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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


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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 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 . 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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It’s not difficult to find tips online on how to get out of jury duty. Legal experts note there is a historic decline in the number of civil jury trials, both at the state and federal level. That’s the reason a luncheon panel comprised former jurors who served in the federal or state court in Southern Nevada was held in early September. The luncheon was a forum to learn from the former jurors how jury duty can be improved. The panel opened up to an audience of judges and attorneys about their experience of serving on a jury. The discussion and information gleaned will be included in a national Civil Jury Project study to solve the mystery of why jury trials are on the decline. The valuable information the panelists revealed at Las Vegas Jury Improvement Lunch can be viewed on the Civil Jury Project website Lunches conducted in other cities can also be viewed on the site

Moderator Steve Susman, the executive director of the Civil Jury Project at New York University (NYU) School of Law, floated some unconventional suggestions for discussion as ways to improve the jury service experience. The suggestions were diverse including: the idea of no sidebars to eliminate wait time for discussion of issues out of the presence of the jury; what and when jury a can discuss issues of the case; and what questions lawyers can ask during jury selection. The question of providing one verdict form per jury versus one per each juror was raised. The moderator raised the idea that jury selection would be more efficient if jurors had more information up front and asked the panel’s input on giving complete opening statements to all potential jurors.

Research on potential jurors was also a topic of discussion. The moderator asked,Do you think the selection process disclosed biases?” Susman raised ethical concerns and asked the jurors if they feel it is an invasion of privacy for attorneys to gather information about potential jurors on social media. Former juror Tabitha Gerken responded, “It’s inappropriate, but it’s expected.” When pressed why, she said, ”you’re asking the jurors who are taking time out of their life; they can’t talk to their spouses; they can’t talk to their friends; you’re asking them to be impartial, but then there’s other people, who they don’t know, who they’ve never met, who get to judge them from the outside by what they have on social media or on the Assessor’s page, or whatever. I don’t think it’s appropriate, but I expect it anyway.”

Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Michael Villani, who had been selected to serve as a juror in a trial, noted that the jurors he served with questioned all the downtime. He shared that the experience made him more aware when he is presiding over trials. He said, “I tell jurors that while you’re waiting, we are working. I give them that little phrase so they know we are not just back there chit-chatting, that there is something important going on; that’s why there is a delay.”

Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Timothy Williams said that he uses jury questionnaires in about 50 percent of his cases and added that one of the issues that a District Court Jury Commission is looking at to save time is online jury questionnaires. He said, “We’re trying to devise a way where lawyers can actually submit their questionnaires in case specific and individual to the jury commissioner and have those answered.”

The moderator asked if it would be helpful to have more instruction from judges on deliberation. Federal District Court Judge Richard Boulware said that he would be open to giving jurors structure. He said, “I’ve heard from jurors that no one really tells them how to deliberate.”

A former juror at the session shared that, when he served on a jury, it wasn’t clear to the jurors what charges the witnesses were testifying on.

The difference between evidence driven deliberation and verdict driven deliberation was also discussed. According to Susman, empirical research shows jurors more satisfied when do evidence based deliberation and it’s harder to change minds once someone has already voted.

The use of straw polls was discussed. The suggestion was made to conduct straw polls with anonymous notes that include a not sure option. The idea is to reduce the potential for social pressure to influence  juror decisions.

When it comes to jury selection, Susman shared that 35 jury trial consultants told the Jury Project that questions: where do you get your news, and which person do you admire most and why, are more important than almost any other question to ask potential jurors.” Susman questioned the appropriateness of such questions.

All the former jurors agreed they would be willing to serve on a jury again and offered suggestions to improve the experience. Moderator Steve Susman indicated that common themes have emerged nationally about the jury process including: it was very repetitive; the trial lasted longer that it needed to because the lawyers just repeat themselves; there’s a lot of down time and wasted time before you even get selected.

