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Info about the Eighth Judicial District Court.

Monthly Archives: September 2018

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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 https://civiljuryproject.law.nyu.edu/9-5-18-las-vegas-jury-improvement-lunch. Lunches conducted…

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Schools across the U.S. have been quick to detain students who break rules, even if the infraction wasn’t a crime outside the school walls. Experts now believe that response leads to an escalation of negative behavior that frequently leads to criminal activity. It makes the circumstances worse rather than better. The cycle is part of what is known as “the school to prison pipeline.”

Educational and justice professionals gathered Sept. 21 at the Valley High School theater for the Keeping Kids in School Summit to gain insight on why and how to switch strategies with students who get in trouble at school. The idea of turning  students over to the justice system when they break rules such as truancy, is being replaced by a new premise of immediate intervention that addresses the root cause of the unacceptable behavior. Hearing Master Margaret Pickard who presides over juvenile cases told a room packed with educational professionals, “there are three reasons that we detain youth: the safety of the school, the safety of the youth, or the safety of the community.”

Those in attendance at the summit heard from experts on topics including: restorative justice, de-escalating conflict in school, legal rights of youth displaced from school, creating positive connections with students, charging youth for school related behavior, early childhood education. Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court Judge William Voy who presides over juvenile cases offered insight on a panel along with Nevada Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson, Dr. Tiffany Tyler, Dr. Tammy Malich and Clark County Department of Juvenile Justice Services Director Jack Martin.

Judge Voy has been a longtime advocate of restorative justice and keeping kids engaged in school to improve performance and improve graduation rates. He presides over the Truancy Diversion Program that does just that. Judges, attorneys, mental health professionals and law enforcement officers volunteer each week to hold truancy court sessions at schools. They promote and support academic achievement using a team effort and an individual student success plan with students and their parents. The volunteer judges review the students’ attendance, school work, and progress to ensure that students have the resources they need to be successful. The program is in about 40 Clark County schools. It was in twice as many schools before grant funding ran out. Now, schools have to pay $4,000 to have the TDP in their school to cover costs associated with the program.

The panel took questions from the audience. Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson told the audience to look up their legislator at leg.state.nv.us and to contact them on school issues. He also reminded everyone to ensure that their students have the Safe Voice app. Safe Voice also has a hotline and a website available 24/7.

Each of the panel members gave their closing thoughts.

https://youtu.be/kE5p7TMeb8Y

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 https://civiljuryproject.law.nyu.edu/9-5-18-las-vegas-jury-improvement-lunch. Lunches conducted in other cities can also be viewed on the site https://civiljuryproject.law.nyu.edu.

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:

https://civiljuryproject.law.nyu.edu/9-5-18-las-vegas-jury-improvement-lunch/

https://civiljuryproject.law.nyu.edu/

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0YQx8IZmSc&t=5s

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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 ScottS@clarkcountycourts.us.

 

 

 

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