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eighthjdcourt

Info about the Eighth Judicial District Court.

As a court employee, I often get the question, “how do I get out of jury duty?” Those who really have a hardship can get out of serving. But those who just don’t feel like serving could be missing out on an experience that is not only interesting, but might help them navigate the law in their own lives. We might be better off using reverse psychology and telling people that only a very special, select group of people get to serve; then, everyone would want to serve. Most judges have a story about a potential juror who tried to get out of serving and then ended up really liking the experience.

At District Court, we get tours from judges and court employees from around the world including: China, Russia and the Ukraine. They don’t use juries; but, they are definitely interested in the American system of jury trials. Our justice system is respected and viewed as a model worldwide. Jury trials are one of the many rights guaranteed by the Constitution that make the United States exceptional.

Bethany Barnes with the Las Vegas Sun interviewed judges and got a sample of the excuses people use to skate out on jury duty http://lasvegassun.com/news/2014/feb/28/dog-ate-my-summons-and-other-unique-excuses-get-ou/.

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Image              Family Court is now accepting applications from attorneys interested in serving as Pro Tem Hearing Masters in Domestic Violence/TPO, Child Support/Paternity, Mental Commitment, Guardianship, Juvenile Delinquency and Dependency, Discovery and Truancy Courts.  This recruitment occurs on a regular basis to insure that trained attorneys are available to assist the Court in those roles. Anyone who is interested is required to submit an application, whether they have previously served as a Pro Tem Hearing Master or not.  Applications from interested attorneys are due on or before March 28, 2014.

            Attorneys who apply should be aware that specific training will be required of any who are selected, prior to sitting as a Pro Tem Hearing Master.  They should also be aware of opinions of the Standing Committee on Judicial Ethics and Election Practices which would affect them, including Opinions JE 99-004 and JE 04-003.

             Those who are interested in applying for the first time, or in continuing to serve as a pro tem, should contact Angelica Baltier at baltiera@clarkcountycourts.us or 455-4622 to receive an application.

            Following the due date, applications will be reviewed and selections made.  It is possible that more individuals than the number necessary will apply.  Thus, applicants will be notified whether they have been accepted and, if accepted, when their training will occur.

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Six judges were in attendance for the Dec. 10 Civil Bench Bar meeting. Recent Supreme Court decisions were a prominent topic. Lawyers who are looking to use Power Point presentations in cases were advised to look at 59703 – Watters v. State another opinion of particular interest 55817 Perez V. State http://supreme.nvcourts.gov/ . Judge Kenneth Cory will be taking on the docket from the outlying areas. A civil case reassignment to distribute Judge Cory’s civil caseload will be effective Jan. 4. The next Civil Bench Bar will be Jan. 14 at 12:05 p.m.

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AlvogenCase Alvogen

A conference call will be held today at 3 p.m. in courtroom 3G with attorneys in case filed for injunction on the use of the drug midazolam proposed for use the scheduled execution of Scott Dozier  before Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez.

 

Complaint AlvogenCase

The July 10 Civil Bench Bar Meeting at noon in courtroom 10D will offer up the latest information on changes to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practices. Attorneys who attend, will get the added benefit of .50 hour credit continuing legal education (CLE). The ADR update by Commissioner Erin Truman will be followed by a Nevada Supreme Court case update.

At the June Civil Bench-Bar Meeting, assistant court administrator Mike Doan with IT gave information on a File and Serve update. When documents are filed, all those on the case service list are noticed immediately. Prior to the change, the document would go into cue to be approved by the Clerk’s Office. If a document is rejected, notification will be sent to the service list in a separate email. It is incumbent upon the attorneys to check if a hearing is scheduled. The document link remains active for 30 days.

Many of the judges at the meeting weighed in on an informative panel discussion on jury selection that was facilitated by Bradley Johnson and Jake Smith. Jury Commissioner Mariah Witt was on-hand to address questions.

Attorney can see what judges preferences on jury selection are by visiting the court website: http://www.clarkcountycourts.us/departments/judicial/civil-criminal-divison

The topics of social media checks on jurors, jury selection time limits and jury questionnaires were discussed.

Some tips included what cannot be asked during voir dire:

There was a lot of discussion on jury questionnaires, which are reportedly being used with increased frequency. A panel member offered up a tip that it is unwise to use a question that opposing counsel has not stipulated to, because it may get raised as an issue later.

The Jury Commissioner gave a summary the process for questionnaires. The summonses for questionnaires are sent out around six weeks in advance. Jury Services works questionnaires in their trial schedule. Questionnaires are fit in between trials Jury Services can have multiple questionnaires in a week therefore is best to have advanced notice on the need to do questionnaires. A special briefing is given to potential jurors prior to questionnaires. Potential jurors are provided with an instruction sheet to inform them when they’re coming back. Notifications can be sent to potential jurors via email or text.

