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April 24, 2014

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Steve Wolfson named district attorney, replaces David Roger

Updated Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 | 5:02 p.m.

The Clark County Commission this afternoon named Las Vegas Councilman Steve Wolfson as district attorney.

Wolfson replaces David Roger, who stepped down this month with three years left on his four-year term. Roger has taken a job as an attorney for the police union.

Wolfson has worked as a federal prosecutor but more recently as a criminal defense attorney. The other finalists, selected by a county panel, were former Clark County Democratic Party chief John Hunt and Drew Christensen, director of the Clark County Office of Appointed Counsel, which selects private attorneys to represent indigent defendants.

The commission's newest member, Mary Beth Scow, made the motion to select Wolfson. The vote was 6-1, with Commissioner Lawrence Weekly casting the lone vote opposing the appointment.

The audience was filled with supporters of Hunt, including representatives from unions and minority groups. Following the vote, several chastised commissioners for not listening to their opinions.

"You're still working the same old way," Marzette Lewis said.

She said Metro Police officers will pull over black children in poor neighborhoods and make them sit on the curb, even if they haven't done anything wrong. "It's going to be the same for my little black boys and my grandchildren. This is what you have done today — I hope you can sleep with some kind of conscience, because you have no conscience," she said.

Pastor Sylvester Rogers told commissioners their vote signified that minorities in Las Vegas "are still in slavery."

"You're a bunch of liars, that's all I can say," Rogers said.

Commissioners said they didn't know beforehand how their colleagues were going to vote, as some of their critics contended. In fact, the vote tally might have been more divided had Weekly not called for a "7-0 vote" on the appointment.

Commissioner Tom Collins told Wolfson the only reason he voted for him was to support Weekly's request for a unanimous vote. "I disappointed a lot of my constituents and friends," Collins said.

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said that while she had voted for Wolfson she would hold him accountable.

She was asked how she could do anything now that he's in office. "I would make a motion to reconsider our vote," she said.

Weekly said fellow commissioners may have misunderstood him. He wanted a unanimous vote to give the new district attorney a show of support, but said his colleagues should still vote their conscience.

Weekly voted for John Hunt.

"I think all eyes will be on the new district attorney," he said.

When Wolfson rose to speak following his appointment he was subdued. He promised to do everything he had said he would throughout his campaign: improve the DA office's communication with the public and other county entities; increase diversity in the office; address the office's large number of pending death penalty cases; and give the new coroner's inquest system a try.

"I've made comments to the board, and I told you the truth," he said.

After the meeting, some commissioners privately said they think the angry outbursts after the vote might have made Wolfson realize how closely he will be scrutinized.

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  1. What choice? The only candidate of the original seven with a legitimate claim on the office was Judge Chairez, who garnered a quarter million votes from the public specifically for this position. The three finalists' total public vote count for this position was exactly zero. This process was deeply flawed from the beginning and, while members of the Black Community are justifiably angry with the final decision, this apparently was ratified by their own leaders (apparently with interests similar to those of the Clark County "establishment" who pinpointed Wolfson from day one). Can the excellent reporters of the Sun please shed some light on this process? Why were three, rather than five finalists selected? Was it to make certain that Chairez had no public forum? Ed Uehling

  2. This is no surprise.

    Been talking to people in the county for weeks and they all said Mr. Wolfson was the man that would be appointed.

    Not a single person named anyone else.

    Politics all the way around here.

  3. Let's see how he handles Metro's bullies with badges.

    "...our sense of fair play which dictates a fair state-individual balance by requiring the government to leave the individual alone until good cause is shown for disturbing him and by requiring the government in its contest with the individual to shoulder the entire load..." -- Murphy v. Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, 378 U.S. 52, 55 (1964)

  4. I am so disappointed. We had the chance to really make things better in Clark County. So much for listening to the "Voice of the People" I guess it is not only Congress that has a tin ear.

    Much sadness for what could have been... and for a Commission that took away hope. I really thought they would do the right thing.

  5. So this appointee worked as a federal prosecutor, but recently a defense attorney. Must have been a reason for switching sides. Now he wants to go back to prosecuting........seems like is not the best choice, as he obviously has a soft side toward the Criminal part of the Criminal Justice System, and I don't want our new DA to be soft. He needs to be completed focused on protecting the residents, not protecting the criminals as his last position was.

  6. "completely" focused.........sometimes fingers DO NOT go where directed on keyboard.........