APAAC Award Winners

     
 

2016 Support Staff Person of the Year
Misty Price
Executive Assistant

Misty Price is a consummate professional and the "backbone" of the Gila County Attorney's Office.  Misty has been employed with GCAO since 2002, and is currently the Executive Administrative Assistant to the County Attorney.  While Misty does an excellent job managing the day-to-day operations of the office, she excels in the courtroom where she takes copious notes during criminal trials.  In fact, Misty's notes are so accurate and detailed that prosecutors frequently ask to review them before cross examining defense witnesses.  A common practice among DCAs in our office is to ask Misty for a copy of her notes prior to putting the finishing touches on their closing arguments.  In 2015, Misty helped get justice in two of the most significant homicide cases in the history of Gila County.  In both cases Misty played a significant role in the prosecution and her adept note-taking helped the assigned DCA fashion effective and persuasive closing arguments.  Misty is an asset not only to our office and our community, but to the entire criminal justice system.

 

2017 Felony Prosecutor of the Year
(Small Jurisdiction)
Scott Bennett
Deputy County Attorney
Graham County Attorney's Office

Scott Bennett is an awesome prosecutor and an even better person! Scott carries a very heavy load and is a leader in our office.  Scott goes above his requested assignments by creating unity and is the consummate team player.  Scott is always willing to take on the most difficult cases and is the first person to help any prosecutor.  He is currently handling all of our very large sex and homicide cases.  Scott has obtained a conviction in every serious case he has prosecuted for our office.  One of Scott’s most amazing attributes is his ability to obtain convictions under extremely difficult circumstances.  Scott recently sent four different defendants to prison for a combined total of 155 years, making the streets of Arizona considerably safer to walk.
     
 

2017 Felony Prosecutors of the Year
(Large Jurisdiction)
Scott Blake

Assistant Attorney General
Arizona Attorney General's Office

Scott Blake is an accomplished prosecutor whose caseload involves complex and high profile cases. In the past year, Scott has completed three high profile trials.  Scott obtained a guilty verdict in State v. Zeitner, a lengthy trial involving Zeitner faking cancer to obtain AHCCCS’s payment for a pregnancy termination.  Scott also obtained a guilty verdict in State v. Nolte, which involved the defendant stealing over $500,000 in 1997 before assuming another person’s identity and fleeing the country.  Nolte was sentenced to 9.25 years in prison.  Scott returned to trial in a fraud case involving Zeitner defrauding two non-profit organizations that assisted veterans.  After a guilty verdict in this trial, Zeitner was sentenced to over 20 years incarceration.  Scott was instrumental in the prosecution of Mahin Kahn, which was the first successful prosecution under Arizona terrorism statutes.  Kahn pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years in prison and lifetime probation. 
     
  2016 Misdemeanor Prosecutor of the Year
Jessica Breedlove
Assistant City Prosecutor
Phoenix City Prosecutor's Office

The City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office nominates Jessica Breedlove for this year’s APAAC Misdemeanor Prosecutor of the Year.  Anyone that has worked with Jessica knows that she handles a variety of difficult and challenging cases with confidence and ease.  As a Community Prosecutor for the City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office she provides expertise in a variety of areas from liquor license hearings, Misdemeanor Repeat Offender Program (MROP) cases, neighborhood code enforcement cases, to legislative drafting and review.  From coordinating with other departments to secure dangerous properties to preventing the criminal activity in our communities, Jessica’s can-do attitude is an incredible asset to the Community Prosecution Bureau and the City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office as a whole, and she deserves to be recognized as this year’s APAAC Misdemeanor Prosecutor of the Year.

     
  2016 Juvenile Prosecutor of the Year
Rachel Phipps-Yonas
Deputy County Attorney
Maricopa County Attorney's Office

Rachel Phipps-Yonas is a tireless advocate for justice and for the victims of sexual abuse.  Her duties include reviewing and charging juvenile offenses, working with police during the investigative phases of cases, and handling those cases at the adjudication, disposition and registration phases.   Rachel interacts with various police agencies every month to facilitate communication between law enforcement and prosecution, which results in stronger cases and better outcomes for victims. As a senior adult sex crimes attorney, Rachel had an expansive background in her specialty.   Her transition to juvenile sex crimes prosecution has provided her with a comprehensive knowledge of the field.  Rachel is never complacent about her expertise or her career.  She is always alert to current practices, trends and training opportunities.  Rachel’s passion is admired and her work is respected by the juvenile community. 

     
  2016 Appeals Prosecutor of the Year
Jeffery Sparks
Assistant Attorney General
Arizona Attorney General's Office

Jeff Sparks is a Unit Chief in the Attorney General’s Capital Litigation Section, where he supervises a number of attorneys and reviews and edits their briefs.  In addition to these responsibilities, Jeff carries one of the Section’s heaviest caseloads.  In the past year alone, Jeff filed dozens of appellate briefs in capital cases in the Arizona Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States District Court, and argued at least once before each of those courts.  Jeff’s accomplishments include arguing the extraordinarily complicated case of State v. Mark Goudeau—the infamous Baseline Killer who murdered nine people—before the Arizona Supreme Court.    Jeff handles even the most complex capital cases with ease.  His writing is exceptional, his oral advocacy is outstanding, and he is an exemplary leader and mentor to newer attorneys.  Jeff is an asset to the Attorney General’s Office and to the prosecution community.