A number of judges offered up some thoughts on questionnaires. One judge said that lawyers don’t get to have grass under their feet but encouraged patience for jury selection, adding voir dire is an important phase of the case and questionnaires are good in cases that warrant them. Another judge added that if people are repeating themselves or going far afield there is an effort to speed them up.

Another judge reminded attorneys in attendance at the Bench-Bar that trials are our jobs. For jurors this is not their job and reminded that jury service takes jurors away from their job their family. In a relatively short trial or straightforward case, if potential jurors are forced to come down multiple times for a three-day trial, they are not going to be happy. Those at the Bench-Bar were urged to be cognizant of the inconvenience to potential jurors. Several judges also noted that potential jurors are lost when questionnaires are too long and if people are repeating themselves or going far afield an effort is made to try to speed them up. Those at the Civil bench-Bar were reminded that the jury questionnaires are a public record and attorneys must ensure that questionnaires don’t exceed the bounds of propriety.

Attorney Aileen Cohen spoke on the Cancer Action Network and urged those at the Bench-Bar Meeting to advocate on behalf of cancer programs. The meeting closed with a summary of new civil decisions by the Nevada Supreme Court.

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AlFtizgerald

Former Clark County District Court Marshal Al Fitzgerald passed away July 1, 2018.  He was born June 2, 1937 in Boston MA and resided in Las Vegas for the past 37 years.  He served in the U.S. Army, worked for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority as an Inspector for 23 years, and then as a Bailiff/Marshal for the Clark County District Courts for 30 years.  He served in the courtrooms of Judges Charles Thompson, Joseph Pavlikowski and Kathy Hardcastle before retiring in April of 2012. Al is survived by his wife of 58 years, Kerin, his nine children, 23 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his great-grandson, Emmitt, in June of 2018. Services will be held Saturday July 14, 2018 at 10 a.m. at Palm Mortuary, 7400 W. Cheyenne, Las Vegas NV 89129.  In lieu of flowers his family requests donations to Cure4theKids or the Fallen Officers Foundation.

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Congratulations to Marshal Johnathan Miller, a new graduate from the Southern Desert Regional Police Academy and recent addition to the Security Division of the Eighth Judicial District Court. Johnathan was one of a handful in his class who graduated with an outstanding grade point average (GPA).

Guest speaker United States Marshal Gary Schofield, stressed ethics and accountability when he addressed the graduating class. He reminded the new law enforcement grads, “The badge doesn’t belong to you. You get a different badge when you retire in good standing.”

Miller and others in his class completed 22 weeks of tough training including: arms, fight, tactical, vehicular, mental health and other essential training. They are tased, tackled, tormented and tested to their limits to ensure that they can withstand the intense rigors of being in law enforcement.

District Court is looking to recruit others who would like to serve as a marshal. Military veterans are encouraged to consider joining the marshal force. The court is working with the Las Vegas Urban League, Nevada Partners, the Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation and the College of Southern Nevada to sponsor military veterans for the Criminal Justice Academy P.O.S.T. certification. Those interested in applying should complete a bailiff/deputy marshal application from the county website employment section

HTTP://WWW.CLARKCOUNTYNV.GOV/DEPTS/HUMAN_RESOURCES/PAGES/EMPLOYMENTOPPORTUNITIES.ASPX.

Marshal Miller is the ninth graduate from the program.

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On July 1, the new fiscal year begins. The new year brings a new chief judge and presiding judges at District Court.  Judge Linda Marie Bell was elected to replace outgoing Chief Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez.  The chief judge maintains responsibility for managing the administration of the court. Judge Bell will continue to hear specialty court cases during her tenure in the chief judge post. Judge Gonzalez will return to hearing civil, business and mental health court cases.

Judge Michael Villani will take over as the criminal presiding judge from Judge Doug Herndon. Judge Jerry Wiese will take on the post as the presiding civil court judge from Judge Susan Johnson.  Presiding judges manage the business of their respective division.

On her last day as chief, Judge Gonzalez sent out a thank you to court employees. “I wanted to express my gratitude to each of you to your hard work in making our Court more accessible to the community. We have worked as a team to improve our time to disposition and access to all of our community. The work we have done as a group is a testament to each of you. The courtesy and respect shown to those who appear in our court system is something of which I am very proud. Thanks again to all for your contributions to this success,” said Judge Gonzalez. “The court administration team worked tirelessly in support of our strategic goals. Those of you who work behind the scenes in administration and the clerk’s office keep the wheels of the organization moving, without even being seen. Although we do not see you on a daily basis, know that your work is appreciated.”

Judge Gonzalez closed her email with, “It has been my honor to serve as your Chief Judge. I wish Judge Bell and her leadership the best of luck in continuing to make improvements on access to justice and time to disposition.”

