Two current Assistant DA's vie for head position

YERINGTON - Regardless of who is appointed, neither of the two applicants desiring to complete departing District Attorney Robert Estes' remaining term should have a problem finding his way around the Lyon County Courthouse.

Attorneys John Schlegelmilch and Leon Aberasturi are assistant district attorneys under Estes.

Schleglemilch has worked for the county since 1991 and is currently serving as Estes' chief deputy. Aberasturi first worked for the county from February 1994 to April 1996. He returned to Lyon County in July 2000 after serving four years as a Deputy District Attorney in Lander County.

Estes is leaving Jan. 1 to fill the newly created judgeship for Lyon and Chruchill counties.

Appearing at the Dec. 15 commission meeting, each man discussed his qualifications and plans, followed with questions from the board. While Commissioner David Fulstone wanted the decision made immediately, the majority of the board agreed the final selection should be made at the Jan. 2 commission meeting.

"It is a tribute to Lyon County we have two fine young men like this applying for this position. I compliment Estes' foresight in placing qualified people in his office. I have a lot of respect for both of them," Fulstone said. "I believe we should make the decision today to give time for a smooth transition."

Commissioners LeRoy Goodman and Phyllis Hunewill wanted more time to delve into references and consider all available information.

"I understood this was just to be interviews today. I want more time to consider," Hunewill said.

In answer to commissioner concerns with the trend toward plea-bargaining to compensate for overcrowded jails, Schlegelmilch and Aberasturi appeared to concur that it was a necessary part of the justice system.

Plea bargaining "may be a dirty word, but the system would not work without it. We could not build enough jails to handle the offenders," Aberasturi told the board. "But we must look at each individual case."

Schlegelmilch, noting the Legislature has taken away court discretion in some cases, said, "Without it, courts would be backlogged."

Both applicants began their service in Lyon County as legal advisors to the Planning Commission and other advisory boards. They have each worked with the county Child Support Enforcement program and handled criminal prosecution work.

"I am very interested in the position of district attorney," Schlegelmilch said. "I have been with the county for nine years and handled all types of legal work. I have a good understanding of local government law and feel I can do a good job and Lyon County would benefit from my service."

Aberasturi stressed the position was created to serve the people, stating, "The office is a position of public trust, not about me. The position belongs to the people. We are there to help them and the county. As a prosecutor, the DA position is the best job in the world."

There are two years remaining of Estes' four-year term as district attorney.


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