As uncomfortable as it was, slapping handcuffs on Nye County District Attorney Bob Beckett may have been the easy part.
Now authorities in the rural county west of Las Vegas must navigate a maze of little-used procedures and looming conflicts to bring their first-of-its-kind criminal case to trial.
"This appears to be unprecedented in Nevada history," former State Archivist Guy Rocha said of the May 5 arrest of the sitting district attorney.
"I talked to people who are pretty damned knowledgeable, north and south, and no one's ever heard of this."
Deputies arrested Beckett at the Nye County Sheriff's Office in Pahrump after interviewing him about irregularities in a bank account his office managed for more than 13 years.
He was booked on more than 40 counts including embezzlement, but he has yet to be formally charged. That job is usually handled by the district attorney's office.
Obviously, Beckett can't prosecute himself, so someone else will need to review the investigation and determine how -- or perhaps whether -- to proceed.
Sheriff Tony DeMeo and his administrative team has spent the past week researching what to do next.
On Thursday, the sheriff outlined the process as he understands it. First, his office will ask the Nye County Commission to hire an outside attorney. Then that attorney will petition the District Court to appoint a special prosecutor.
"We want this to be a clean process," DeMeo said.
Patty Cafferata knows something about rural Nevada justice. The former state treasurer, assemblywoman and head of the state Ethics Commission also served separate stints as district attorney in Lander, Lincoln and Esmeralda counties. She predicts that Beckett's case will require the appointment of both a special prosecutor and a judge from outside of Nye County.
"It's just the nature of the beast," Cafferata said. "They're small communities. They're small legal communities. I think they would have some conflicts there."
Nevada's Fifth Judicial District uses two judges to hear all of the cases in Nye, Esmeralda and Mineral counties.
One of the judges is Robert Lane, who once was a deputy prosecutor under Beckett.
The other judge is John Davis, who has held the job for the past two decades and easily won a fourth six-year term in 2008 after trouncing Beckett in the primary.
Davis insists he could preside over Beckett's case without prejudice, but it makes more sense for him to step aside than to try to argue that point.
"It's not worth it," the judge said. "The only conflict I have is he wanted my job and I didn't want him to have it, but I think that's a sufficient conflict."
Davis added, however, that his past with Beckett should not preclude him from hearing preliminary motions in the case, including the appointment of an outside attorney to review the investigation.
Asked what he would look for in a special prosecutor, Davis chuckled and said, "Someone who has prosecuted before."
The real goal, he said, is to find someone who can take a "completely unbiased" look at the investigation and determine the best course of action.
"Maybe the right thing is to dump the whole case. I don't know," he said. "You've got to look at it objectively."
Davis has been called on to pick a special prosecutor only once before.
About a decade ago, the judge had to find a new prosecutor and defense attorney for the third trial in a murder case that saw two previous convictions overturned on appeal.
Davis said an "intolerable animosity" developed between the prosecution and defense during the first two trials, so the case had to be assigned to new attorneys.
Cafferata said when conflicts arise in local cases, it is not unusual for the Nevada attorney general's office to step in, but spokeswoman Edie Cartwright said the agency has not been asked to intervene in Beckett's case.
"We have no plans to be involved at this time. It's a county matter," Cartwright said.
If state prosecutors do wind up taking the case, they may have to address a potential conflict of their own.
One of the leading challengers for Beckett's seat is Brian Kunzi, an 11-year resident of Pahrump who heads up the insurance fraud unit for the attorney general's office.
Further complicating the matter is Beckett himself, who called a news conference in Pahrump the day after his arrest and announced the appointment of his own special prosecutor, attorney Leslie Stovall.
Beckett said it will be Stovall's job to investigate charges of political corruption and abuse of power by public officials in Nye County.
It appears that investigation will focus on DeMeo and his deputies.
Stovall was not available for comment, but a spokesman for his office said the attorney has already begun collecting documents and swearing in deputies to conduct the probe.
DeMeo said Beckett has no authority to appoint a special prosecutor, and the sheriff's office is under no obligation to cooperate with Stovall and his associates. DeMeo said Beckett's special prosecutor will have "no more standing" with the sheriff's office than would any private investigator or attorney.
"He's a personal friend and a supporter of Mr. Beckett in his campaign," DeMeo said of Stovall. "It's like the fox appointing the dog to watch the chicken coop. It's an inherent conflict."
Davis called it something else: "I think it's a travesty of justice, and I don't think it's going to fly."
The allegations against Beckett stem from a bank account set up to collect restitution payments from people charged with writing bad checks.
In April, deputies used a search warrant to seize a computer, checkbook and other records related to the account after Beckett reportedly skipped several meetings with county Treasurer Gary Budahl and Dan McArthur, the county's independent auditor.
According to investigators, several hundred dollars worth of checks from the account were written to cash with no documentation to indicate where the money went.
Approximately $6,000 from the fund went to the pep squad at Pahrump Valley High School for new uniforms and cheer competitions, authorities said.
Beckett's daughters were cheerleaders at the school, and his wife coached the team.
Beckett could not be reached for comment for this story, but in a phone interview the night of his arrest he denied the charges and blamed the investigation on his political enemies.
Both the district attorney and the sheriff are locked in re-election races. Beckett has drawn six challengers in his bid for a fifth four-year term.
DeMeo said a few county residents have told him he should have held off on the investigation until after the election.
His response to that: "Why should we wait? Why should justice wait? I don't care who the individual is. If they commit a crime in Nye County ... we put them in handcuffs."
DeMeo said he sees no conflict in his office investigating the county's chief prosecutor and top legal adviser, but he knew he would face criticism either way. If he turned the case over to the Nevada Division of Investigation or another outside agency, the knock would be that his department wasn't up to the job, DeMeo said.
This isn't the first time Beckett has had to campaign his way through distractions. During his 2008 run for judge, he had to answer questions about a bizarre Father's Day incident in which he crashed two vehicles in a six-hour span on the same stretch of California highway.
He was booked for drunken driving after the second crash, but the charge was dropped when he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless driving and agreed to complete a class on the dangers of alcohol and automobiles.
Now he's back in the news, his name at the center of yet another story that has observers smiling and shaking their heads at the strange stuff that always seems to happen in Nye County.
But to Davis, this is no laughing matter.
"It's a sad day in Nye County history. It's a sad day for the legal profession," the judge said. "It's just a sad day."
Contact reporter Henry Brean at email@example.com or 702-383-0350.