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First woman to lead Clark County public defender’s office

A longtime Las Vegas public sector attorney will be the first woman to head the Clark County Public Defender’s Office since the position was formed 58 years ago.

Nancy Lemcke, currently a lawyer for the Children’s Attorneys Project at the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, was officially selected to lead the office by the Clark County Commission at its meeting Tuesday and starts her job on Monday, according to county spokesman Erik Pappa.

Lemcke, 55, was appointed earlier by County Manager Kevin Schiller to run the public defender’s office, which offers free legal services to criminal defendants who cannot afford a lawyer, Pappa stated in a news release.

She served previously for 23 years as a public defender, has tried many felony cases, including capital and non-capital homicide cases, represented minor defendants in juvenile court, practiced at all levels in Nevada state courts and argued multiple cases before the state Supreme Court, Pappa stated in a news release.

“I am honored to be selected to join the extraordinary team of talented, dedicated professionals at the Clark County Public Defender’s Office,” Lemcke said in the release. “I look forward to collaborating with those inside the office as well as our many justice partners and outside stakeholders to cultivate innovative, impactful ways of serving the vulnerable constituency we represent. I am thrilled beyond measure to help write the next chapter.”

Lemcke’s “extensive legal career representing some of the most vulnerable members of our society,” Schiller noted in the release. “Her experience, knowledge and dedication to serving our community make her the ideal person to administer the Clark County Public Defender’s Office.”

Lemcke received her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles and law degree from Pepperdine University.

The public defender’s office, started in 1966, has more than 200 employees, a budget of $36.4 million and represents almost 25,000 indigent defendants each year, according to Pappa.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow him @JeffBurbank2 on X.

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