Defender job at stake

By Mike Linn: CNJ news editor

The outgoing district attorney and a longtime public defender are vying for the top position in the district defender’s office, which will become open after Oct. 29.

Assistant public defender Jim Wilson, an Idaho native, and District Attorney Brett Carter are scheduled to meet with the state’s top public defender in two weeks to discuss the position, Wilson said.

Both are looking to fill the position of 9th Judicial District defender Calvin Neumann, who is retiring after 25 years in the Clovis office.

Gov. Bill Richardson will make the decision on the position. Carter said he does not know of any timetable in place.
Carter, who lost his re-election bid in June to incoming District Attorney Matt Chandler, said he wants to remain a state employee until retirement.

His experience as district attorney will help if he gets appointed to the position, he said.

“I think experience on either side helps, (but) I think going from prosecutor to the defense helps you probably even more,” said Carter, who has been a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office for 17 years, including two as district attorney.

He said he expects challenges if appointed.

For example, Carter said the public defender’s office has fewer resources, including older computers and fewer attorneys than the district attorney’s office.

Wilson has been a public defender in Clovis for 11 years, and said he enjoys his job immensely.

“I’m a career public defender … this is a natural career progression really,” Wilson said. “(I like) helping people, helping the people sometimes society frowns upon, even spits at. It’s nice to be that service for people.”

He said he is indebted to Neumann for teaching the importance of his job to clients, no matter what their plight may be.

“It’s hard to put into words what he’s done. He’s basically taught me my job — not quite from the ground up — but pretty close to it,” Wilson said.