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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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