Article Provided by: AP News
PHOENIX (AP) — A sex-crimes prosecutor tapped by Senate Republicans to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about allegations of sexual assault could have a tough time in such a contentious political environment, Arizona attorneys who know her said Wednesday.
But her boss says Rachel Mitchell is a hard-hitting attorney who is used to handling high-profile cases and is one of the few prosecutors in the country with a deep understanding of working with sexual abuse victims.
Mitchell, a Republican, was expected to question Kavanaugh and the first woman to accuse him of sexual misconduct at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh drunkenly assaulted her when they were teenagers has raised a political storm in the #MeToo era, and the GOP’s all-male presence on the panel made some want a woman to question Ford.
Mitchell is chief of the Special Victims Division in the Maricopa County attorney’s office in Phoenix. She supervises attorneys who handle cases involving child molestation, sexual assault and computer crimes against children in Arizona’s most populous county.
“She is about evidence-based approaches and isn’t an activist on one side or the other,” said Matt Long, a private Phoenix attorney who once worked for Mitchell and now handles sex abuse cases. “She is rare: a career prosecutor who is bound to issues rather than politics.”
But, he added: “There is nothing in this process to make me comfortable that this process is about fairness, truth and evidence.”
Arizona defense attorney David Michael Cantor said the choice of a longtime sex-crimes prosecutor to question Kavanaugh and his accuser was “ironic.”
“If she gives him a pass, if she doesn’t dig down and get the guy to squirm, it could hurt her reputation,” said Cantor, who runs the Phoenix law firm DM Cantor. “But if she grills both of them equally, she’ll be a superstar.”
Mitchell has not responded to requests for comment sent through the county attorney’s office.
Since Ford came forward, allegations from two other women have emerged. But Republicans have not announced any plans to focus Thursday’s session on those claims. Kavanaugh has denied all the accusations.
Rick Romley, the former top county prosecutor in metro Phoenix who was once Mitchell’s boss, praised her for a career devoted to helping victims.
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