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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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Presiding Family Division Judge Bryce Duckworth, Governor Steve Sisolak, Chief Judge Linda Marie Bell

The population of Clark County is on the rise and is projected to surpass 2.4 million in 2021. That’s a 25 percent increase since 2011.  Nevada Assembly Bill 43 increases the number of district judges in certain judicial districts, including the Eighth Judicial District that serves Clark County. In 2021, the Eighth District will get six new Family Division judges.

“This is a great example of all branches of government coming together to solve issues,” said District Court Chief Judge Linda Marie Bell who testified at the Legislature on behalf of the bill. “I extend my deepest gratitude to  Governor Steve Sisolak, the Nevada Legislature, the Clark County Commission and County Manager for their tireless efforts to improve our community through access to justice for Clark County children and families.”

Family Civil Domestic filings increased from 49,294 in 2011 to 63,650 in 2018, a 29 percent  increase. Civil commitment filings are up an astounding 86 percent. The court initially sought 15 judges to keep pace with growth and change. The new judges will help address the growing population, the increase in filings and the need to fill gaps created when juvenile dependency and guardianship cases were added to judicial dockets.

At the Legislature, a number of officials and others made comments in support of the bill, no one spoke up to oppose it. “Adding these new judges will help to meet the priority to ensure that cases that impact the most vulnerable in the community, children in the child welfare system and families, move through the system as quickly as possible,” said presiding Family Division Judge Bryce Duckworth.

 

 

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A gambling diversion treatment court mock trial with Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Cheryl Moss filled a conference room at the 17th International Conference on Gambling & Risk Taking on May 30 at Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The mock trial presented a step-by-step look at a gambling diversion eligibility hearing.

More than 500 professionals from at least 34 countries from across the globe came to the gaming mecca of the world to learn what’s new. Topics at the four-day conference included innovation in policy, regulation, consumer protection, and problem gambling. Judge Moss presided over the mock trial with participation from moderator Carol O’Hare with Nevada Council on Problem Gambling; Dayvid Figler and Caitlyn McAmis with Figler Law Group; Sydney Smith with RISE Center for Recovery; and  Stephanie Hui, Eighth Judicial specialty court coordinator and a volunteer from the audience. The question and answer session ran over as doctors, gaming executives, researchers and other professionals peppered Judge Moss and the mock trial team with questions.

The District Court gambling diversion treatment court is the second in the nation. As gambling is springing up in states across the nation, the gambling treatment court is breaking ground in a much needed field. Professionals from courts in several states have been researching the Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court model for adoption in their courts. “The International Conference on Gambling & Risk Taking was a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness about our gambling diversion treatment court to the world,” said Judge Moss, who presides over the specialty court.

Judge Moss has been invited to multiple future conferences to present on the gambling treatment diversion court including speaking engagements for the State Bar of Nevada Gaming Law Section, the National Center for Responsible Gaming, and the State of Rhode Island Judiciary and treatment professionals.

The Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court specialty courts are an effective way to prevent participants from revolving through the justice system. Specialty courts, solve issues through a rigorous and coordinated approach between judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, Parole and Probation, law enforcement and mental health/social service/treatment professionals. All work together to help participants recover, live crime-free and become productive citizens.

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The Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court will celebrate a new class of specialty court graduates on May 10 at 3 p.m. in the jury services room of the Regional Justice Center, 200 Lewis Ave. The graduates will include two who are part of a specialty court prison re-entry program.

The District Court was recently awarded a grant of nearly $350,000 from the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) Bureau of Behavioral Health Wellness and Prevention Opioid State Targeted Response (STR). The grant is being used for a comprehensive specialty court prevention plan with medically assisted treatment (MAT) for opiate abuse among those who are re-entering the community after incarceration.

An estimated 65 percent of individuals in U.S. prisons and jails have a substance abuse disorder. Opioids rank high as their drug of choice. Medically assisted treatment paired with counseling treatment, has proven to be an effective way to address addiction, put a dent in the opioid epidemic and stem the related criminal activity. Effective treatment provides better results at a lower cost than repeated incarceration.

Specialty court coordinators, the parole re-entry unit, and prison/jail professionals work together to identify program participants who go through an intensive six-month program that begins with a three-month stabilization period. Participants are placed in coordinated care housing and receive inpatient and/or intensive outpatient services, case management, medically assisted treatment, discharge planning and assistance with coordination of long-term housing, permanent housing, and assistance with obtaining food stamps, medical care, Medicaid and other programs such as Social Security. They are also provided case management around employment assistance including referrals, and training. The goal is to increase employment among the participants to improve the likelihood of success, cut substance abuse and decrease recidivism.

