County attorney settles into new role
January 20, 2015
Robert Hilder is quickly acclimating to his new role as county attorney, but says there is a "steep learning curve" in some areas.
Hilder was sworn into office on Jan. 5 at the Summit County Courthouse along with two other newly elected and several returning officials. He replaces David Brickey, who ran unopposed as the county attorney for the last 10 years.
Hilder is now responsible for prosecuting all criminal matters in the county, as well as overseeing juvenile court and any civil work or litigation.
Originally from Sydney, Australia, Hilder has worked in the judiciary system since he was appointed to the bench in 1995, but says "this is a different form of law."
"It’s an adjustment, but it’s been enjoyable," Hilder said. "Right now, I’m just doing a lot of background reading for the policies."
In a campaign that focused on criminal versus civil cases, Hilder promoted the civil side, along with his mediation and negotiation skills. But less than two weeks into his position, Hilder said he is engaging in both the criminal and civil sides of the law.
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"I want to be involved in the actual practice of the law on both sides," he said. "In fact, I just screened my first criminal case."
While Brickey promoted his interest in juvenile court, Hilder said he would be better employed in the adult court so he could be involved in both the civil and criminal divisions.
In addition to the time he has spent with the criminal division, Hilder has also been working to understand his role in advising other county elected officials about potential litigation.
"I have been working with the support of the staff to understand what we do to be able to take an active role," he said, adding that he believes in spreading the office’s resources where he can.
Since his becoming County Attorney, Hilder has attended every County Council meeting, although his participation has been minimal.
"It’s pretty obvious that Dave Thomas has incredibly mastery and he is doing everything he can to help integrate me in the role as counsel to the County Council," he said.
While Thomas serves as chief deputy attorney and Matt Bates serves as the prosecuting attorney, both of whom are answerable to the county attorney, Hilder said he considers himself "very much accountable" to them.
"I’m just there as support because they are both doing a great job," he said.
There were originally concerns that Hilder would make changes to the staff in the attorney’s office, but he has repeatedly said he doesn’t have any immediate plans to do so.
"We certainly are not looking at additional staff," he said. "I increased the time for our civil attorney so she is back to full-time, which gives us more support I think."
Hilder said while he has "many different plans" for the county attorney’s office, he’s only had two weeks.
"I need a little more time. I’ve been working and meeting with people in Park City in trying to get to know people," he said. "I’m in the normal adjustment period. It’s certainly been nothing that is negative and nothing that I don’t have the support to address or master."
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