/ Modified aug 14, 2020 5:08 p.m.

Pima County attorney on 24 years in office, transitioning leadership

Barbara LaWall was the first woman to be elected to the role in 1996.

After more than 20 years on the job, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall will leave her post at the end of the year. Last October, LaWall announced that she would not seek a seventh term. We spoke to her about what she sees as her impact as the county’s top prosecutor.

“I think one of the things that I’m most proud of is the creative and innovative programs that I’m going to leave behind, that I hope are built upon,” LaWall said. She highlighted the Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center as one of her greatest achievements. The center has expanded over the years since LaWall took office and provides resources for children who are the victims of abuse. She said she would have liked to continue growing services to include families and adult victims of domestic violence.

LaWall also refuted criticism that her office has been too hard on drug crimes by pointing to diversion programs it has deployed.

“I have like 13 diversion programs that deal with diverting people from prosecution. People who are arrested on drug offenses,” LaWall said. “I have never prosecuted anyone for personal possession of marijuana since 1996. That hasn’t happened if it’s up to two pounds of marijuana. That’s a huge amount.”

LaWall said she emailed her presumed successor Laura Conover about meeting members of the attorney’s office to help with Conover’s transition into the role.

“It’d be really important for her to take me up on this offer,” LaWall said. “People are very anxious to meet her. They want to know who their new leader is going to be.”

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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