From judge to County Attorney: Griffith tapped to fill vacant term in Greenlee County

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Gary Griffith, shown here at his judicial retirement party in December 2022, was appointed Wednesday by the Greenlee County Board of Supervisors to fulfill the remainder of former Greenlee County Attorney Scott Adams’ term. The position will be up for election in 2024.

By Jon Johnson

I’m excited to have the opportunity to serve the people of Greenlee County.

Greenlee County Attorney Gary Griffith

CLIFTON – There’s a new chief prosecutor in town but he’s not new to the court. On Wednesday, Gary Griffith was appointed by the Greenlee County Board of Supervisors to fulfill the vacant term left by outgoing Greenlee County Attorney Scott Adams, who resigned to take a position closer to the Phoenix area.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to approve the appointment of Griffith after glowing recommendations from Adams and Greenlee County Administrator Derek Rapier.

“I’ve known and worked with Mr. Griffith for decades and he is an outstanding attorney,” Rapier told the board. “I think he will provide leadership that the office needs. There are challenges ahead, but he’s up for them.”

After the vote, BOS Chairman Richard Lunt welcomed Griffith to his new post.

Griffith, who had been serving as Greenlee County Chief Deputy County Attorney, will officially begin as Greenlee County Attorney on Aug. 1.    

Griffith previously served as Justice of the Peace District 1 in Safford for 20 years before retiring at the end of December 2022. He then took a job offer from Adams and became his Chief Deputy County Attorney. Now, less than a year later, Griffith is serving as his successor and says he is looking to keep the position for the long term. 

“It’s an unexpected challenge but I’m grateful and excited to do it,” Griffith told the Gila Herald. “I’m still pretty young, so right now I’ve got the long-term in mind.”

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to serve the people of Greenlee County.”  

Adams himself was initially appointed Greenlee County Attorney after former County Attorney Jeremy Ford resigned to run for Greenlee County Superior Court Judge – a position he now holds. Adams then won the election for the remainder of Ford’s original term. That term will end next year in 2024, and the position will be up for election again – a spot Griffith hopes to secure.

Elected officials must reside in the county they are elected to serve, and after previously commuting for his Chief Deputy County Attorney position, Griffith has since moved his family to Duncan.  

“The people here are very, very nice,” Griffith said. “It’s been good to get to know them. (They’ve) been very welcoming.” 

Griffith wasted no time finding his own replacement and has recruited Graham County Deputy County Attorney Stephen Lundell to join him in the courthouse in Clifton as Greenlee County Chief Deputy County Attorney.