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Commission appoints interim district attorney

Clark County commissioners Tuesday appointed County Counsel Mary-Anne Miller interim district attorney.

Miller, 55, will take over the reins for about two weeks, according to county management, which expects a permanent replacement to be named Jan. 17 and to start right away. Miller becomes the first woman to hold the position. She will keep her current position while she fills in.

"I don’t expect things to crop up," Miller said. "But if they do, I’ll be prepared to act. … A couple of people asked me if I would do it, and I’m glad to serve."

Miller, an Oregon native, graduated with her juris doctorate from Willamette University College of Law in Salem and moved to Las Vegas in 1984. She was admitted to the Nevada State Bar in 1985 and joined the district attorney’s civil division that same year. She became county counsel in 1997.

The County Commission’s approval was swift and without much discussion.

"We really do appreciate you," Commissioner Susan Brager said.

David Roger’s retirement became effective Tuesday. The permanent district attorney will serve Roger’s unexpired term, which ends Jan. 5, 2015.

By the end of this week, a seven-member screening committee, assembled by County Manager Don Burnette at the direction of the County Commission, is expected to finish narrowing down the candidates 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.

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, a former judge 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. In 2010, the office filed more than 22,420 felony cases and 32,678 misdemeanor changes against defendants for crimes from petty 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.

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

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