“This Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health funding enables the court, with the help of the Nevada Department of Corrections, to effectively tackle the epidemic of opioid abuse that is thwarting potential rehabilitation for those who are released from incarceration with a substance abuse issue,” said District Court Chief Judge Linda Marie Bell, who presides over the MAT specialty court. “We cannot incarcerate our way out of the opioid crisis. Creative solutions such as this must be used to stem the tide of this epidemic.”

“The infusion of federal funding to Nevada continues to allow us to improve access to treatment and recovery support services for people with significant barriers to care.  We know that individuals within the criminal justice system have a greater risk of overdose death than other people.  Through this collaboration with the Eighth Judicial District, we hope we can reduce that risk and support people to move to full recovery from opioid addiction.  Medication Assisted Treatment is the gold standard for care and access within court systems is critical in addressing the opioid crisis,” said Dr. Stephanie Woodard, DHHS Senior Advisor on Behavioral Health, from the Division of Public and Behavioral Health.

Specialty courts, solve issues through a rigorous and coordinated approach between judges, specialty court coordinators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, Parole and Probation, law enforcement and mental health/social service/treatment professionals. All work together to help participants recover, live crime-free and become productive citizens.  Thirteen participants are in the MAT program that is expected to eventually have 30 participants. Court sessions began in December 2018 and are held every other Friday at 9:30 a.m.

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To aid those who represent themselves in court and improve access to justice, the Eighth Judicial District Court offers 23 Guide and File forms at the Legal Aid Self-help Centers at the Regional Justice Center, at family court, or to  those with Internet access.  The system guides self represented or pro per litigants through the completion of  legal forms with focused questions. Completed forms can then be filed at the courthouse into the court case management system.

The civil and family law Legal Aid Self-Help Centers have introduced 23 guided interviews, with more being developed. The guided interviews ensure that litigants create clear and legible filings that meet all requirements. Those who work in the Legal Aid Self-Help Centers report that through the use of Guide and File, there has been a marked reduction in errors. Cutting errors when filings are initiated, saves users time and facilitates court processes. Prior to the implementation of Guide and File, court time was tied up addressing improper filings.

Thousands of interviews have been successfully completed including: Nevada protection orders against stalking or harassment, adult name changes,  District Court fee waivers,  complaints for divorce,  joint petitions for divorce (no kids),  joint petitions for divorce, petitions to disburse money, small claims complaints, summary eviction complaints,  tenant answer to summary evictions, custody complaints , divorce answers and counterclaims,  custody answers and counterclaims , unemployment judicial reviews step one petitions, petitions to order release of medical records, petitions for cremation, criminal record sealing requests and  small claims answers/counterclaims. In District Court user surveys, most report Guide and File as very easy or easy to use, with few respondents reporting the system as difficult or very difficult.

The following Guide and File forms/interviews are in use:

  1. Adult name change request
  2. District Court fee waiver
  3. Joint petition for divorce
  4. Complaint for Divorce
  5. Divorce Answer and Counterclaim
  6. Custody Complaint
  7. Custody Answer & Counterclaim
  8. Petition to disburse money from a minor’s blocked account
  9. Small claims complaint
  10. Tenant answer to summary eviction
  11. NV protection Order against stalking or harassment
  12. Collection of Judgment
  13. Summary Eviction Complaint
  14. Petition for Cremation
  15. Petition for Special Letters of Administration
  16. Petition to Open Safe Deposit Box
  17. Petition to Order release of Medical Records
  18. Unemployment Judicial Review –Start:  Which Interview is right?
  19. Unemployment Judicial review – Petition for Judicial Review
  20. Unemployment Judicial Review – Opening Brief
  21. Unemployment Judicial Review – Reply Brief
  22. Petition for Transfer of Property & Affidavit of Entitlement
  23. Small Claims Counterclaim

A citizen oriented approach is necessary to ensure access to justice for all. People are becoming more accustomed to, and in many cases, demanding of, do-it-yourself options; not only because they tend to be cheaper, but also because electronic filings offer more flexibility. From a cost, efficiency and user standpoint, Guide and File offers a solution to an issue that has challenged the courts.

The Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court Guide and File system made the list of the top-10 court technology solutions as named by the National Association for Court Management  and the 2018 Tyler Excellence Award.

 

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Nearly 80 fifth graders from Vanderberg Elementary School, quietly lined up on the first floor of the Regional Justice Center on April 23, as they waited excitedly to go to various courtrooms to watches judges go through their criminal calendars to status check cases, set dates and hand down sentences. The students, who were on their best behavior, were told to pay attention to all the work being done in the courtrooms and to consider this work as a future job for themselves. They were also told to observe each case and learn from them.

