Tuesday, January 17, 2012

3 lawyers chosen as finalists for Vegas DA to make presentations to Clark County Commission

The three finalists to become top prosecutor in Las Vegas are due to make presentations on Tuesday to Clark County commissioners who will decide on a three-year replacement for District Attorney David Roger.

The commission is scheduled to take five-minute presentations from county indigent defense office chief Drew Christensen, former Clark County Democratic Party chairman John Hunt, and Las Vegas City Councilman and defense attorney Steve Wolfson.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports (http://bit.ly/xDXm2C ) that all three are experienced prosecutors and defense attorneys, and each has said he would run for election to the office in 2015.

Public input is expected before a final decision is made. Commission chairwoman Susan Brager wants to name a new DA at a special commission meeting next week.

Roger retired Jan. 3 after 25 years as a Clark County prosecutor, including nine years as district attorney. He has become general counsel to the Las Vegas Police Protective Association.

He left an office with a $65 million budget and more than 700 employees, including 150 deputy prosecutors handling about 65,000 cases annually.

The incoming district attorney will face challenges as prosecutor in the embattled coroner's inquest process following police slayings as well as questions about whether too many defendants are facing the death penalty.

The job pays $182,100 a year. Commissioners tell the Review-Journal the district attorney will need to improve communication with county administrators and boost DA office morale.

Wolfson, 57, served as a county prosecutor and in the U.S. attorney's office before opening a private practice in 1987. He is married to Jackie Glass, the former Clark County district judge who sentenced O.J. Simpson to prison and has since replaced Nancy Grace on the syndicated television show "Swift Justice."

"We all want the same thing, for the system to be fair and efficient," he said.

Wolfson's budget management skills were tested as a Las Vegas city councilman, where he helped cut $115 million over the past three fiscal years.

Christensen, 50, was a prosecutor and a public defender before helping create and open the county office of appointed counsel in 2008. The office selects private attorneys to represent indigent defendants. Christensen's wife, Nell Keenan, is a prosecutor in the district attorney's office.

As a young public defender, Christensen represented Robert Hays, who served 14 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Christensen blames the conviction on "systematic error" and concedes that he made mistakes.

John Hunt, 57, has spent nearly three decades in private law practice in criminal, civil and family law. He has an accounting degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and worked for the Nevada Gaming Control Board before law school.

He said that would help him deal with budgetary issues in the district attorney's office.

By The Associated Press

Source: The Republic

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