Elect Roger Whomes

Richard Gammick, running for reelection as district attorney, inadvertently demonstrated his limitations during a radio interview this week.

He said he “went to law school, and I went there with one intent—and that was to come back and be a prosecutor. That’s all I wanted to do. That’s all I want to do in the law. I don’t care about the rest of the law.”

With those kinds of blinders, a district attorney cannot do the job. Prosecution is only one part of the job. He has to administer his office and provide counsel for the rest of county government. A district attorney who is indifferent to other issues is a lawsuit against the county waiting to happen. Of course, in this case, it has not waited. Litigation is pending against Gammick and his office.

The Washoe County District Attorney’s Office also provides legal advice for county agencies. Gammick’s disinterest in those aspects of the job led to the snarled litigation over property tax assessments in the Incline Village area that could have been settled more quickly—and cheaply—if Gammick had given it his full attention and good judgment.

That’s another problem with Gammick’s single-minded focus. It distorts his judgment. When he occasionally and indifferently dips into civil matters that hold no interest for him, he’s likely to skim the issues and reach shallow conclusions. Parents trying to collect unpaid child support need quality oversight from their district attorney.

Even in the criminal portion of the job, Gammick is so driven to prosecute that he loses all perspective. A district attorney’s criminal duties do not just involve prosecuting. Unlike a defense attorney, whose job is simply to defend, a prosecutor’s job is not just to prosecute. It is also to make sure that justice is done. Sometimes that involves making the decision not to prosecute. Read that sentence in the second paragraph above. If your life and reputation depended on a decision by Richard Gammick, would you trust him to do justice? If he wants to be a prosecutor, it should be as a deputy under supervision of a real D.A.

Gammick’s conduct has been called into question repeatedly.

There is a lawsuit pending that charges sexual harassment and workplace violence in the district attorney’s office.

Two years ago, Gammick conducted a personal campaign to try to defeat Nevada District Judge Robert Perry. Gammick revealed that a quarter of a century ago, he had squirreled away secret files involving the judge’s claimed drug activities when Perry was a young lawyer. Perry was never prosecuted, and there was no way in 2008 for Gammick’s files to be subjected to the normal examination by both sides to determine their legitimacy. The notion of Washoe’s district attorney acting as a junior J. Edgar Hoover, collecting personal files on his enemies, is profoundly disturbing in its ethical implications.

Richard Gammick does not have the temperament, the restraint, or the administrative skills to be a district attorney. He should not be one, particularly when there is a better choice in his opponent Roger Whomes. Whomes has nearly two decades of experience as a prosecutor, but his experience—and interest—does not end there. He has been a juvenile probation officer and a police officer. His website offers evidence of greater openness with the public. (The unmarried candidate even reported his current personal relationship.) Whomes has good judgment and perspective. He should be elected.