Plea bargains are sometimes necessary, says new deputy DA

Storey County's new deputy district attorney is no stranger to Virginia City, having filled in for Justice of the Peace Annette Daniels on occasion.

But now Laura Grant will be prosecuting suspects, rather than sitting in judgment, having been sworn in as Storey County's deputy district attorney on Monday.

"I want to get back into the system," she said. "I've always enjoyed prosecuting."

She was aware that plea bargains have been at times controversial in Storey County, and said she will handle things on a case-by-case basis.

"Sometimes it's a necessity," she said. "You have to balance a lot of things, like is it a crime against a person, is there a victim with strong feelings?"

She also said public sentiment needs to be considered in deciding whether or not to offer a plea bargain, as well as county finances.

"If we did a death penalty case a month ago that bankrupted the county, can we afford to do another one," she said. "There are all sorts of things you have to consider."

Though most of her past experience has been as a prosecutor and a judge, Grant didn't know exactly what her role will be in Storey County, saying that's up to her boss, District Attorney Harold Swafford.

"We might just go out back and duke it out and see who wins," she said jokingly. "No, seriously, I'll follow his lead. Harold has his goals and it's his office. He sets the policies and priorities and tells me what he wants me to do."

Grant, who has three grown children, served as a deputy district attorney in Elko County and as a Justice of the Peace and Municipal Court Judge in West Wendover.

Though Storey County Sheriff Jim Miller headed up the Elko County Sheriff's Office in the past, Grant said she didn't know him there.

"He left about two years before I got there," she said.

She said with plea bargains, as well as other matters, she will follow the direction of her boss, "but that doesn't mean I won't use my own judgment."

Grant has handled all kinds of cases, she said, typical for a small county like Elko or Storey, and unlike Carson City or Washoe County, where deputy district attorneys are more likely to specialize.

She is still in private practice, handling some cases she took on before this job came along.

Grant said she approaches most things, even crime with a sense of humor.

"Except child molestation and rape," she said. "There's nothing funny there."

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.


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