DCA Luke Coyne's recognition as “Attorney of the Year” by the Arizona Chapter of the IAAI takes on a profound significance that resonates beyond the Maricopa County Attorney's Office (MCAO). The lingering effects of the pandemic continue to ripple into unexpected realms, including a troubling rise in arson-related crimes.
According to Luke, the pandemic has acted as a catalyst, exacerbating underlying mental health and substance use issues that fuel these crimes. Retail theft and domestic violence have emerged as surprising components of this crime trend, redefining the motivations behind such actions.
Originally from Chicago, Luke is currently part of the Trial Division's Glendale, Phoenix, and Cactus Park Bureau, where he specializes in arson cases.
Luke found inspiration in his father's passion for criminal justice, a bond strengthened by countless meaningful conversations. After law school, Luke worked as a firefighter for four years before moving to Arizona. He began his career at MCAO a little over eight years ago.
Soon after starting at MCAO, Luke knew he wanted to join the team working on arson cases. When a position became available in 2018, Luke completed the mandatory IAAI training. When talking about MCAO, Luke shares that "it's been great to work in an office that supports my interests and has helped me grow my skills in this field."
Arson cases are unique because they require specific skills to determine the cause of the fire, and to prosecute the cases successfully.
A standout accomplishment of Luke's career involved successfully prosecuting a serial arsonist responsible for multiple out-of-state arson incidents. Through strategic utilization of the IAAI network, Luke collaborated with arson investigators in other states, revealing the defendant’s consistent pattern of behavior.
For Luke, using his background in firefighting and his skills as a prosecutor to achieve justice for crime victims makes all the difficulties worthwhile. Victims of these cases suffer from the traumatic experience of a fire and the aftermath. Luke said, "It's heartbreaking to see people go through the crime and come out of it with nothing left of their home. Everything they've ever owned and cared for, including family heirlooms, photos, and sometimes even pets, are lost."
In addition to his work in the courtroom, Luke is dedicated to improving the field that is his passion. He provides training to prosecutors and detectives across Arizona, something he finds very rewarding. "Having a network of resources and being able to teach others about what to look for and best practices helps us achieve better outcomes."
Being recognized as “Attorney of the Year” by an organization vital to investigating and prosecuting these cases is a true honor for Luke. Congrats!