reporter's notebook

A Little Bit About Rachel Mitchell’s Past

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September 27, 2018 6:00 a.m.

I did a little bit of poking around on Rachel Mitchell, the sex crime prosecutor in Arizona whom Republicans have tapped to lead their questioning during the Christine Blasey Ford-Brett Kavanaugh hearing Thursday.

She doesn’t have much of an online presence, besides an interview with a website affiliated with the Foundations Baptist Fellowship International, a Christian fundamentalist group. However going through old articles from Arizona newspapers, it’s clear that she’s been involved in a number of noteworthy sexual conduct cases there, including those involving a Catholic priest and an ex-cops.

I didn’t find her quotes in those stories to be particularly revelatory about the type of prosecutor she is. And while the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office — where she has worked — has been plagued with plenty of scandals, I didn’t find anything controversial about her record there.

She was also a candidate for a judgeship Maricopa County Commission on Trial Court Appointments in 2014.

Rob Delgar, an attorney who served on the commission that year, told me he “didn’t see any weaknesses” when considering her qualifications and that “we had nothing but positive comments.”

“She was well respected in the office in which she worked,” he said. “She was well respected by defense counsel.”

He did say he was a “little surprised” to see her named for Thursday’s hearing, given the “unique situation.” But he still thought she was “going to be more interested in what the actual facts” are in her questioning Thursday.

I got similar sentiments via email from Dan Raynak, a local defense attorney.

“I believe that Rachel was always fair when I dealt with her as a prosecutor,” he said, calling her abilities in trying cases “not exceptional, but good.”

“I do not expect her to be caustic or acerbic during questioning,” he said, adding that it was “interesting that she will now be questioning an alleged victim.”

Raynak said he was “surprised she was picked over a more aggressive prosecutor.”

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