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GOP’s Kavanaugh questioner Rachel Mitchell comes from a troubled office with a terrible record of rape convictions

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Wary of having 11 middle-aged or elderly white men interrogate the woman who says she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Republicans have instead tapped an Arizona prosecutor to handle the questioning of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Rachel Mitchell works for the Special Victims Division in the Maricopa County attorney’s office in Arizona. Mitchell has a lot of experience, having spent 12 years running the sex-crimes bureau in Phoenix. She’s been with the office for 26 years, the last eight under Bill Montgomery.

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Before that, Mitchell worked under ultra-conservative Andy Thomas, who focused heavily on immigration busts and feuded bitterly with the more moderate county officials who fund his office, at one point indicting county officials over their squabbles. Mitchell’s former boss was later disbarred following an abuse of power case.

The agency that Mitchell comes from has come under fierce criticism for its handling of rape cases, and has a poor track record of getting justice for victims in rape, child molestation or domestic violence cases.

Although it’s hard to get county-level statistics, Maricopa County includes Phoenix and it’s sprawling suburbs, and contains most of the state’s population. Maricopa County has more than 4 million residents. The rest of Arizona has less than 3 million residents combined.

In 2016, there were 3,290 rapes reported across Arizona. Police only made 344 arrests as a result.

That clearance rate of Arizona rape cases stands at approximately 10%, well below the national average of 34.5%.

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Maricopa County is notorious for disgraced former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of federal crimes and pardoned by Donald Trump. But the prosecutor’s office that Arpaio worked with has also had a number of high-profile fails—especially when it comes to sex crimes. Arpaio has been slammed for ignoring rape and child molestation cases so he could pursue a jihad against Latinos. Maricopa County had to pay out massive settlements as a result of Arpaio’s mishandling of rape cases.

That includes an alleged 2014 gang rape that prosecutors declined to take before a jury and several high-profile cases at Arizona State University in Tempe in Maricopa County, which the school has responded to by arguing that expulsion is “too severe” a punishment for rapists.

While it’s not uncommon to see a backlog of untested rape kits, Mitchell’s Maricopa County office recently made news by busting a man after 17 years. The rapist had gone unprosecuted in that time, until federal authorities gave a large grant to have the old kits tested. Before the feds stepped in, Maricopa County had a backlog of 4,000 untested rape kits.

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Those numbers kept more victims from reporting, advocates in Arizona have said, as they feared retribution from their attackers and had no faith that law enforcement or prosecutors would pursue their attackers.

“I think that comes from a history of the criminal justice process placing the character of the victim in question,” advocate Jessye Johnson told the Arizona Republic. “We’ve seen some shift in that in terms of rape shield laws.

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2020 Election

How Lindsey Graham keeps lowering his standards for Trump

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As the coronavirus pandemic spread and death tolls increased across the United States over the last three months, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., repeatedly raised the number of deaths he would find acceptable in defense of President Donald Trump's botched response.
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White woman pulls gun on Black woman after allegedly almost hitting her with her car

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On Wednesday, a viral video showed a white woman in Auburn Hills, Michigan, pulling a handgun on a Black woman in an altercation in a parking lot.

According to the woman taking the video, the white woman nearly hit the Black woman while backing up her van, and the argument escalated quickly.

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"Don't you f**king jump behind my car," replied the woman with the gun. "Get the f**k back! Get the f**k back! Back the f**k up!"

According to the poster, the woman who brandished the gun has been arrested.

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July 4 re-opening still on after employee at private sports club owned by billionaire governor tests positive for coronavirus

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After at least three complaints alleging lax reopening practices at West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s luxury resort hotel, a kitchen employee has tested positive for the coronavirus at a residential and sports club affiliated with The Greenbrier.

Local Health Department officials directed a 14-day quarantine for potentially exposed employees at The Lodge, a restaurant at the Greenbrier Sporting Club, and the venue will remain closed until July 10. Festivities planned at the club for July 4 will go on, but with food from other facilities.

"While the events of the past few days certainly have thrown us a curve ball, we have reached out to our friends and colleagues in the area to pull together a festival that will have something for everyone," the director of operations at the sporting club, Allen Wills, told its 400 members in a Tuesday night email, obtained by ProPublica.

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