Richard Romley, the former marine who has served as prosecuting attorney of Maricopa County, Az., for the past 16 years, is retiring at the end of the month after taking down hundreds of killers and drug dealers, seven state legislators, and one Roman Catholic bishop, says the New York Times. Romley, 55, a Republican, is weighing a run for governor or a seat in Congress in 2006. He would consider a job in the Bush administration, perhaps as drug czar or secretary of veterans affairs.
Both his critics and admirers call him self-righteous, inflexible, and a tough and unforgiving boss. Romley, whose legs were blown off by a land mine in Vietnam in 1969, said, “I’m very outspoken. I say what I believe in. People know where I stand.” The accusation of rigidity arises from his strict adherence to firm guidelines for sentencing violent criminals. He believes that anyone who commits a felony with a gun should go to prison. He thinks that drunken drivers who kill should do hard time. When someone is sentenced to 10 years, Romley said, the person should do 10 years. “There must be a consistency in the application of the law,” Romley said. Anything less, he said, gives rise to accusations of racism or favoritism and undermines faith in the criminal justice system. Maricopa County, with 3.1 million residents, is the fourth most populous county in the country. Its prosecutor employs 350 lawyers and 650 other workers, and handles nearly 50,000 cases a year.