Prosecutor was reassigned after election |

Prosecutor was reassigned after election

Nevada County District Attorney Michael Ferguson reassigned prosecutor Jim Phillips to handling misdemeanor infractions after Phillips lost a political race in June against Ferguson’s favored successor.

Phillips, a veteran prosecutor, has more than 500 felony convictions under his belt. He has been recognized by victim-protection organizations.

He ran for Ferguson’s job, filing for candidacy a few days after Ferguson publicly announced his support for another prosecutor, Cliff Newell.

In the weeks following Newell’s election by a wide margin, Ferguson reassigned Phillips’ duties, moving high-profile cases of elder abuse to other prosecutors.

“I guess someone has to (prosecute) speeding tickets and stop sign infractions,” Phillips said Thursday. He would not comment on the situation any further.

“It had nothing to do with (Phillips) running for DA,” Ferguson said Thursday. “It was so I could get other attorneys in the office to handle more felonies. This is not retaliation for exercising his political right to run for election.”

Ferguson said he is trying to prepare the office for a shortage of staff, predicted when Ferguson retires Dec. 29 and Assistant District Attorney Ron Wolfson retires at the end of March 2007.

“(Wolfson) and I had been discussing workload issues in this office for over a year,” Ferguson said. “As an interim, we came up with this.”

He said neither Phillips nor any other prosecutor has complained to him about the reassignments.

Ferguson said Newell was not in on the decision to make changes.

“(Newell) was not in the loop,” Ferguson said. “He was never even notified or consulted about it.”

Ferguson added the reassignment is not a demotion because Phillips’ salary was not cut.


To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail or call 477-4236.

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