At their Nov. 19 meeting, county commissioners again faced the question of how to proceed with appointing a new conflict public defender.
During the meeting, current conflict public defender Shain Manuele, of Ely, said he will be leaving his practice in January to take a new position with the state bar’s office in Las Vegas and will be turning his law practice over to Ely attorney Kristi Pickering.
Manuele was appointed conflict defender after former public defender Dylan Frehner was elected county district attorney (DA).
The public defender can only defend one defendant because it may be considered a conflict to represent all defendants. Therefore, the court, or in Lincoln County’s case, the commission board, must appoint a conflict attorney.
The contract Manuele has with Lincoln County expires June 30, 2019. Manuele has not resigned his position and would like the contract to continue until it expires. He has recommended that Pickering be appointed to take over as conflict public defender.
District Attorney Dylan Frehner said Manuele could make the recommendation for his replacement but the board was under no obligation to approve his assignment.
Matthew Carling, of Cedar City, also applied for the position of conflict public defender, stating he has private clients in Lincoln County, knows the county, lived here when he was the assistant district attorney under former DA Phil Dunleavy, has worked with former DA Daniel Hooge, and works well with current public defender Franklin Katschke.
Pickering spoke to commissioners by phone and said she has had extensive experience with the district court including with judges Fairman, Dubrescu, and others in both White Pine and Lincoln counties dating back to 2004.
Katschke said he knew Carling better than Pickering and would like to see Carling be appointed to fill the remaining six months of the contract.
Frehner said he had no preference with either person. He stated that “both are fine attorneys and equally qualified.”
After much discussion on various possibilities, commissioners voted 3-1 on Commissioner Higbee’s motion to keep the contract intact, approve the assignment of Pickering to fill the remaining time, and in July, reevaluate the contract and what direction they want to take.
The next commission meeting, Dec. 17, will be the final one for chairman Paul Donohue. He is leaving the board due to term limits and will be replaced in January by Bevin Lister. Commissioners will need to elect a new person to be chairman of the five-person board.