring lawyers with forensic accounting backgrounds will be essential. Furthermore, we will be striving to emphasize treatment over incarceration in individuals with substance abuse and mental illness. We need a strong Pima County Attorney as a voice who educates the Legislators at the State Capitol about the costs of the private prison system. Finally, bail and release depend on whether the accused is a violent risk to society or a flight risk, not whether they can pay a cash bond and release back out into society.”
Laura Conover would bring a new perspective and vitality to the Pima County Attorney’s office.
She has a progressive and positive worldview about justice that voters should find refreshing.
She is a candidate the people should seriously consider when deciding who they want as their legal advocate at the head of the Pima County Attorney’s office.