     

  

 

2016 Rising Star Prosecutors of the Year
David Ahl
Deputy County Attorney
Pinal County Attorney's Office

David Ahl is nominated for the rising star award for his phenomenal work in a short time as a prosecutor. In the past year – his first full year as a prosecutor – David tried 15 cases, 11 as first chair, with charges ranging from drug possession to aggravated assault and sexual exploitation. This is no small feat in a smaller county. Unlike most new prosecutors merely struggling to manage their own caseloads, David often solicited cases to try from other bureaus to sharpen his skills and ability. These included prison inmate cases, which are some of the most difficult cases to try given the unique witnesses and victims. Rather than avoiding such cases, David actively sought them out. In addition to his trial work, David demonstrated an extraordinary work ethic and a desire to learn far beyond his short years as a prosecutor. For these reasons, David is certainly a rising star in the prosecution community.

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Erin Pedicone
Deputy County Attorney
Maricopa County Attorney's Office

Many prosecutors shy away from the type of cases that Erin handles:  cases involving some of the most disturbing images imaginable (child porn).  Erin has embraced the challenge to fight for justice for this multitude of nameless victims.  She has developed in a very short time her skills as a prosecutor, a sex crimes prosecutor, and a prosecutor who specializes in this very difficult area. 

     
  2016 David R. White
Excellence in Victim Advocacy Award

Daniel South
Deputy County Attorney
Pima County Attorney's Office

Dan South has been a prosecutor with the Pima County Attorney’s Office since 2012. He is assigned to the Special Victims Unit, where he prosecutes sexual offenses committed against adults and children and child physical abuse cases.  He works with victims on a daily basis, spending countless hours gaining their trust and helping prepare them to testify in court.  During the last year, Dan prosecuted several serious and noteworthy cases, including a sexual conduct with a minor case with a four-year-old victim; a vicious stranger rape case, a difficult acquaintance rape case, and a sexual conduct with a minor case involving a child victim with split personality disorder.  These exceptionally difficult cases required total dedication to the pursuit of justice for special victims.  For his unrelenting efforts to provide justice to victims, I am honored to nominate Dan South for the David R. White Excellence in Victim Advocacy Award.

   

 


 

 

2016 Lifetime Achievement Award
Beth Barnes
TSRP Assistant City Prosecutor
Phoenix City Prosecutor's Office

Beth Barnes has been a prosecutor for the City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office since 1991.  During her nearly 25 years as a prosecutor, she has distinguished herself as a resource in Arizona and throughout the country in traffic safety law.  She has worked as both a trial attorney and an appellate attorney, and has argued before the Arizona Supreme Court, the Arizona Court of Appeals, and the Federal District Court of Arizona.     One of Beth’s greatest contributions to prosecution has been the education of countless prosecutors statewide and throughout the country.  Early in her career, Beth became a mentor and resource for new attorneys in the Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office, helping attorneys grow their trial and appellate skills.  She continued on that path and has become a resource on DUI and other traffic-safety related issues for prosecutors and law enforcement officers nationwide.

     

  2016 Lifetime Achievement Award
Michael Morrison
Deputy County Attorney
Yavapai County Attorney's Office

 Mike Morrison’s career as a prosecutor in Arizona spans nearly 33 years.  During that time, he has worked in the Phoenix City Prosecutor’s Office, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, with the City of Glendale as the police legal advisor, and now, luckily for Yavapai County, as a prosecutor in our Verde Valley district.  During his distinguished career, Mike has handled literally all aspects of the job, from misdemeanors to capital offenses, from line prosecutor to supervisor of large bureaus, from training to attorney mentoring.  Mike truly epitomizes everything we value in a career prosecutor.  He has impeccable ethics, a profound commitment to justice, is an incredibly hard worker, and is an excellent trial attorney and prosecutor.  Arizonans are fortunate that Mike recognized his calling and has dedicated his life to our profession.

     
   

2016 Legal Assistant of the Year
Jeff Colbert
Legal Assistant

Jeff was the legal assistant in the simultaneous capital trials of State v Martinez and State v Licon. The Martinez case involved the ambush murder of Phoenix Police Officer Travis Murphy, shot multiple times with an AR-15 rifle.  Licon murdered his half-brother, and then executed his 6 year old nephew, a likely witness to the earlier killing. The Martinez trial ran from November of 2014 to November of 2015, requiring over seventy witness interviews, subsequent transcriptions, expert witnesses and re-enactment videos.  The Licon trial, itself spanning eight months, required organization of 1500 exhibits, pretrial interviews and preparation of over 100 witnesses, including mental health experts necessary to rebut an insanity defense.  Throughout the trials Jeff was instrumental in organizing exhibits, ensuring witness travel, preparing exhibits, power points, and providing dedication to detail necessary for successful prosecution.

     
   

2016 APAAC Victim Advocate of the Year
Debra Blair

Gila County Attorney’s Office

Debra Blair is a true Victims' Advocate. She ensures that in every case, especially those dealing with significant loss and emotional trauma, that the victims are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect. Debra's calm and empathetic demeanor, coupled with her knowledge of the criminal justice system, provides great comfort to victims who are often re-victimized by a system that all too often relegates them to the shadows. When Debra comes into contact with members of our community, they are often broken. Broken by senseless acts of violence committed on loved ones by heinous criminals. When Debra meets them for the first time, they are often having one of the worst days of their lives. Her mission, which seems impossible at first, is to reassure the victims that our office will do everything possible to ensure that we get "earthly justice" for their loved ones. Debra embodies what a Victim Advocate truly is - a strong, steady proponent for those seeking justice. Debra truly understands the saying that "a victim's first cry is for help; their second is for justice." Debra is, without a doubt, a champion advocate for victims in our community and has earned the highest of recognition.

     
     
     

 

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