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Aug 302013
 

Twenty-nine years of revered service prompted the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council (APAAC) to present Deputy Navajo County Attorney Joel Ruechel with a Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual ceremony this month.
Ruechel joined Navajo County as a prosecutor in 1984. He quickly rose through the ranks to become the top trial attorney in the office and within three years was trying homicide cases. Navajo County Attorney Brad Carlyon said Ruechel is assigned the toughest cases in the county.
“The criminal defense bar respects and fears Joel’s trial skills. The fear even extends to the criminals,” said Carlyon, who relates an incident when during arraignment, a defense attorney inquired who would be handling the case against his client. “The client overheard that Joel was assigned and let out a defeated sigh, slumped down in his chair and put his face in his hands.”
Ruechel’s prosecutorial skill causes defense attorneys to frequently accept plea agreements, even in serious murder cases, rather than face Ruechel in trial, which reduces trial costs within the county.
The APAAC awards the Lifetime Achievement Award to prosecutors who contribute to the protection of public safety and the administration of justice, demonstrating the highest standards of dedication and commitment.
In his nomination of Ruechel for the Lifetime Achievement Award, Carlyon noted that Ruechel’s success as a trial prosecutor rests on his preparation, which extends beyond himself. Ruechel also is noted for helping improve the quality of cases submitted by law enforcement, providing training to local law enforcement agencies and volunteering as a teacher at the Northeastern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy.
“He works hand-in-hand starting at the crime scenes of major cases and helping law enforcement understand what is needed from a prosecutor’s perspective,” said Carlyon.
Of receiving the award, Ruechel said, “I’m humbled. If I get (this award), then there are several attorneys here who also should get one. I’m blessed to work with the people in my office. God has been very good to me.”
Ruechel has spent his entire law career in Navajo County, joining the county attorney’s office after earning his law degree from Arizona State University College of Law. He lives in Holbrook and is married to Navajo County Superior Court Judge Michala Ruechel, with whom he shares three children. Ruechel is a deacon and Sunday school teacher in his church, and coaches youth soccer.
“Joel is an exceptional role model…leading others to become part of those dedicated few that devote their lives and careers to protecting our friends and neighbors, to preserve the quality of life in our communities,” concluded Carlyon.

Photo courtesy of the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council  Navajo County Attorney Brad Carlyon (left) and Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council Executive Director Elizabeth Ortiz (right) congratulate Deputy Navajo County Attorney Joel Ruechel (center) on his receipt of the APAAC Lifetime Achievement Award.

Photo courtesy of the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council
Navajo County Attorney Brad Carlyon (left) and Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council Executive Director Elizabeth Ortiz (right) congratulate Deputy Navajo County Attorney Joel Ruechel (center) on his receipt of the APAAC Lifetime Achievement Award.

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