The panel in Las Vegas was done in cooperation with the courts and the Clark County Bar Association.  Information learned will be part of New York University’s Civil Jury Project, the only academic center in the country dedicated exclusively to studying civil jury trials. The Civil Jury Project goal is to find out why jury trials are vanishing, whether this is a bad thing, and, if so, what can be done to prevent their decline. The juror luncheon in Las Vegas was the 18th held across the nation for a study that includes more than 260 state and federal judges, legal professionals and academics.

The participation of the former jurors and judges was greatly appreciated, including those jurors who were in the audience. Their input was invaluable and will help to ensure the Civil Jury Project reflects the views of our community.

To see the discussion visit the Civil Jury Project website:

Tina Marie Pescatori reveals what she experienced when she served on a jury








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AlvogenCaseminuteOrderJudge Elizabeth Gonzalez issued a minute order Wednesday in the drug company case, Alvogen Inc., vs. the Nevada Department of Corrections, requiring supplemental briefings due by Sept. 26. A status check on the court’s decision in chambers is continued to Sept. 28.

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Lawyers are invited to discover what’s new in Discovery and get .50 continuing legal education (CLE) credit at the Sept. 11 Civil Bench-Bar Meeting at noon in courtroom 10D at the Regional Justice Center. Discovery Commissioner Bonnie Bulla will give a brief overview of selected proposed changes to the Discovery Rules.

Judge Jim Crockett will also lead a discussion of the application of Mulder v State, 116 Nev, l, 992P2d845 (2000).  Judge Tierra Jones  will provide and update on civil overflow and the impacts to those in civil practice. Brian Downing, the department 27 law clerk will provide a Nevada Supreme Court case presentation. Lunch will be provided for the first 60 attendees.

Last year, Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez issued Administrative Order 17-05 that rolled-out a pilot project on July 1, 2017 to begin to examine the potential benefits of centralizing the management for homicide cases with the intent of improving efficiency in the management and timely disposition of such cases.

The Homicide Case Team was established consisting of four district judges including Judge Douglas Herndon, who also serves as the team’s case management judge, Judge Valerie Adair, Judge Jennifer Togliatti and Judge Eric Johnson. Judge Michelle Leavitt recently joined the Homicide Case Team and Judge Johnson resumed a civil/criminal caseload in July 2018. The team handles all of the homicide cases filed in Clark County. The intent is to improve the ability to schedule cases with viable dates for trials, and implement rigid case management protocols with the parties regularly reporting their progress in court. By limiting homicide cases to just four judicial departments, the courts have improved the ability to bring consistency to the handling of the homicide cases,  and enabled more realistic trial settings. The change also facilitates the ability of the judges to ensure that discovery obligations are met, and investigations and preparation for trial are done.

At a recent criminal judges meeting, Judge Michael Villani, who serves as the presiding criminal judge, recognized the homicide team of judges, the attorneys and the jail staff for the rigorous work they’ve done processing cases. In just over a year, they have accomplished a lot.

Detention Transition Services Coordinator Sandy Molina, with the Clark County Detention Center, gave a brief report on the major impact on closing cases the homicide team has had on the county and jails. She conveyed that after the July 1, 2017 kickoff, it took four to six months to fully ramp up. In just one year, $1,284,840 has been saved from 8,566 saved Clark County Detention Center bed days for 83 people.

These results are important because money and wasted resources are saved. The bed days saved also help to address the critical state of jail overcrowding and improve safety at the jail.

Most importantly, the families of homicide victims are seeing cases brought to resolution in a more timely fashion, allowing them to begin the process of moving on with their lives.

Part of the impetus for the pilot came from the Nevada Supreme Court Commission on Criminal Procedure, overseen by Justice Michael Cherry and Justice Michael Douglas. A subcommittee on Criminal Trial Practice for Life/ Death Penalty Cases offered input from the Clark County offices of the District Attorney, Public Defender, Special Public Defender, the Office of Indigent Counsel, and their counterparts in Northern Nevada.

