Public defender to run for Division 5 court seat

KINGMAN - Mohave County Public Defender Dana Hlavac announced last Tuesday that he will be running for the Mohave County Superior Court Division 5 seat on the November 2008 ballot.

Hlavac will need to get the appropriate signatures to get on the September 2008 Republican primary ballot.

Following the primary ballot, the general election will be held in November.

"It's going to be a long 16 months," Hlavac said.

Robert R. Moon, the current Division 5 judge, will not be seeking re-election. In his position, Moon handles criminal, civil and domestic relations cases.

"It isn't a normal situation," Hlavac said. "We have a sitting judge who said he's not returning."

Hlavac, like Judge John Taylor for the Cerbat Precinct, announced his decision to run for the Superior Court seat more than a year in advance of the election.

"I think the people have an important decision to make about the future of their county," Hlavac said. "They need plenty of time to get their information and make a decision.

"It's better than them getting it crammed into two months and have them guessing."

Hlavac said he was spurred on to become involved with law after having to watch the process first-hand with his father and mother. Hlavac said he was inspired after his father was given six-months probation and no jail time after repeatedly physically abusing his mother.

"I thought, 'I'm going to grow up and fix it one of these days,'" Hlavac said.

His mother raised Hlavac and his two siblings before he joined the military. Hlavac has four years of military service with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the 508th Infantry of the 82nd Airborne and the Fourth Engineer Battalion, obtaining the rank of captain.

Hlavac said he was encouraged to stay in the military, but he decided it wasn't the direction he wanted to continue in his life.

"I've always been focused on public service and attempted to make the world a better place than when I got here," he said.

Hlavac started his own private practice handling cases in Colorado and Arizona for more than a decade. Hlavac said he did a lot of pro bono work for Ronald McDonald's Children's Charity.

Hlavac then went on to become the chief deputy district attorney for the 3rd Judicial District in Colorado.

After losing a bid for district attorney in a primary election, he was chosen for his current position in 2001.

One of the reasons Hlavac chose Kingman, he said, was due to the small-town feel.

"Something about Kingman and the way I was received felt like home," Hlavac said. "It's a place where you can make a difference, a place where you can get to know your neighbor."

The time spent as a prosecutor and as a defender has given Hlavac experience for the position.

"One thing I think I bring to the position is I'm very unique," Hlavac said. "I've been a chief prosecutor and a chief defender. I've seen both sides."

Hlavac said he will be able to take that knowledge to the bench, as well as his knowledge of diverse cases from business law to medical malpractice to criminal.

"We're such a growing community," Hlavac said. "I think our judges need to be flexible and be able to handle all aspects of law.

"As our county population grows, I'll have the ability to take on the cases the presiding judge assigns to me."

Hlavac sees the position as more than just sitting on the bench. He said, if elected, he plans on working on a new law and justice center, as well as improving judicial facilities for the county.

The current public defender said he has shown his resourcefulness and planning in the past with the transition of his office to a larger, existing facility without overusing the county funding.

He also referenced his work on recent legislation on the Joint Committee for Youthful Sex Offenders as proof of his ability to reach out and work with other agencies to get tasks done.

"I don't think we can afford to waste these gifts, these opportunities, we've been given," Hlavac said.

Hlavac has three children from a previous marriage, the two eldest have disabilities. He has served on several boards for groups representing individuals with disabilities.

He remarried and is living in Kingman.

Hlavac has served as the treasurer and is currently the vice president of the Arizona Public Defender Association. He is a member of the Colorado State Bar Association, Arizona State Bar Association, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the American Council of Chief Defenders.