During her term as chief, Judge Gonzalez established a jury services committee and put into action a plan to add active voter registration names to the Court’s Jury Master List. Judge Gonzalez implemented improvements to how minor guardianship and involuntary commitments are handled. She spearheaded logical enhancements to business practices to maximize space and proximity to enhance interface at the court with a business pod and a guardianship/probate pod. Management for homicide cases was also centralized under her leadership to improve efficiency in the management and timely disposition of such cases.

“I want to extend sincere appreciation to Judge Gonzalez for her hard work and significant accomplishments as the chief judge,” said Judge Bell. “Not only did she maintain a heavy and complex caseload, she accomplished much for the court during her tenure as chief judge.”

“I also want to thank Judge Herndon and Judge Susan Johnson for their work in the role of presiding judge. Both the Civil and Criminal divisions have made impressive progress under their leadership,” said Judge Bell.

July 1 will also usher in docket changes, and courtroom/chamber moves. A summary of those changes can be found in this related story: Change is coming to District Court https://wp.me/p1tnuA-1tQ

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Judges_l

In a letter addressed to Governor Brian Sandoval, Judge Jennifer Elliott announced her retirement, effective June 30, from the District Court Family Division Department L.

Her letter cited proud accomplishments including: her work with the dependency mother’s drug court, adult drug court, veterans court, the Truancy Diversion Program, the Cooperative Parent After Divorce Program and the UNLV Family Court Property and Debt Mediation Program.

“I have enjoyed the privilege of serving as a District Court Judge in the Family Division, Department L Clark County, Nevada since January 2003,” said Judge Elliott. “I also had the privilege of working with many distinguished judges and professionals and serving on many committees over the years. I am grateful for having been given the opportunity to serve the children and families of Clark County, State of Nevada.”

The Nevada Commission on Judicial Selection, a judicial body created pursuant to the Nevada State Constitution and governed by the Nevada Revised Statutes, will facilitate the process to fill the judicial vacancy. The commission is charged with filling judicial vacancies that occur before expiration of a term of office. The commission reviews applications from attorneys, interviews and then nominates three potential candidates for a final selection by the governor.

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New proposed statewide rules for guardianship were a hot topic at the recent Joint Guardianship/Probate/Trust/Elder Law Bench Bar Meeting. James Berchtold and John Michaelson, who both served on the Nevada Guardianship Commission sub-committee tasked with developing new guardianship forms, provided an overview. The sub-committee that worked on the forms kept pro se litigants in mind as they developed and vetted the forms. It is not clear yet if the forms will be mandatory. The new proposed rules are referred to the Nevada Rules of Guardianship Procedure NRG. The EJDC guardianship rules that the court had been operating under have been suspended.

There are 81 proposed forms for guardianship, totaling 360 pages. The comment period for the proposed rules and forms closes July 5. See the First Interim Report Attached Proposed Guardianship Rules and Forms Filed First Interim Report of the Guardianship Commission.at this link:  18-20489

Comments must be made in writing to the Nevada Supreme Court by July 5, 2018, at 5:00 p.m. to the Nevada Supreme Court Clerk’s Office, 201 South Carson Street, Carson City, Nevada 8970.

A public hearing will be held July 18 at 1:30 p.m. in the Nevada Supreme Court courtroom at 201 S. Carson Street in Carson city, NV and video-conferenced to the courtroom at 408 E. Clark Ave in Las Vegas. (Filed Order Scheduling Public Hearing and requesting Public Comment: 18-20646).

Another topic of interest at the joint bench-bar meeting: The Electronic Notary Act is going into effect July 1. Assembly Bill 413 out of the legislative committee on the judiciary has the details: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/79th2017/Bills/AB/AB413.pdf

As of July 1, remote notarization will be allowed  in Nevada, one of first three states to adopt the new law governing electronic notarization of documents. Special training and licensure requirements are necessary to perform electronic notarization, including the requirement that the  Notary archive  the electronic record of the notarization process. The Secretary of State’s Office has  prepared for the new process, and  plans are in the works to have a representative attend a future joint bench-bar meeting to provide an overview of the statutory changes and related  regulations, and address questions.

The question of presumptively confidential documents was discussed at the bench-bar. A reminder was given to be cautious about including personal information such as Social Security numbers that can be viewed publicly. Attorneys were directed to ADKT 410 section 6 on redaction https://www.leg.state.nv.us/CourtRules/PCD.html and  Supreme Court Rules  Part VII  Rules Governing Sealing and Redacting Court Records.

Judge Gonzalez asked those in attendance at the bench-bar meeting for comments on processes to improve probate and adult guardianship. A court committee has been established to examine ways to improve those processes. The incoming Chief Judge Linda Marie Bell will chair the committee. Comments can be directed to her office.

The joint bench-bar meetings are a great way to stay current on what’s happening in the areas of guardianship/probate/trust/elder law.

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