August 02, 2004

Better days ahead for Las Vegas P.D.'s Office

Las Vegas newspapers report on new Clark County Public Defender Phil Kohn's recent move to put the brakes on the prosecution's former practice of offering take-it-or-leave-it offers at initial appearances to defendants with charges as serious as felonies, and the resulting pressure on p.d's to plead mere minutes after meeting the client. At least one judge has come up with an improved system he calls the early offer calendar, which still looks like a cattle call from the outside, but sounds like a step in the right direction:

More to the point, Phil Kohn sounds like he's moving Vegas indigent defense in the right direction all around. It's a huge turnaround since the bad old days when management ran Nevada's biggest criminal defense firm as Nevada's biggest dumptruck lot. You'll recall the debacle surrounding the old chief's dereliction, reported to have included fighting harder for Anglo than Latino clients as a virtual office policy, and using in-house polygraphs to decide which murder clients deserved a vigorous defense and which didn't. This summer Clark County paid out $5 million to a poor murder defendant, now exonerated, who was up on the row for 14 years thanks to prior management. Here's wishing new management and all the colleagues in LV best wishes for the battles ahead.