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APAAC Award Winners





2013 Felony Prosecutor of the Year
(small jurisdiction) Award Recipient
Scott Blake
Deputy Yavapai County Attorney

This past year, Scott Blake demonstrated his ingenuity and resourcefulness in an unprecedented way that has made Yavapai County a safer place. When confronted with the ever-changing molecular structures of “spice” and “bath salts,” thus allowing manufacturers to skate around Arizona’s laws prohibiting dangerous synthetic drugs, Scott devised a unique approach using the public nuisance abatement statute. Thanks to Scott’s creative and enterprising way of thinking, the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office was able to obtain Temporary Restraining Orders, Preliminary Injunctions, and in December 2012, Permanent Injunctions against the sellers of  “Spice” and “Bath Salts” in Yavapai County. With the assistance of our paralegal, Scott worked hard to interview and obtain affidavits from over one hundred community members elucidating for the court the incredible harm caused by the synthetic drugs. Scott’s “outside the box” tactic was absolutely crucial in containing the incipient epidemic in Yavapai County of “spice” and “bath salts.”





2013 Felony Prosecutor of the Year
(large jurisdiction) Award Recipient
Nicol Green
Deputy Pima County Attorney

Nicol Green has been a prosecutor at the Pima County Attorney’s Office for approximately 12 years.  She has worked in many different units in the office, but has developed an expertise in domestic violence and homicide prosecutions.  She is currently assigned to the Cold Case Unit, where she works closely with law enforcement to solve old homicide cases.  Nicol tried five felony trials last year, including a capital case that lasted six weeks.  The trial resulted in guilty verdicts and two death sentences. In addition to her trial work, Nicol dedicates a significant portion of her time to helping less experienced attorneys in the office with their cases. Her input and expertise is valued by her peers.




  2013 Misdemeanor Prosecutor of the Year Award Recipient
Heather Zapata
Assistant Tucson City Prosecutor

The City of Tucson is pleased to nominate Heather Zapata for Misdemeanor Prosecutor of the Year.  In six years, Heather has developed into a natural innovative leader and go-to person.  She discusses cases and trial strategies with everyone, willingly sharing scripts and case law.  She enjoys training new lawyers and law students.  She interviews, selects, and supervises summer interns.  She organized a project with interns to develop a DUI notebook which became our DUI training manual.
Heather trained two new attorneys on trials.  She taught file organization and preparation, plea offers and case evaluation, and pretrial work including interviewing victims and talking to unrepresented defendants.

Heather has conducted numerous trials and evidentiary hearings.  She participated in creating the new DUI plea offer guidelines and drafted the new plea deadline policy.  She willingly volunteers to work on committees and is a team player.  She planned the Administrative Professional Day breakfast.




  2013 Juvenile Prosecutor of the Year
Award Recipient
Tanaaz Wheeler
Deputy Yavapai County Attorney

Tanaaz Wheeler ably handles a heavy caseload consisting of approximately half of all of the juvenile delinquency cases filed in Yavapai County.  In addition, Tanaaz reviews and makes charging decisions on approximately half of the juvenile referrals submitted by law enforcement agencies for review, handles juvenile appeals in the Arizona Court of Appeals, and prosecutes misdemeanors in the Seligman Justice Court.  A prosecutor who goes the extra mile and tenaciously advocates for the victims of crimes committed by juveniles, she also takes a personal interest in the success of the kids she has prosecuted, following their accomplishments long after a prosecution has concluded.  Tanaaz is respected by the judges, juvenile probation officers and law enforcement officers with whom she works on a daily basis who describe her as conscientious, responsible, pleasant, and firm but fair in her handling of cases.




2013 Appeals Prosecutor of the Year
Award Recipient
Jacob Lines
Deputy Pima County Attorney

Jacob Lines has been a prosecutor with the Pima County Attorney’s Office for five years.  He has been the supervisor of the Appellate Unit at the Pima County Attorney’s Office the entire time he has been with the office. 

