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Bob Burns becomes new assistant district attorney for Nevada County

Bob Burns, the longtime district attorney for Lassen County, became Nevada County’s new assistant district attorney on Monday after being sworn into office by District Attorney Jesse Wilson.

Burns was selected by Wilson for the role in August, and brings almost 30 years as a prosecutor to the position.

After serving as a deputy district attorney in Lassen County from 1993-1998, Burns became the county’s district attorney, winning four consecutive elections to the office before leaving in 2014 to serve as the county’s chief civil adviser for another six years.



After a brief stint in retirement, Burns said he’s excited to begin working as a prosecutor again, and is confident that he has the necessary professional experience required to excel in the assistant district attorney role.

“While Nevada County is a different community with its own complexities, I’m hoping that my previous experience serving the public is an asset to this community, and I hope that Jesse will find my services valuable,” he said.



Burns said one of his goals while holding office in Nevada County will be to ensure that his work is above reproach, both ethically, and in terms of how he handles specific cases.

“In terms of drawing a parallel between my service in Lassen and what I bring to Nevada County, I think that similar to that former role, here I’d like to conduct myself in a way where I go to court, and then see people in the community later and can look them in eye and say that we did the right thing for the right reason, and it was honorable in terms of the way that we got there,” he said.

Burns’ extensive experience both as a prosecutor and specifically as a former district attorney factored into the decision to hire him in the assistant role, Wilson said in an email.

“We expect ADA Burns to be a significant asset to our office. He has a vast amount of experience as a prosecutor and as a district attorney. Someone who has not only prosecuted the most serious of cases, but has mentored and trained younger attorneys throughout his career.”

Burns also shares similar values and priorities as a prosecutor with Wilson, something that the district attorney said was another key consideration in selecting a candidate for the assistant position.

“In trying to find an assistant district attorney who would best serve Nevada County, Bob Burns’ experience and approach to prosecution stood out,” Wilson said. “He shares the office’s goals of prosecuting crimes in accordance with justice, focusing on the victims of crimes and working alongside our law enforcement community in protecting the public.”

APPROACH

Wilson has repeatedly emphasized his office’s victim-centric approach to prosecution since he replaced former District Attorney Cliff Newell earlier this year, an approach that Burns expressed he and Wilson have in common.

Newell stepped down from office in July. Nevada County Supervisors chose Wilson to fill the remainder of his term.

Like Wilson, Burns also emphasized that he intends on carrying an active caseload, noting that he was in the courtroom just as much as any other prosecutor during his tenure as Lassen County’s district attorney. In previous comments, Wilson has said that one of his priorities is to have all of the office’s prosecutors, including himself, actively handling cases in the courtroom, regardless of seniority or position.

“I’m not afraid in any way to go to court myself, I always carried an active caseload when I was district attorney…I expect to have a significant caseload here,” Burns said.

As he’s getting settled into his new role, the longtime prosecutor said that one of his first priorities will be to establish strong professional relationships with the other attorneys in the office, as well as with the district attorney’s local law enforcement partners, such as the Sheriff’s Office and the Grass Valley Police Department.

“For the office to run effectively, it has to essentially be good at communicating amongst itself, so I’m looking forward to meeting with the lawyers in the DA’s office, and I’m also looking forward to building bridges and meeting with local law enforcement, and eventually the larger community as well,” Burns said.

The assistant district attorney position had been vacant for almost two months since former Nevada County prosecutor Chris Walsh resigned from the role in early July. Walsh, who had served in the assistant role for four years under Newell’s administration, cited a poor professional relationship with Wilson as the primary reason for his resignation.

Burns said that Wilson holds an exceptionally demanding position, and expressed that he hopes to draw on his own experience as a former district attorney in helping Wilson tackle the challenges unique to this community.

“After four terms as district attorney in Lassen, I think I’m qualified to say that Jesse Wilson holds a very demanding position…I believe that the expectations of the community of him are great as they would be in any community for this position, and I want to help him meet those challenges.”

Stephen Wyer is a staff writer for The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at swyer@theunion.com

Bob Burns and Jesse Wilson after the swearing in ceremony
Nevada County District Attorney’s Office
Bob Burns, left, taking the oath of office, read by District Attorney Jesse Wilson.
Nevada County District Attorney’s Office
Full Statement of District Attorney Jesse Wilson on newly appointed Assistant District Attorney Robert M. Burns

Nevada County District Attorney’s Office is excited to welcome Bob Burns as the new Assistant District Attorney and newest member of our organization. We expect ADA Burns to be a significant asset to our office. He has a vast amount of experience as a prosecutor and as a District Attorney. Someone who has not only prosecuted the most serious of cases but has mentored and trained younger attorneys throughout his career. In 1998, Bob was the youngest District Attorney in the state of California. He went on to serve the people of Lassen County for 16 years in that position. He then transitioned to the role of County Counsel of Lassen where he continued his public service. In trying to find an Assistant District Attorney who would best serve Nevada County, Bob Burn’s experience and approach to prosecution stood out. He shares the office’s goals of prosecuting crimes in accordance with justice, focusing on the victims of crimes and working alongside our law enforcement community in protecting the public.


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