TEMPE - Lance Payette, a civil deputy Navajo County Attorney, was named by the Arizona Narcotics Officers' Association (ANOA) as the drug attorney of the year.
This marks the first time in its 22 year history that ANOA has recognized an attorney other than a criminal prosecutor.
"Lance has served as legal advisor to the Navajo County Sheriff's Office and the Navajo County Major Crimes Apprehension Team for over thirteen years" said Navajo County Attorney Brad Carlyon. "Lance is always available night and day to answer legal questions from officers in the field."
What set Payette apart from the other nominees was his work on Navajo County's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Petition that was submitted to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "The Petition prepared by Lance Payette has become the template being used by other Arizona counties seeking HIDTA status" said Navajo County Sheriff K.C. Clark. "In the meetings I've attending pushing Navajo County for HIDTA status, everyone comments on the quality of the petition Lance wrote."
During the award presentation ANOA President Phil Hawk commented that successful cases are a team effort that encompasses not only the officers on the ground and the prosecutors in the courtroom, but also the legal advisor who makes sure the officers are doing things right and ensuring that evidence won't be dismissed. "The men and women behind the scenes are an integral part of our operations. In our war against the drug cartels, one of the people I want at my side giving legal advice is Lance Payette."
"It's wonderful that Lance was recognized for his outstanding work," Carlyon said. "It's important for the public to realize the quality of the attorneys we have in Navajo County and the level of dedication they bring to their work. I'm proud to have Lance on my team."
Payette graduate with high honors from the Arizona State University College of Law in 1982 and joined the Navajo County Attorney's Office in 1997.