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eighthjdcourt

Info about the Eighth Judicial District Court.

Category Archives: Las Vegas Family Court

The Family Court caseload has a significant volume of propria persona (pro per) cases. That volume presents challenges. Steps have been taken to help those who represent themselves with resources through the Family Law Self-Help Center and website http://www.familylawselfhelpcenter.org.

The push is also on to get attorneys practicing family law to be prepared for their cases, so that those cases are moving along as they should be. At the recent Family Bench Bar meeting, some suggestions were given to help attorneys get up to speed with new rules regarding timeliness. A top tip given was: present filings in fundamental, easily understandable language and limit length. In other words, less is more. Clear and concise writing is better for everyone.

Marital balance sheets were suggested as a useful tool for complex cases with a lot of assets to make mediation/settlement easier. They were also suggested as useful for cases with fewer assets. It was recommended to have opposing counsel coordinate the reference numbers and sync up the assets and numbering of those assets. The marital Balance sheet discussed at the Bench Bar Meeting can be found at http://www.willicklawgroup.com/clark-county-bench-bar-committee

A trial practice Continuing Legal Education (CLE) session is being developed to help attorneys review trial preparation and discovery to facilitate adherence to the rules of the court.

Parenting Coordination training was also on the agenda. A 12-credit CLE is being offered Apr. 21.

There was good news at the meeting including: If Public access fees have been paid for the first three months of 2016, they no longer have to be paid until next year. Your concerns about parking at the Family Court Campus were heard and 60 parking spaces were freed up in the Family Court parking lot by moving county vehicle parking to the rear of the campus.

The Pro Bono Advisory Council volunteer of the month Emily McFarling, Esq. was recognized for her service.

The next family Bench Bar is scheduled for May 12 in Courtroom 9 at Family Court 601 N. Pecos Road. Bench Bar meetings are a great way to learn about changes at the court and to address issues with the bench.

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Those visiting the Family Division of District Court are often there at the worst time of their life. Divorce, custody of children and guardianships are just a few of the contentious matters that are handled there. So, it’s no surprise that people lose their cool and get emotional during proceedings. Judges do their best to guide litigants through the process in a smooth manner, but it’s a constant challenge that is seen in courts across the nation; so much so, that it has been a

focus in judicial colleges. That’s why the Family bench issued a recent resolution to spell out civility in court with the aim to improve courtroom courtesy.

The following rules of professional cooperation shall be enforced in every courtroom in the

Family Division:

  1. Attorneys and litigants shall, at all times, demonstrate respect for the opposing attorney, litigant and the court
  2. Attorneys and litigants shall be adequately prepared for each court appearance
  3. Attorneys and litigants shall permit the opposing party to present their arguments without interruption (no objections during argument)
  4. Attorneys and litigants shall refrain from excessively repeating facts or arguments
  5. Attorneys and litigants shall refrain from personal attacks on the opposing attorney or litigant
  6. Attorneys and litigants shall address all comments to the Judge and not the opposing attorney or litigant
  7. Attorneys and litigants shall maintain control over their emotions

“The resolution spells out the rules as a reminder to all parties that courtesy and preparation are essential to smooth and efficient court operations.” said the civil Presiding Family Division Judge Charles Hoskin. “It points out that candor, courtesy and cooperation facilitate faster, less costly and mutually accepted resolution of disputes; reduce stress for lawyers, staff and clients; reduce waste of judicial time; and generate respect for the court system, the individual attorney and the profession as a whole.”

Preparation for Family matters has been helped by improvements at the Family Law Self-Help Center located right on the Family Division Campus at 601 N. Pecos Road and the Family law self Help website

familylawselfhelpcenter.org/. Those looking to represent themselves in Family Court  cases, can access a new website that offers how-to tips, forms and info on going solo in court. Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada has launched the new site at  http://www.familylawselfhelpcenter.org/ for the Family Law Self-Help Center. The non-profit Legal Aid Center operates the Self-Help Center at Family Court in cooperation with the Eighth Judicial District Court. The new website provides easy access to many of the forms and resources available at the Self-Help Center.

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Newly Minted CASA Volunteers

New CASA volunteers were sworn in this week. More volunteers are needed (especially men) to give children in foster care a voice. Past volunteers shared how rewarding the experience can be. For more information about the program please call 702-455-4306, visit http://www.casalasvegas.org or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/CASALasVegas.

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There are so many young people in our community who need someone to speak up for them, they need an advocate.  It can be tough enough to navigate going to school and making the grade when all is well in life.  Unfortunately, so many kids in our community have no great role models or people who care.  Through no fault of their own, there is no real family to serve as role model, caretaker or anything else. There are thousands of kids in foster care who have been through a lot and have been shuffled around, a lot. You can help. You can volunteer to be a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA for short).  Family Court is preparing to swear in around 20 graduates of the advocate training program this month; but it is not nearly enough volunteers to cover the more than 2000 foster kids in our community.  More people are needed to advocate for them in school and other areas.  CASA volunteers are really making a difference, really helping young people stay on track and accomplish goals. For those interested in volunteering with CASA, monthly orientations are held on the third Wednesday of each month to provide more information about the program. Upcoming CASA orientations will be held at the Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Pkwy. For more information about the program please call 702-455-4306, visit www.casalasvegas.org or Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/CASALasVegas.

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Trial by Peers Graduation

Proud parents, family members and friend snapped photos as 30 students from Clark County ranging from ages 12 to 17 years old graduated from the Clark County Law Foundation’s Trial By Peers (TBP) Program Peer Counselor Summer Course. Judge Frank Sullivan was the master of ceremonies .

