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New prosecutor to focus on domestic abuse cases

by F.T. Norton, Appeal Staff Writer

A new deputy district attorney has been hired in Carson City thanks to funding from a federal Violence Against Women Act grant.

Melissa Witker, 32, will handle domestic violence prosecutions for Carson City, said District Attorney Noel Waters.

“We can always use additional resources against domestic violence,” he said. “Having a person who is full-time dedicated to working these kinds of cases is a heck of a valuable resource for us.”

He said the advantages of having one prosecutor focus on domestic abuse will be far-reaching.

“Let’s face it, the whole idea behind this is to hold people accountable for this type of action,” he said. “Being both prepared and equipped is an advantage. We needed this position badly.”

The Carson City District Attorney’s Office now has 10 deputy district attorneys to handle criminal prosecutions, enforcement of child support and all legal matters affecting the government of the city.

Witker, who is licensed to practice law in Ohio, is awaiting the results of her Nevada Bar exam.

The grant is for $60,000 a year for three years. Waters said when the grant money is gone, his office will be responsible for Witker’s salary.

Under the Violence Against Women grant programs administered by the Department of Justice, the office has awarded more than $1 billion in grant funds.

These grant programs help state, tribal, and local governments and community-based agencies to train personnel, establish specialized domestic violence and sexual assault units, assist victims of violence, and hold perpetrators accountable.

A graduate of the University of Toledo School of Law, Witker found her way to the Carson City District Attorney’s Office when she began clerking for Washoe County District Court Judge Connie Steinheimer.

Prior to her venture west, she said, she worked under the same grant for the Toledo City Prosecutors Office while attending law school.

Until the results of the Nevada Bar Exam, due in September, Witker said she will be helping with appellate work. She is able to practice law in Nevada pending the results of her bar exam once she receives her certificate from Ohio.

“I love it here,” she said Thursday. “I’m positive I will be happy here. I might even start skiing again.”

ON THE NET

U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/

Carson City District Attorney’s Office

http://www.carson-city.nv.us/ccda/