Unlikely pals — prosecutor, defender — happy to join forces

At first glance, District Attorney David Roger and criminal defense lawyer Peter Christiansen would appear to make an odd legal couple.

After all, Roger spent his entire career as a prosecutor, taking dozens of homicide cases to trial before becoming district attorney. Christiansen, meanwhile, as a criminal defense lawyer has represented some of Southern Nevada’s more notorious criminals.

But the two men are also the best of friends. Roger said Monday that friendship and mutual respect are key reasons he chose to go of counsel with Christiansen’s law firm.

“I’ve been locking horns with Pete for many years,” Roger said Monday. “He’s a tremendous trial lawyer. He’s extremely trustworthy, and I look forward to working with him.”

Christiansen said: “I’m lucky enough to have one of the best prosecutors and trial lawyers ever in Clark County joining the office. It’s a good thing.”

The two also have forged a strong friendship over the past 15 years.

“He was the best man at my wedding,” Roger said. “He’s like a brother to me.”

While Christiansen is most well-known as a criminal defense lawyer, he also has a successful civil practice. Longtime prosecutor Roger won’t start representing accused killers, but he is expected to take on civil cases.

Roger said his decision won’t have a negative impact his pending arrangement to become the lead counsel for the Police Protective Association, the union that represents Metro police officers. He said he expects to meet with PPA Executive Director Chris Collins before the end of the year.

Roger’s last day in office is Jan. 3. The Clark County Commission will choose his replacement.

ENDLESS ELECTION: Those of you who had bet the North Las Vegas City Council race between Richard Cherchio and Wade Wagner was over had better hang onto your tickets.

Attorneys for Cherchio have filed a motion to reconsider in his hotly disputed, one-vote loss to Wagner. Represented by Matthew Callister and Mitchell Bisson, Cherchio has secured an affidavit from Joel Alexander, who admits he voted improperly and cast his ballot for Wagner.

But Alexander also missed a scheduled November deposition.

Cherchio’s attorneys contend they found a total of three illegal or improperly cast ballots that would have swung the election in their client’s favor. District Judge Susan Scann declined to disqualify the votes of James Chaney Jr. and Greg Mich’l.

Scann has set a Jan. 4 hearing date in the matter.

COSTCO SHOOTING: The family of the late Erik Scott, who was shot and killed by Metro police on July 10, 2010, at the Summerlin Costco, continue to push for more information from store employees in the ongoing litigation in U.S. District Court brought by attorney Ross Goodman.

Costco counsel, meanwhile, is pushing for a protective order to halt Goodman’s depositions. The family is suing Metro but still has time to include the store.

PLAYING SANTA I: The folks at U.S. Vets have found hard-working allies at Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel and the Four Queens just in time to help Southern Nevada’s homeless former military members. Employees learned of the need late last week and started donating to U.S. Vets’ annual Holiday Wish List drive, which ends Wednesday. (For more information on the drive, check out usvetsinc.org or call 366-0456.)

PLAYING SANTA II: Workers at the Southern Nevada office of the Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation and their community partners once again showed their holiday spirit by providing Christmas presents for the students of Whitney Elementary.

Whitney is located near Tropicana Avenue and Boulder Highway. Most of its students come from families that live below the poverty line. Many of the students are homeless.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Email him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith.

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