As the supervisor of the Appellate Unit, Jacob helps trial prosecutors research emergency legal issues in their cases, helps respond to defense special actions, initiates State’s special actions in the face of adverse rulings, and initiates State’s appeals in appropriate cases after the Court has suppressed evidence in a pending case.  Jacob is often relied on by his fellow Deputy County Attorneys to assist in important legal arguments in their cases, and is looked to as an expert in several areas of criminal prosecution.  Not only do those he works with rely on his expertise, but others in the community recognize his expertise as well. Jacob has lectured on statewide trainings on appellate practice, and consistently receives praise for his lectures and presentations.




  2013 Rising Star Prosecutor of the Year
Award Recipient
Rachel Heintz
Deputy Yavapai County Attorney

In February of 2012, Rachel Heintz joined the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office as an entry level prosecutor and has quickly demonstrated her outstanding advocacy skills, her excellent legal research and writing abilities, and her enthusiasm for prosecution.  Assigned to prosecute misdemeanor criminal offenses in three justice courts, Rachel rose to the assignment with zeal and initiative.  Within less than a year, Rachel was moved to a felony position where she continues to excel, handling not only her caseload but seeking opportunities to second chair serious felonies, initiating a county financial crimes task force, and instructing her peers on the finer points of the 4th Amendment and GPS tracking in a post-Jones world.  Rachel does all of this with gusto and a strong sense of teamwork.  It is very clear that Rachel has a bright future in criminal prosecution and is a dazzling Arizona Prosecutor Rising Star.




  2013 David R. White Award Recipient
Rachel Mitchell
Deputy Maricopa County Attorney

Rachel Mitchell has been a prosecutor for 20 years.  For the past 17 years, since April 1996, she has prosecuted sex crimes and child abuse cases and currently serves as the Bureau Chief of the Sex Crimes Bureau. 

Rachel has been active in the drafting, reviewing, and lobbying of legislation to protect children who are victims of sexual and physical abuse. She is known throughout the state by law enforcement, medical professionals, advocacy center personnel and other prosecutors, as well as private organizations such as churches, as a leader in the child abuse and sexual assault communities.

Rachel’s efforts encompass the true spirit of victim advocacy in that she not only responds to crimes that have been committed, but, through her prosecution, teaching and legislative work has prevented children and others from being victimized.  I can think of no one more deserving of the David R. White Excellence in Victim Advocacy Award.



   2013 Lifetime Achievement in Prosecution
Award Recipient
Beth Anderson
Deputy Pima County Attorney

Beth Anderson is a prosecutor with the Pima County Attorney’s Office.  She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA from Arizona State University.  She joined the Pima County Attorney’s Office after graduating second in her class from the ASU College of Law in 1992. 

Ms. Anderson is currently assigned to the Narcotics Unit, where she prosecutes drug traffickers, most of whom are career criminals.  She has also served in the Property Crimes and Vehicular Units.  During her career as a prosecutor, she has prosecuted over 300 felony jury trials.

Ms. Anderson is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable prosecutors in the office. She serves as a major source of inspiration to all those who work with and know her. She has worked tirelessly throughout her career to honorably serve her community and the citizens of Pima County.



    2013 Lifetime Achievement in Prosecution
Award Recipient
W. Craig Jones
Chief Assistant Mesa City Prosecutor

Craig Jones joined the Mesa City Prosecutor’s Office in 1986.  He has held every position in the office from Student Intern to Interim City Prosecutor and is currently Chief Assistant City Prosecutor.  He has accomplished this with professionalism and integrity.

