Interim chief to replace district attorney


A new face will represent the district attorney's office once the County Commission appoints an interim chief next week to replace District Attorney David Roger, who is retiring Tuesday.

That person will be in office only two weeks, according to county management, which expects a permanent replacement to be named Jan. 17 and to start right away.

A source close to the appointment process said County Counsel Mary-Anne Miller's name was being floated for the temporary position to bridge the gap between Roger's retirement and the commission's approval of a permanent district attorney.

It was unclear whether Miller, who is a deputy district attorney assigned to represent and advise county government, would accept the appointment, but she would be able to keep her current position because of the short time frame. Calls to Miller's office and cellphone went unreturned Tuesday.

Under the law, the commission must appoint an interim or a replacement at its first meeting after Roger's official resignation, which is Tuesday . If the appointment is made on an interim basis, the commission has 60 days to appoint a permanent district attorney.

By the end of next week, a seven-member screening committee, assembled by County Manager Don Burnette at the direction of the County Commission, is expected to finish reviewing candidate applications and conducting interviews before recommending a set of finalists to commissioners.

The finalists will meet individually with commissioners. But commissioners, under the law, must make their selection at a public meeting.

County spokesman Erik Pappa said Burnette is recommending the interim district attorney be someone already in the district attorney's office who is not a candidate. He said Burnette is not recommending a specific person.

Seven candidates are vying for the permanent seat.

They are Teresa Lowry, an assistant district attorney in charge of the family support division; Don Chairez, who lost the 2010 election to Roger; Steve Wolfson, a Las Vegas city councilman and a defense lawyer; Drew Christensen, the county's director of appointed counsel; Robert Langford, a defense attorney and former deputy district attorney; John Hunt, former Clark County Democratic Party chairman; and Patrick Ferguson, a senior deputy attorney general.

There are 75 deputy district attorneys appearing regularly in 30 judicial forums. Last year, the office filed more than 22,420 felony cases and 32,678 misdemeanor charges against defendants for crimes ranging from petit larceny to murder.

When it comes to selecting the next district attorney, commissioners said they will consider how that person views the coroner's inquest process, the death penalty, child welfare back payments, budget management and running the office.

Commissioner Mary Beth Scow said she wants an interim district attorney who can maintain the continuity of the office as it undergoes a leadership change.

"I want someone who can carry things on," Scow said. "We don't want somebody coming in and making wholesale changes within the 60-day period. There's a trust level that they can manage the office and administer things as they're going."

As for appointing a permanent replacement, it's a decision that weighs heavily on the commission's newest member.

"I feel a lot of responsibility for this decision," Scow said. "We have to appoint a district attorney that makes good decisions that have a lot to do with the safety we enjoy in our community."

Scow said she doesn't have anyone in particular she would like to see as the county's interim district attorney.

The county's next top prosecutor would serve the remaining unexpired term, which ends Jan. 5, 2015.

Contact reporter Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

 

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