Nye County Deputy DA Don Chairez loses battle with COVID-19


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Another Nye County public servant has lost his battle with COVID-19. Deputy District Attorney Don Chairez passed away Thursday morning at Spring Valley Hospital.

The county district attorney says this comes a mere three days after the passing of Justice Court Bailiff Gerald “Bear” Smith. He also died from complications related to the virus.

According to a death announcement provided by Chairez’s daughter Monica, he tested positive on December 20, 2020. She admitted him to the hospital on Christmas Eve due to shortness of breath, and he was on oxygen therapy for almost 30 days.

“We are devastated, and our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to Don and his family, as they do to Bear and his family,” said Nye County District Attorney Chris Arabia in a news release. “Don was a beloved father, husband, brother, and a beloved figure around the Pahrump Courthouse.”

The Nye County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) and other Southern Nevada agencies escorted Chairez from the hospital to a mortuary.

The DA’s office highlighted Chairez’s long career in law, spanning from his time as a District Court Judge in Vegas from 1994-1998 to joining the Nye County DA’s office in March 2019. They say he practiced criminal defense and immigration law, and at one point, ran for Congress.

“Don was just an unassuming, nice person who did a great deal to promote justice over his long and varied career,” said Arabia in the release. “He was a great legal mind and courtroom lawyer and, unlike a lot of attorneys, he also excelled at making people smile.’

During his career, Chairez also worked as a prosecutor for the Clark County and Washoe County District Attorney’s Offices. Officials say while a judge, he presided over 25 murder trials. When he was an attorney, he worked as counsel in around 90 jury trials.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, District Attorney staff and Nye County family,” wrote NCSO in a Facebook post.

Funeral services will be held in Las Vegas, Monica said in the announcement. She noted gifts may be made out to the Don Chairez Scholarship at the UNLV Foundation. You can give here.

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