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Clark County DA Seeks Re-Election Facing Questions About 2014 Race

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AP Photo/Chase Stevens

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson arrives before the arraignment of Lakeisha N. Holloway in district court Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015, in Las Vegas.

Of all the races on the June ballot, few offices touch as many people as Clark County district attorney.

It prosecutes more than 60,000 criminal cases a year, including nearly 10,000 juvenile cases. It enforces child support orders. It handles civil litigation for Clark County. And it decides which murder defendants face the death penalty.

District Attorney Steve Wolfson is seeking re-election to the job he’s held since 2012.

“If you look at my eight years as city councilman and my six years as the district attorney, I think my experience, my balance, my fairness and my overall work performance I believe that I deserve to be re-elected,” he told KNPR's State of Nevada.

Wolfson said he brings a balance and perspective to the table as DA because he has been a prosecutor and a defense attorney. 

However, his tenure hasn't been without controversy.

Most recently questions were raised about how Wolfson handled the theft of campaign funds four years ago by a trusted aide with a gambling addiction. The money was repaid, but no reports were filed with police.

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Wolfson said he personally contacted the Secretary of State at the time, Ross Miller, who told him to contact the head of elections for his office, which he did. Wolfson also talked to the county manager and this own human resources director about how to best handle the manner.

Critics said the DA’s office showed a double standard because it often opposes alternative sentencing for defendants with gambling problems.

Wolfson pushed back on that criticism.

“We do this kind of alternative to prosecution on a regular basis in the DA’s office if they meet the criteria,” he said.

The criteria, according to the DA, includes remorse and efforts to get treatment for a gambling addiction.

He did admit that the gambling court needs improvements and he has created a task force to address problems with the statute. Wolfson said the task force hopes to have suggestions on improvements during the next legislative session.

He would also like to see improvements in the state's appeals process. He said it takes far too long for cases to go through the appeals process. 

Wolfson also supports changes to the state's bail process. He said a commission created by Supreme Court Justice Jim Hardesty is already putting reforms into place, including a risk assessment tool that he says better helps determine who should be released from jail and who shouldn't.

Besides bail reform, critics have pointed out that Clark County sends more people to death row than any county in the country except one, Riverside County in California.

Wolfson said when he was elected he wanted to cut down on the number of death penalty cases and he did.

However, he said the death penalty remains the law in the state of Nevada and a majority of people in the state support it so he will continue to apply to the "worst of the worst."

"As long as the death penalty is the law of the land and as long as 70 percent of Nevadans are in favor of it, it is my obligation to ask our jurors to consider it in some cases," he said.

And critics have wondered why Clark County chose to hire outside counsel to sue pharmaceutical companies over the opioid epidemic.

Wolfson said the law firm of Eglet Prince has expertise in these types of lawsuits and has been extremely successful in winning them.

He also dismissed the idea that there was a connection between a recent campaign fundraiser held by the law firm and his office's decision to work with them on the opioid lawsuit.

"I’ve been a lawyer in this town for a long time," he said, "So has Mr. Eglet and so have many of his partners. I’ve known them and they’ve known me for many, many years. So there’s no connection whatsoever.”

Wolfson is running against Las Vegas defense attorney Robert Langford, a fellow Democrat who is scheduled to talk to State of Nevada on Tuesday.

Because no Republicans filed in the race, the winner will be determined in the June 12 primary election.

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Steve Wolfson, Clark County district attorney

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