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Arabia taking over as Nye County’s top lawyer

A changeover in the leadership of the Nye County District Attorney’s Office is about to take place, with newly elected Nye County DA Chris Arabia set to begin his four-year term on Monday, Jan. 7. He said he is eager to start the next phase in his legal career and institute the changes he has been considering for the office.

“I want to thank the people of Nye County again for giving me this opportunity. I am really excited about having a chance to do this job,” Arabia told the Pahrump Valley Times in an interview. “The people of the county are going to be my boss and I am looking forward to doing a good job for them. This is a great honor and opportunity.”

Arabia outlined a series of goals for himself and the office over the next few years, beginning with alterations in the way the office functions. Arabia said his past experience as a defense attorney has given him key insights into areas that could be improved.

“My first goal is to improve and overhaul the operations of the prosecutions,” Arabia stated. “What I mean by that is better preparation and prioritizing and analysis of the cases to make better use of our time. I think this will result in better justice with the right cases being prosecuted with the right level of attention and the right allocation of resources, with the more frivolous cases being dealt with appropriately, whether that means dismissing them or making a favorable plea offer.”

As an example, Arabia cited certain cases with the DA’s office, such as a 2017 case he said was so weak it did not even meet the evidence standards for a preliminary hearing, which are at a fairly low threshold.

“At the end of the preliminary hearing, the justice of the peace dismissed it. Not because of fancy lawyer stuff, but because there were not enough facts… We wasted most of a day on this and the office then pursued it into district court to try to reverse the dismissal. They eventually stopped but the point is, they were spending a tremendous amount of time and energy on a case that was very weak. With some better analysis, that entire thing could have been avoided,” Arabia said.

A greater focus on particularly violent or dangerous crimes is something else Arabia said he wants to see. He detailed past cases involving child sex crimes which were dismissed, noting that he believed this was the result of lack of preparation by the DA’s office. “I don’t want to see us wasting time on the less important things and not having enough time to devote to, for example, murder, rape, child molestation, armed robbery, drug trafficking. There is no excuse to not have complete and total preparation for those… And when I say those are really important, that is not to diminish other matters but you do at some point have to prioritize,” Arabia said. “And being able to look at a case and see the weaknesses in it is something that I think the office can improve in too.”

As for his role as the legal representative of the county, Arabia said he will strive to limit the amount of liability the county is exposed to.

“When it comes to the DA’s role as counsel or the lawyer for the county commission and the government, I think there is a lot of room to improve the analysis of the issues and to provide the commission with legal examination as well as more practical analysis as to what might happen if they take a particular course of action,” he stated. “The task there is to position them to be able to make the best decisions they can for the county, both to improve the overall operation of the county government and to reduce liabilities and costs.

“I work for the people of Nye County and when the county incurs a liability, that is coming out of everyone’s pocket. I am hoping that with a little bit more of an attentive approach, we can maybe reduce some of the issues,” Arabia continued. “The county seems to get sued a lot and that is obviously unfortunate. And sometimes that cannot be avoided but sometimes it can and it’s a concern that I have had. That is something that is going to be improved. I am going to work well with the county commission and county government to try to protect all of us.”

As a final note, Arabia said community outreach is something he is very interested in, although as of yet he is not certain of the exact form that will take. “Community outreach. I am not going to do Donuts with the DA, partly because that was Angela Bello’s idea, that was her thing. I might do something similar though,” Arabia said. “I do want to know what people are concerned about. One of the things I like about Nye County is people are engaged and they will make their feelings known. If you consider the size of the population, the number of people who go to meetings and speak is actually quite impressive. I hope that continues. I want the people of this county to feel that they can express their concerns.”

Author’s note: The offer of an exit interview was extended to outgoing Nye County District Attorney Angela Bello but she declined.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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