We’ve all heard the cliché crime doesn’t pay. The fifth graders from Vanderberg got a first-hand look at why the cliché is actually true, including those who visited District Court Judge Michael Villani’s courtroom to watch his felony criminal calendar proceedings. Judge Villani went through case after case, setting dates for further action and handing down sentences. Judge Villani asked a young man with a long prior record who was being sentenced for snatching a purse, “What can we do to get your attention?”  The young man tried to convince the judge that he had changed and had stayed out of trouble for a while. Judge Villani wasn’t convinced. He sentenced him to boot camp, a regimented program aimed at rehabilitating participants through education and life skills training, manual labor and extensive physical training. He was handcuffed and led off to a holding cell.

After the calendar session, the students watched as the defendants who had been sitting in the courtroom were led away in shackles to a holding area for transport back to the jail. On the way out, one of the defendants blurted, “Stay in school.”

In a question and answer session with the students, Judge Villani shared that he rather the young man who snatched the purse get help, not just punishment. He noted that what many of the defendants have in common is they don’t finish school and they get involved with drugs. Judge Villani said, “If you don’t finish high school, it’s hard to get a job.” He also advised the students that they will probably face peer pressure to do drugs. He warned of the downward spiral that results and is common to many who are convicted of crimes and end up in prison.

The school visit was part of the Project Real youth educational program. Project REAL, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was founded in 2005 by Sam Lionel and Irwin Molasky to meet the challenge of teaching kindergarten through 12th grade Nevada students the importance of the law. They have taught over 160,000 Nevada students about the importance of the law with the goal of preparing them to be informed, law-abiding and participating citizens through their programs including: Your Day in Court, Play By the Rules, REAL Drama, and Independence & You. For more information from Project REAL, please contact Program Director Mike Kamer at mkamer@projectrealnv.org, call 702.703.6529, or visit http://projectrealnv.org.

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Scarlett & Stephanie Bagunu

Hundreds of pinwheels will be planted at Family Court to symbolize hope for the more than 3,200 children in our community who face abuse and neglect, and are receiving services under the supervision of Family Court. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and a great time to  get involved with organizations that help promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families in our communities. The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program is hosting this event to raise awareness about the need for more CASA volunteers and as an uplifting reminder of the bright futures that all children deserve, especially the children in the foster care system.   Those who want to learn more about how they can get involved are invited to join the pinwheel planting at the Eighth Judicial District Family Court flagpole, 601 N. Pecos Road on April 12, at noon.

For those interested in volunteering with the CASA program, monthly orientations are held on the third Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m.at the Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Pkwy and  every second and fourth Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Child Haven, 701 N. Pecos Rd. The next CASA Orientation is Apr. 13 at 11:30 a.m.

 “Every child deserves to live in a safe environment. CASA’s are the eyes, ears and voice to help to ensure that right”, said Family Court Judge Frank Sullivan, who oversees the CASA program. “We would like to have a CASA for every child that is under the supervision of the court. CASA’s play a big role in the future of the kids for whom they advocate.”

The CASA program recruits, screens, trains and supports volunteers to represent the best interests of hundreds of foster children annually. The advocates represent the children in school, child and family team meetings, and in court. Volunteering for the program involves a two-year commitment and a willingness to spend quality time with the children to advocate for them. In 1980, Judge John Mendoza led the creation of the Clark County CASA Program. The CASA mission continues to be fully supported by family judges.

“As the number of children in foster care grows, CASA ‘s are needed now more than ever,” said Presiding Family Court Judge Bryce Duckworth. “CASA volunteers accomplish extraordinary  things and we truly appreciate and thank them for what they do for the children in our community.”

For more information about the program call 702-455-4306, visit www.casalasvegas.org or visit www.facebook.com/#!/CASALasVegas.

 

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A baby cries as Judge Carolyn Ellsworth begins the graduation ceremony for the March class of drug court graduates. The judge smiles and tells those gathered, “It’s great to have the babies here. It’s great that they’re here and come into the world drug-free.” After completing an intensive treatment program, the class of 13 drug court participants graduate to a productive new life. “I’m like your mom, only meaner,” jokes Judge Ellsworth, who presides over the drug court program with the mission to get those with substance abuse issues to stop revolving through the justice system.

Specialty courts use a therapeutic approach that targets and treats the root-causes of the addiction that fuels the crimes committed to feed the addiction. Not a graduation goes by that a graduate does say that the program saved their life. They praise the program but they know the road ahead will be filled with challenges. Judge Ellsworth tells her graduates, “I’m going to miss you. I really am.” She encourages them to keep her informed of their progress and asks them stop by. “I wish I could guarantee you that your lives after drug will be perfect after drug court,” said Judge Ellsworth. “But that would be a complete lie; life isn’t like that.” She reminds the grads that they’ve been given the tools to deal with adversity in a productive way. She encouraged them to stay on the path to a fulfilling life.

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