In 26 years Craig tried thousands of cases, supervised tens of thousands of other cases, and filed and supervised hundreds of appeals and special actions. He has mentored more than 150 law students and trained over 30 attorneys. In 2005, one of his appeals was published by the Arizona Court of Appeals.  The case, still relevant today, allows prosecutors around Arizona to transfer conflicts openly, ethically, and efficiently.
In 1994 APAAC recognized Craig as the first Misdemeanor Prosecutor of the Year. The nomination for this award stated that Craig represented the “backbone and heart that keeps our prosecutorial efforts going day in and day out.”  This statement continues to be true.



     2013 Lifetime Achievement in Prosecution
Award Recipient
Anthony novitsky
Deputy Maricopa County Attorney

Tony is entering his 31st year of prosecution, handling cases on the line to supervising and training attorneys at the municipal and county levels.  Over the course of his career, he has conducted from 175 to 200 jury trials and prosecuted cases ranging from parking tickets and barking dogs at the City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office to vehicular homicides and other violent crimes at MCAO. In addition, over time he has trained multiple generations of prosecutors helping instruct at APAAC conferences, served on Supreme Court Committees (eg. Serving on The Rule 15 Rewrite Committee from 2000 to 2002, actually drafting the committee comment to Rule 15.1 as it currently appears), instructing at police and fire academies, appearing as a prosecutor guest on radio talk shows, and assisting with the creation of an anti -drinking and driving film called Crossing Deadly Lanes (shown to students in middle schools for many years).



     2013 Lifetime Achievement in Prosecution
Award Recipient
Joel Ruechel
Chief Deputy Navajo County Attorney

Joel Ruechel is one of those dedicated few who have devoted their life to protecting our communities and preserving our quality of life. Joel has become an institution in the halls of the Navajo County Court House. He is respected by the bench, revered by his co-workers and feared by the defense bar. Joel has attained this lofty status because he conducts his professional and personal life the right way - with dedication, commitment and devotion.
A number of the young prosecutors in the office have nicknamed Joel “the Great Oracle” because he seems to know everything. Whenever any prosecutor has an issue they are wrestling with or a trial coming up they make their way to Joel’s office. No matter how busy Joel is, he never hesitates to drop what he is doing to spend as much time as needed to work through the issues, whether they be procedural, evidentiary or ethical.





2012 Legal Assistant of the Year
Margaret Robertson
Yavapai County Attorney’s Office

Maggie Robertson has served with the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office for over 25 years.  She is the sole Paralegal in our Civil Division, manages our criminal zoning cases, and provides trial and appellate assistance for the juvenile attorneys.  In the last year, Maggie performed numerous paralegal activities regarding the public nuisance claim brought by the Yavapai County Attorney against the sellers of “Spice” and “Bath Salts” in our county.  Maggie identified, contacted, and arranged interviews with over 100 individuals willing to sign affidavits describing the serious effects of these drugs.  In less than two months, Maggie produced 109 affidavits that were filed as exhibits to the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order.  In addition, Maggie organized the evidence and assisted with drafting the Complaint and Summons and associated documents, the Motions for Temporary Restraining Order, and Preliminary and Permanent Injunctions.  As a result of Maggie’s outstanding and exceptional performance, the Yavapai County Superior Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction, and Permanent Injunction forbidding the sale of these drugs by all known retailers in Yavapai County.  Maggie’s outstanding efforts directly led to the successful outcome.  





Support Staff Person of the Year
Heidi Tadlock
Pima County Attorney's Office

Heidi Tadlock provides legal processing support for the Grand Jury Unit in the Criminal Division of the Pima County Attorney’s Office.  She has been with the PCAO for 18 years and has been instrumental in carrying out the mission of the Office and ensuring that Arizona’s laws are upheld.  Heidi is one of the finest employees in the Pima County Attorney’s Office. Her extensive knowledge and years of experience working in the Grand Jury Unit help ensure that justice is done.  

For exceptional dedication to carrying out the mission of the Pima County Attorney’s Office and for her commitment to providing exemplary service to the residents of Pima County, I am very pleased to nominate Heidi Tadlock for APAAC’s 2012 Arizona Staff Assistant of the Year Award.