This June, DCA Michael “Mike” Baker was recognized at the Arizona Prosecuting Attorney's Advisory Council’s Annual Prosecutor Conference where he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a prosecutor with a distinguished career in public service, who made significant contributions to public safety, the administration of justice and represents the highest standards of dedication and commitment to the profession.
Any day of the work week you can find Mike in court presenting cases to the Grand Jury as he has done for the past 13 years, including during the pandemic last year. At MCAO, there are few prosecutors that have had a career as extensive and varied as Mike. After getting his bachelor’s degree at Berea College in Kentucky, Mike continued his education at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he completed a couple of master programs in education. Mike knew he wanted to pursue a law degree and moved to Arizona to do so, attending the University of Arizona James E. Rogers School of Law. Once an attorney, Mike stayed in Tucson for a year before heading to Ohio where he worked for a civil law firm. At this point his interest in prosecution grew and he came back to Arizona in December of 1984 to join the Mohave Attorney’s Office. After a little over a year with that office, Mike was recruited to work at MCAO for the newly formed Sex Crimes Bureau. In January of 1988 he worked briefly as an Assistant Attorney General while also being appointed as Special Deputy County Attorney to handle various criminal matters, returning to MCAO in June 1989.
Over the decades that followed, Mike proved to be a devoted employee and served the office in many capacities including trial attorney, charging attorney, and grand jury attorney. He even took on leadership positions, serving as the Juvenile Division Bureau Chief from June 1991 to December 1996 and serving as the Trial Division Assistant Bureau Chief from May 2006 to January 2008, where he handled a caseload of violent crimes and complex investigations.
While Mike enjoyed prosecutorial work, it was the opportunity to work in the training division at MCAO that interested him the most. “Even more than working any particular case, working with young prosecutors, that was the biggest thing for me.” As a trial division mentor, he spent his time teaching classes and going to trial with new prosecutors. During the 5 years that he held that position, he mentored and taught nearly every new prosecutor that came into the office.
After a successful trial career, that in certain cases had an impact on the law, Mike was assigned to the Charging/Grand Jury Bureau where he continues to work today. It is estimated that he’s reviewed more than 15,000 submittals and presented over 10,000 matters before court. When not in court, Mike is doing what he enjoys most, sharing his expertise and helping those with less experienced. Around the office Mike is known for is encyclopedic knowledge of the law and serves as a resource for other attorneys, providing guidance and insight.
For those unsure as to whether a career as a prosecutor is for them, Mike shares that, “if you want to do good work and feel good about what you’re doing then prosecution is the route to take.” He also encourages the public to learn more about the criminal justice system and “get educated on what our office and local law enforcement does, programs like the Citizens Academy are something worthwhile to get educated on.”
Mike’s dedication to community extends beyond the courtroom to various organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, St. Mary’s Food Bank, the Special Olympics, Pat’s Run, among others. For those interested in volunteer opportunities, Mike encourages you to, “do more with HandsOn Phoenix and go to their website.”
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is proud to have Mike as part of our workforce and grateful for his commitment to justice.
APAAC was created by the Arizona Legislature in 1977, with the primary purpose of providing training and education to prosecutors throughout Arizona. Currently the council serves 885 full-time state, county, and municipal prosecutors.