County attorney-elect outlines transition plan

by karla pomeroy

“I’m excited for the next four years. I’ve come up with a way that I feel will best benefit the county, community and this office,” she said.

She said he would like to bring in a special deputy county attorney for three to four months to help with the criminal cases while she gets the office organized and gets a complete understanding of the schedule of cases that are upcoming.

She said the person she has in mind would be part-time and not need any benefits. After the three to four months she would look at hiring a different attorney for the permanent deputy county attorney.

“I need to get in there first and see what I have to know, what kind of staffing we need (before hiring anyone permanently),” she said.

She said she would also like to bring in a civil attorney for again three to four months. This attorney would work on a contractual, per hour basis. She said the civil attorney would “work with me and help make sure things don’t slip through the cracks.” She said the person would also sit in on commissioner meetings to be available, but the person would meet directly with her to go over cases.

Adams said she does plan to hire a permanent legal assistant to start the year and has someone in mind for that position, as well.

She wanted the commissioners to know about her plans and if there are any concerns or changes they could let her know. She will meet with the commissioners again at their Dec. 2 meeting.

The commissioners only concern expressed last week were regarding finances. Chairman Jerry Ewen said some civil attorneys request a retainer, which is not cost effective for the county.

Commissioner Keith Grant reminded Adams that Big Horn County is the fifth poorest county in the state, and to keep that in mind when budgeting.

Adams said she has looked at the current budget and believes her transition proposal would fit within the current budget.

“My goal is to be as frugal as possible,” she said.

Adams said she also had drafted a letter to current County Attorney Michelle Burns requesting to access the office prior to Jan. 5, 2015, in order to familiarize herself with the files and processes. The letter, she said, was a recommendation from District Court Judge Robert Skar. She said she would be respectful of Burns if she declined early access.

She added that she is gaining valuable experience working as the deputy county attorney in Washakie County. The work she said has her feeling confident as she heads into the new year and begins duties as Big Horn County’s next county and prosecuting attorney.

Adams said she would like to be able to attend some Department of Justice trainings offered one to two times a year and will be looking at expanding youth alternative programs if possible.

“I want this to be an office everyone feels comfortable with. It’s doable and we’re going to have a good team,” she said.