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A Keeping Kids in School Summit will be held to bring those involved in education, justice and youth services together to ensure the path is clear for students on a school to success pipeline. The summit will be held on September 21, from 8:45 a.m. until 4 p.m., at the Valley High School Theater, 2839 Burnham Ave. The summit is hosted by the Eighth Judicial District Court, the city of Las Vegas Department of Youth Development and Social Innovation and the Clark County School District.

The agenda will cover hot topics in education, justice and youth services professions including:

8:45 – 9 a.m.                 Welcome and Introductions Dr. Jesus F. Jara and Dr. Lisa Morris Hibbler

9 – 10 a.m.                    Restorative Justice Jennifer Beskow and Dr. Zachary Robbins

10 – 10:50 a.m.             De-escalating Conflict in School Captain Ken Young

11 a.m. – 12 p.m.          Legal Rights of Youth Displaced from School  Kelly Venci

12 – 1:15 p.m.               Lunch

1:15 – 1:45 p.m.            Creating Positive Connections with Students James Dudman

1:45 –  2:15 p.m.           Charging Youth for School Related Behavior Brigid Duffy

2:15—3 p.m.                 Early Childhood Education Dr. Michael Maxwell

3 – 4 p.m.                     Panel Discussion      Judge William O. Voy, Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson, Dr. Tiffany Tyler, Dr. Tammy Malich   and Director Jack Martin

Those who are interested in attending should contact Sheila Scott at




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The Eighth Judicial District Court is accepting employment applications for court hearing master from today, until the closing Sept. 18, 2018 at 5:01 p.m. The hearing master job is an exempt position and rules and procedures governing the competitive process, do not apply.

This position will be assigned to the Family Court Division and responsible for hearing matters and rendering legal opinions and decisions in case law in the areas of family and juvenile law. This may include matters related to abuse and neglect, delinquency, child support, or domestic violence.

Once hired, the hearing master may not engage in the private practice of law. Eligible applicants must be a member in good standing of the State Bar in the State of Nevada and has been so for a minimum of five (5) continuous years.

Candidates are required to submit a resume (and preferably a cover letter). Resumes must be received by District Court Human Resources prior to 5:01 p.m. on the posted closing date. Resumes must be submitted to the attention of EJDC Human Resources Manager Edward May via fax at (702) 671-4560, or email at, or mailed/hand-delivered to the Regional Justice Center—District Court Administration, 200 Lewis Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89155-1791.  Candidate’s name must be clearly written on the resume. The annual salary range is $106,870.40 – $165,609.60.

Employment is contingent upon successful completion of a background investigation. A subsequent employment background investigations may also be conducted.

The hearing master is responsible for duties including: to hear court matters pursuant to Nevada Revised Statutes and procure the attendance of witnesses by issuance of subpoenas; require the production of evidence; take evidence and rule upon evidence admissibility; hear arguments; make findings of fact, conclusions of law and makes recommendations; provide information to attorneys and interested parties over the telephone, in person or through written correspondence; assist in the drafting and reviewing proposed legislation; research implications of such legislation and makes recommendations as required; make presentations to professional, educational and community groups regarding the assigned function; confer with representatives of other county departments to coordinate and facilitate work; plan, organize, assign, supervise, review and evaluate the work of assigned support staff; recommend selection of staff; train staff in work procedures; administer discipline as required; contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of the unit’s service to its customers by offering suggestions and directing or participating as an active member of a work team.

The position involves physical demands including: mobility to work in a typical office or court setting and use standard office equipment and computers, vision to read printed materials and a computer screen, and hearing and speech to communicate in person or over the telephone. Accommodation may be made for some of these physical demands for otherwise qualified individuals who require and request such accommodation.








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Former jurors, who have recently served in the Nevada federal or state court, are sought for a panel on Sept. 5, from noon to 1:30 p.m., at the Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse, Jury Assembly Room, to give input on how to improve the jury system. The participants will be provided lunch compliments of the New York University’s Civil Jury Project and the Clark County Bar Association.

Former jurors who have recently served in the Nevada federal or state court and would like to participate in the panel can RSVP to or (562) 304-6364 to attend. Lunch will be provided. Transportation and parking expenses will be reimbursed.

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