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Truancy Diversion Program To Kickoff September 16 For New School Year To Keep Students In School And On Track for Success

The Family Court Truancy Diversion Project (TDP) is holding their new school year kickoff on September 16 at 12:15 p.m. at Family Court, 601 N. Pecos in Courtroom 9. The program is offering great opportunity for attorneys and law clerks to make a difference in the community by serving as judges for the Truancy Court Diversion Project (TDP). This early intervention program is aimed at keeping truant students in school and on the path to success.

Truant youth are more likely to drop out of school. In Clark County around 60,000 children are truant during the school year. Nevada’s dropout rate is reported to be the highest in the nation. Everyday in Family Court, judges see first-hand the fallout from truancy and its negative consequences. Teen pregnancy, high unemployment and the likelihood of falling into the criminal justice system are all linked to truancy and school dropout.

The goal of the TDP is to reduce the number of students entering the formal juvenile justice system as a result of skipping school. Truancy is often a symptom of greater need within the family. The truancy program strategy includes identifying and addressing a variety of family issues including substance abuse or lack of basic necessities such as food, clothing, and housing. The program also promotes improvement in academic achievement and attempts to reduce student behavioral problems.

“The Truancy Diversion Program doesn’t just benefit these students but it benefits our community as a whole. Higher graduation rates lead to a stronger more employable community,” said District Court Judge Jennifer Elliott. “Volunteering to serve as a judge in the Truancy Court Diversion Project is worthwhile work. Our young students gain so much from the guidance provided by the volunteers in this program.”

The TDP judges wear robes and preside during the diversion program on school property. Sessions usually begin at about 7:30 a.m. once a week for two to three hours. The judge meets with the student, family and advocates to address issues, monitor progress, make recommendations and reward positive behavior.

Attorneys or law clerks interested in volunteering should contact Debbie Rose at 455-1755 or e-mail rosed@clarkcountycourts.us. For more information about the Truancy Court Diversion Project visit http://www.clarkcountycourts.us/ejdc/programs-and-services/TDP/index.html for more information about the courts please visit our website at http://www.clarkcountycourts.us.

The Truancy Diversion Program demonstrates how the Eighth Judicial District Court is working to strengthen the community. District Court continuously works to develop innovative ideas, improve efficiencies, address issues and improve access to justice. For more information about the courts, please visit our website at clarkcountycourts.us.

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The Family Court Judges are implementing a 12-point plan that will meet the Eighth Judicial District Court goal of achieving timely permanency for children in the foster care system. That plan includes taking one Judge who hears a domestic caseload and assigning that judge to an abuse and neglect caseload. Now three judges hear abuse and neglect calendars fulltime. The departments that handle domestic cases are shouldering an average six percent heavier caseload to provide dedicated judges for foster care cases.

Late last year, Chief Judge Jennifer P. Togliatti issued an administrative order which established a special committee to examine access to justice in the dependency court by looking at court rules, court case management, case assignment, whether case processing delays are related to hearing master resources and duties as defined in EDCR 1.46, timeliness of trials and hearings, judicial resources, statistics and their definitions, statutory timeliness, trial stacks and other related matters. After a three-month review of the court’s approach to permanency for children and their families, the committee submitted a comprehensive report with 12 recommendations. Most critical was the examination of case assignment and judicial resources. The committee exhaustively reviewed the number and types of hearings in 2012.

The committee sought input from community partners. Three main issues were identified: the lack of use of bench cards for consistency; barriers to notification of appointment of counsel; and the slow, outdated method of sharing discovery (which contributed to frequent requests for continuances). The committee took immediate action and addressed barriers to information sharing for dependency cases. 

 The caseload and case assignment of juvenile dependency matters were examined. The protective custody hearing was noted as an extremely important hearing. It was determined that protective custody hearings associated with foster care, should only be heard by the dependency judges and one hearing master should be assigned to one judge. The judge should assign certain hearings to their designated masters to facilitate the case management of the case.

Several case processing delays were identified, the two most prominent: appointment of counsel and delay in receiving discovery. Case processing was re-engineered to use automation whenever possible. 

One of the critical issues facing this committee was the development of accurate statistics so they could make sound recommendations. The Eighth Judicial District Court Information Technology Division provided accurate, verifiable statistics. In addition, the IT division created a caseload report to assist in measuring statutory timelines. Scanners were installed in all the dependency courtrooms. Other new procedures were implemented including: preliminary protective hearing initiating process, case plan procedures, reasonable efforts procedures, and case initiation from petition procedures. These changes enable the tracking of timeliness.  “The Family Court judges have  unanimously agreed and rallied together to make this 12-point plan work to help children who need a stable, loving and permanent home, said Presiding Family Court Judge Gloria O’ Malley. “Streamlining case processing will improve outcomes for some of our community’s most vulnerable children and the case reassignment will enable the “one family – one judge” model for juvenile dependency cases.

“I would like to acknowledge the outstanding work accomplished by the committee chaired by Judge Arthur Ritchie and included Justice Nancy Saitta, Judge Charles Hoskin, Judge Frank Sullivan, Judge Robert Teuton, court executive officer Steve Grierson; assistant county manager Jeff Wells and the executive director of Legal Aid of Southern Nevada Barbara Buckley,” said Chief Judge Togliatti. “I would also like to acknowledge the cooperative spirit demonstrated by the Family Court Judges who worked together in order to make the needed case reassignment work.”

 

The foster care improvement demonstrates how the Eighth Judicial District Court is using technology and alternative, more efficient methods to improve the delivery of justice. District Court continuously works to develop innovative ideas, improve efficiencies, address issues and improve access to justice. For more information about the courts, please visit our website at clarkcountycourts.us.

 

 

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