Prosecutorial Predicaments

The Pima County Attorney’s race is heating up as the candidates—and their allies—fiercely try to discredit each other as mail-in ballots hit mailboxes last week

The Pima County Attorney's race is heating up as the candidates—and their allies—fiercely try to discredit each other as mail-in ballots hit mailboxes last week.

Last month, Chief Deputy of the Pima County Attorney's Office Amelia Cramer filed a complaint with the State Bar of Arizona—as a private citizen—against candidate Laura Conover over an apparent misrepresentation of the time length Conover has been an attorney.

Cramer said she takes issue with Conover's insistence she's been a practicing attorney for 17 years in campaign ads and public forums, despite graduating from law school 2005.

"She had stated different numbers of years that she had been an attorney," Cramer said. "I went to the state bar's website where they publish the dates of admission for attorneys and found a discrepancy there between what she is saying and what the state bar is reporting."

Conover maintains she's practiced law for 17 years, even while in law school due to Supreme Court Rule 38. At the time the rule allowed law students to practice while interning under the supervision of law professors. However, Supreme Court Rule 38 has since been updated to not allow students to practice law.

"I arrived in Superior Court in 2003 and started appearing in court, arguing cases, cross-examining witnesses and representing clients," Conover said. "That was a very big year for me and 18 months later I became licensed."

Intake Bar Counsel for the State Bar of Arizona Tom McCauley seems to agree with Conover in his response to Cramer's complaint on June 29. McCauley verified that the former rule did allow law students to practice at the time. However, Conover voluntarily pulled her ads to not add to the controversy and the state bar has closed the matter.

"Under the circumstances I do not believe we would have concluded that Ms. Conover's statement in the subject ad constituted a misleading communication," McCauley wrote in an email response to Cramer.

While Cramer might be chief deputy for the office Conover is trying to take over, she said she filed the complaint as a private citizen. Cramer is also a volunteer for candidate Jonathan Mosher, who is also chief criminal deputy for the Pima County Attorney's office.

Meanwhile, the Mosher campaign is facing its own potential violation of campaign laws after mailer a campaign flier without disclosing who paid for the advertisement or whether the mailer was approved by the Mosher. Local attorney Jim Fein filed a complaint with the Pima County Election Department.

Mosher strategist Rodd McLeod said the issue was due to a production oversight when designing the mailer. As soon as they noticed the mistake, McLeod said they notified the county elections department.

"It happened in the design process. It just got covered up by another layer," McLeod said. "The important thing is that any voter who receives it can clearly tell who sent it by reading the return address label."