Chet Adams is the Sparks city attorney, a position he’s held since June 1996. He is currently running unopposed for his second full four-year term. Adams, 47, was born in Oregon and grew up in Las Vegas (the poor man). He graduated from Northern Arizona University and Cal Western’s law school before moving to this area in 1979. He previously worked in the Washoe County District Attorney’s office and as the chief civil deputy in the Sparks City Attorney’s office before becoming the “big cheese.” Adams is known for his sense of humor, and he and his wife, Julie, have two kids: Kyle, 11, and Colin, 9.
So, is it Chet or Chester?
Then why does Frank X. Mullen at the Reno Gazette-Journal always refer to you as Chester in stories?
Well, Chester is my formal name. That appears on my business cards. I’m assuming that’s where he got it. But on the stationary and everything else, it says Chet.
How does it feel to be named Chet?
It’s good. It reflects an informal attitude and style. I try not to put on airs with people; it makes them feel uncomfortable.
What’s your favorite legal term?
“Justice delayed is justice.”
What the heck does that mean?
Essentially, the longer we can protract litigation, the more money the plaintiff will have to spend to sue the city. When we ultimately prevail, it creates a greater hardship for those who bring unmerited lawsuits.
Wow. That sounds harsh.
It is harsh. It’s a harsh profession. We deal with harsh facts and harsh scenarios. I refuse to give away the taxpayers’ money.
You’re known for your sense of humor.
I guess. It’s probably the way I look and dress that leads to that perception.
I see. What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you on the job?
On the job? Oh man
That you can say in a newspaper, that is.
OK. I was litigating a tax issue with a church that claimed an exemption for thousands of acres of undeveloped land, claiming it was an “outdoor cathedral.” During the trial, I objected to the minister’s testimony regarding what God had told him as hearsay. Immediately after I lodged the objection, the lights in the courthouse went off, along with the alarms, amid cries of anguish from the audience [after a transformer blew]. Opposing counsel, realizing the magnitude of the situation and understanding that God’s words should NOT be questioned in a court of law, immediately withdrew the question to the minister regarding what God had told him.
Did you win or lose that case?
We lost in [Washoe] District Court, but ultimately we won it before the Nevada Supreme Court.
Do you fear eternal damnation for yourself or the Nevada Supreme Court because of that?
I’ve often considered that prospect, and I have taken a personal vow never to challenge or otherwise contest what God has told another person.