Lyon DA 'seeks justice in every case'

Seth Meyer/Nevada Appeal Lyon County District Attorney Leon Aberasturi at his office inside the Yerington Courthouse.

Seth Meyer/Nevada Appeal Lyon County District Attorney Leon Aberasturi at his office inside the Yerington Courthouse.

Leon Aberasturi has been the district attorney of Lyon County since 2002. He lives in Fernley with his wife, Suzi, children Dillon, Taylor and Devin and a great Pyrenees/shepherd mix named Ikara that he snagged from a rancher in Smith Valley.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1967. I grew up in Tenafly, N.J., a small town of 15,000 in a county of approximately 2 million, which was across the Hudson River from New York City. I was raised a die-hard Yankee fan.

A Basco from New York City? Yes, the last name is Basque. My family originally emigrated from the villages of Ea and Arteaga in Spain. My grandfather was a Basque chef who worked on the ocean liners that traveled between New York and Europe. There are quite a few Bascos in the New York City area.

Are you married? Kids? I met my wife, Suzi, in Tucson, Ariz., at college, and we were married in Las Vegas in 1989. We now have three children, Dillon, Taylor and Devin. We live in Fernley.

What is your education? At the age of 18, I moved to Tucson and attended the University of Arizona. I graduated in 1989 with bachelor degrees in Russian language and history. I then moved to Moscow, Idaho, and received my law degree from the University of Idaho College of Law in 1993.

What is your work history? In 1994, I worked briefly in Lovelock and then moved to Fernley when I was hired as a deputy district attorney for Lyon County.

In 1996, I took a deputy district attorney position in Lander County. I held that position for four years until I returned to Lyon County a second time as a deputy. I held that position for six months until I received an appointment by the Lyon County Board of Commissioners to fill the vacant district attorney position in 2000. I was elected to a four-year term in 2002. I plan on running for one more term as district attorney in two years.

Why did you decide to practice law? I was very fortunate to attend a public school which emphasized self learning and the value of a college education. Only a handful of my graduating class of approximately 200 did not go onto college. Everyone assumed that college was the next step. Early on in my schooling, I found myself reading about political science and government. My eighth-grade history teacher presented interesting lessons on how our government was formed. We were given assignments on the U.S. Constitution, and I found myself reading articles on the courts' role within our government. In English classes, we were taught the classics such as "The Republic" and "The Prince," which also heightened my interest in the law and justice.

The practice of law requires a perception as to how people interact. To practice law, one must constantly learn and adapt. It presents quite a challenge.

What prompted you to run for district attorney in the first place? District attorney is the world's greatest job. As a prosecutor, I represent the citizens of the state of Nevada. My goal is to seek justice in every case. I never have to question why I am doing this job or whether what I do is important.

What is your favorite part of the job? On the prosecution side, it is when I help bring closure for a victim. People do not realize the immense psychological trauma or effect crime has upon victims. It feels good at the end of a hard case to see the relief on the victim's face and then receive a thank you.

On the civil side, I like working on the public projects. It's somewhat satisfying to walk by a newly constructed building, knowing it will be there for decades and that you played a role in its construction.

Least favorite part? As district attorney, I see too much of the pain and hurt that exists in our society. I must review report after report in which a person committed a ridiculous act for the most base reasons. The absolute worst is having to review suicide reports. It is difficult sometimes to maintain a balanced perspective and remember that it is a sad and beautiful world.

What's the biggest change for the Lyon County District Attorney's Office that you would implement? The rapid growth in Lyon County will require satellite offices within the next five years. The Highway 50 corridor will require additional staff and prosecutors. I am already planning to shift an additional prosecutor into the Dayton Justice Court within the next six months.

The office is slowly evolving to a community-based prosecution model. As I gain more staff, I can have prosecutors work more closely with community groups to open up lines of communication and identify priorities. One example of a community priority is the Code Enforcement program. We have had great success with the Code Enforcement program and will be working with the commissioners to create additional approaches to cleaning up some of the more troublesome areas.

What is the one thing about Lyon County that you'd like to change? The pace of the growth. I have trouble understanding the rush.

What are your hobbies? Harassing my kids to do their homework and chores. I also enjoy walking my dog around Fernley during the evening. Writing the weekly newsletter for the Yerington Rotary Club.

Favorite philosopher? Epictetus. The stoics just seem to have a better grasp on life.

Favorite TV lawyer? Jack McCoy on "Law and Order."


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