Nevada County supervisors pick Jesse Wilson as new DA
Special to the Sierra Sun
Former Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Jesse Wilson will become the county’s new district attorney after a 3-to-2 vote Tuesday of the Board of Supervisors.
Wilson, currently an El Dorado County deputy district attorney, is slated to take the position July 11, the day after current District Attorney Cliff Newell steps down.
“I’m feeling excited,” Wilson said after Tuesday’s vote. “I think it’s the beginning of a new era in the DA’s office, and I’m happy to spearhead it.”
Wilson beat out two other candidates, Colusa County District Attorney Matthew Beauchamp and Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh, for the position.
No candidate achieved a majority in the first round of voting. Supervisor Ed Scofield was the lone vote for Walsh. Supervisors Heidi Hall and and Hardy Bullock voted for Wilson. Supervisors Dan Miller and Sue Hoek voted for Beauchamp.
That vote eliminated Walsh as a choice, and Scofield changed his vote to Wilson in the second round.
Supervisors on Tuesday asked the candidates to describe their management style and how they would address employee retention, mentoring, training, conviction rates and conflict of interest within the District Attorney’s Office.
Wilson has said he left this county in part because the office had a less than satisfactory conviction rate.
“My leadership style, I’ll be leading from the front, by example, and the DA’s office will no longer be an administrative position, but I’ll be in court,” he said.
Wilson also noted he has expertise in training of what is right, and how to do right. As a manager he said he’ll keep an open line of communication with staff and let them know what to expect from the department. Wilson stressed that he’ll build a team based on the strength of individuals.
“You need ethics to know not just right from wrong, but you should know how to charge a case, try a case,” he said. “And you should not be charging vulnerable people without proving beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt.”
Walsh said that the number one need of the office is stability. When he arrived four years ago, there was no collection of team members who had the same cause and were going in the same direction. It took time and motivation to build that team.
“Yet we have that now, dynamic individuals, but who share that kind of mindset,” said Walsh. He said he was able to bring over individuals from other counties with specific expertise in various aspects of criminal justice.
“If we have stability, we’re going to have people who grow, develop and become leaders in not only our office but the community and eventually from the bench,” said Walsh.
Beauchamp maintained that when one is a trial lawyer, a lot of skills involve strategy and implementation, and that comes with time.
“My management style includes discretion,” he said. “I’m not going to micromanage the Deputy DAs. But if you resolve your case, be able to explain why it resolves to that.”
Beauchamp emphasized the district attorney has to build on a culture of success, knowledge, ethics and integrity.
“If you don’t follow your ethical principles, you’ll never reach justice,” he said. “That’s what I instill in my deputies.”
William Roller is a staff writer with The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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