Changes are coming about quickly, more quickly than expected, in the County Courthouse in Pioche.
District Attorney Daniel Hooge has accepted a position as chief bar counsel for the state of Nevada in Las Vegas and is expected to tender his resignation soon.
Therefore, the commission board has put an action item on the Aug. 20 meeting agenda to appoint newly elected District Attorney Dylan Frehner as interim D.A. until he is officially sworn in on Jan. 1, 2019.
In the meantime, Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Franklin Katschke has also been approved to be the new public defender for Lincoln County, a post currently held by Frehner.
The 32-year old Katschke, who grew up in Lincoln County, had previously presented a contract proposal to the board, seeking the position of public defender, before the current situation occurred.
Two lawyers from Ely, Shain Manuele and Jane Eberhardy, also appeared before the board on Aug.13 with a contract proposal of their own to serve as county public defenders.
Manuele commented, “We thought there was a possibility we could help with the transition of Frehner leaving the office of public defender and into the D.A.’s office. In light of current events, it’s going to be happening very quickly.”
They explained there might be possible conflicts arising in certain upcoming cases in where the person who had been public defender would now be serving as the prosecuting attorney.
They felt they could help resolve those issues, and offered a one-year transitional contract. “We think many of the possible conflicts in some of the known upcoming trials in Lincoln County could be taken care of in that one- year period,” Manuele said.
Manuele has experience in Lincoln County. He has a current contract to serve as conflict counsel and was once an assistant to Frehner in private practice.
“This is a unique situation for everyone,” Eberhardy said, “And we do have the experience and could hit the ground running.”
Later during the meeting, Katschke, the current ADA, made his case for being appointed public defender.
He said, “At the moment, I would not have any conflicts coming out of the district attorney’s office.”
He said he thought, “the level of possible conflicts, as presented by Mr. Manuele and Mrs. Eberhardy, were exaggerated. My new representation of clients would not affect the state or the county in any way.”
Commissioner Nathan Katschke, although a relative of Franklin Katschke, said their family connection is far enough apart, as spelled out in the Nevada Revised Statutes, as to not create a legal situation of concern.
He echoed what 7th Judicial District Court Judge Gary Fairman said earlier in the summer, that Lincoln County “should continue to go with local counsel.”
Commission chair Paul Donohue said Manuele will continue his current contract with Lincoln County to serve as conflict counsel when such situations arise.