Legal Ethics

Judge Sees 'Devastating Effect' If New DA's Prior Defense Work Knocks Office Off All His Old Cases


Steve Wolfson was a busy defense attorney before he was appointed in January to serve as district attorney for Clark County, Nev.

That has presented a problem for his new colleagues, who have been dealing with efforts to disqualify the entire DA’s office from prosecuting at least seven cases due to Wolfson’s claimed prior involvement as legal counsel for the defendant, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

In March, the DA sent an internal memo listing 83 former cases from which he was to be walled off by others in his office, the article recounts. Not on the list, however, were two that have been in the news recently:

Edris Ghani, who is facing charges over a fatal car crash, won a ruling several weeks ago that a special prosecutor must be appointed because of what the judge described as “a true and extreme conflict of interest”–the DA’s former representation of Ghani. That ruling is now being appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, another judge on Thursday delayed ruling on the same issue–whether the DA’s office is conflicted out of prosecuting Sidney Jacobs in a fatal child-abuse case due to Wolfson’s prior representation of Jacobs–in the hope that the Nevada Supreme Court would offer guidance before the next scheduled hearing, on June 20.

If the DA’s office is conflicted out of prosecuting a large number of Wolfson’s former cases, that “could have a devastating effect” on the office, said Henderson Justice of the Peace David Gibson Sr., who is presiding over Jacobs’ case.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Judge OKs Special Prosecutor, Calls DA’s Prior Work for Fatal Crash Defendant an ‘Extreme’ Conflict”

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