Attorney will second chair youth camp
Gardnerville defense attorney and chessmaster Derrick Lopez confirmed his next move will be taking the position of China Spring Youth Camp assistant director.
Lopez has a quarter of a century working in the juvenile justice system, both as a prosecutor and a defense attorney.
“He has prosecuted and defended thousands of delinquency cases,” District Judge Tod Young said in a letter to Douglas County commissioners. “Through that work he has become intimately familiar with youthful offender programs, diversion and educational options.”
Lopez, 56, has volunteered at the camp, where he taught chess to children held there as a means to show them the importance of planning and consequences.
Young said Lopez gave each child a chess set and board to keep.
Lopez was one of 22 candidates for the position and one of the top four Young interviewed.
Young, who as a defense attorney had to face Lopez as a prosecutor in the courtroom, said he has a “keen ability to negotiate and manage complex issues.”
Young said Lopez will be taking a pay cut to take the position.
Lopez is a 1983 graduate of Stanford University.
He washed dishes, served as a snack bar attendant at a grocery store and waited tables while working his way through law school.
He said he rode the bus to Arizona State University College of Law from his parents’ home in northwest Phoenix.
He was admitted to the Nevada Bar in 1990. He served as a prosecutor from 1991 to 2000, and again from 2003 to 2006, when he opened his law office in Gardnerville.
He’s also been a Carson Valley Little League assistant coach, secretary of the Carson Valley Babe Ruth League, and a Douglas High varsity baseball team scorekeeper and statistician.
In a 2015 letter applying for the position of district judge, Lopez said he’s studied chess since he was a young man, competing in U.S. Chess Federation tournaments.
“I rose to the level of expert during that time, and was ranked among the top five chess players in Arizona under the age of 21, back in 1978,” he said. “I learned through chess never to become too complacent or to underestimate an opponent, and that no matter how difficult a position may be, there is generally a way to struggle on.”
He said he also learned how to accept defeat.
“For in chess, as in many life endeavors, you learn more from defeat than you do from victory.”