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eighthjdcourt

Info about the Eighth Judicial District Court.

Tag Archives: Judge Linda Marie Bell

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Graduation from the Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court felony DUI (FDUI) program comes with a certificate, a supportive hug, a lifeline to resources and a whole new lease on life. After three to five years of rigorous treatment, participants get the tools they need to control their life, beat their addiction, act responsibly and leave DUI’s in the dust. The felony DUI program is using one-year grant of $30,000 awarded in late 2019 by the Nevada Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety to increase program retention rates, up success rates and improve public safety.  In 2019, 112 graduates successfully completed the program. So far in 2020, five have graduated with seven participants scheduled to graduate on Feb. 14 at a 3 p.m. ceremony in the jury services room.

As part of the 2019 grant application process, the Office of Traffic Safety looked at the success of the  Felony DUI program. Of those admitted to the FDUI program from Jan.  2015 to Jan. 2018, 72 percent completed the three to five year program. The Felony DUI program involves intensive treatment, counselling, random urine analysis and weekly support meetings. Participants in the program have three DUI’s (with no resulting injured parties) within seven years. They are on probation during the entire program and serve a minimum six months under house-arrest. All participants are required to have a breath interlock device on any vehicle they own, operate or have access to  during the entire time they are in the program.

“This Nevada Department of Public Safety  grant will enable District Court to add needed resources to successfully manage the significant Felony DUI Court caseload,” said District Court Chief Judge Linda Marie Bell. “Intensive treatment over time provides those with a history of DUI’s the tools to address their addiction issues. Ultimately, this makes our community safer.”

FDUI program currently has 326 participants in the program. The court coordinator is responsible for intensive clinical case management. They communicate with all collaborative partners, gather information on how participants are doing in therapy. They also problem solve issues, facilitate successes for clients and make clinical recommendations to the judge on treatment.

“I see firsthand how this program helps participants take responsibility for their actions and change,” said Hearing Master Shannon Wittenberger, who presides over the Felony DUI Court. “This funding gives us the ability to add much needed resources to improve success rates and be more effective at treating those in the program.”

The Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court specialty courts are an effective way to address root-causes that lead to addiction and recidivism. Intensive treatment has proven to be a cost effective way to keep participants in specialty courts from revolving through the justice system. The Nevada Eighth Judicial District specialty courts include veterans court, mental health court, the OPEN program, drug court, felony DUI court, gambling treatment diversion court, family treatment drug court, juvenile drug court and a youth autism court.

 

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“The 8th JDC is operating a coordinated family division model at a scale that places it in a league of its own based on the breadth of case types it oversees,” reports the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges after an eight-month evaluation of the Eighth Judicial District Court Family Division. “Many challenges exist but NCJJ also documented a parade of strengths that other jurisdictions could benefit from emulating.” 

The independent evaluation was significant, with site-specific findings and recommendations for the Eighth Judicial District Court that include:

  • “The 8th JD Family Division is a progressive jurisdiction with regard to the use of administrative data systems and technology. They are enabling the generation of judicial orders in the courtroom, implementing 1J/1F case assignment, online dispute resolution and online TPO filing and strategies to enable judges/judicial teams to compose court orders for routine hearings and distribute at the conclusion of the hearing. It is the first jurisdiction that NCJJ has encountered with the capacity to use its data systems and information technology capacity to explore the inter-relationships of cases for families with multiple legal matters presented to the court over time. We view this strength as critical for operating Nevada’s coordinated family division model in a large, rapidly growing jurisdiction.”
  • “The commitment to provide non-adversarial procedures for family case resolution is strong in the 8th JDC, with a vision to meet the needs of families that are increasingly comfortable with online applications and dispute resolution tools.”
  • “The 8th JDC Family Division is exceptionally busy and operating at a lean staffing level when compared to other comparably sized jurisdictions such as family courts serving Kings County (Brooklyn) and Queens County in New York City, which have up to twice the overall judicial offer resource to hear similar range of case types. Nonetheless, the court’s leadership over the past five years is addressing the points of greatest stress. Sometimes the efforts are locally driven and other times they are in coordination with the Supreme Court of Nevada.”
  • “The pressures of an antiquated facility footprint designed for a jurisdiction half its current size is undeniable for Clark County. Family division administration is focused on extending the facility life and addressing safety concerns, while addressing the space allocation for self-represented parties and temporary protective order triage. During interviews, there were many critics and legitimate concerns, but the NCJJ team left with the impression that the court administration is focused on solutions until a long-term decision is made.”

“This assessment confirms that the Family Division is doing great work and implementing innovative programs that provide for the effective and efficient administration of justice,” said Presiding Family Division Judge Bryce Duckworth. “The assessment acknowledges that our Family Division is exceptionally busy and operating at ‘a lean staffing level when compared to other comparatively sized jurisdictions’ and notes that the Court’s leadership is ‘addressing the points of greatest stress.’ We should be proud of the work that is performed in the Family Division of the Eighth Judicial District Court. Nevertheless, we welcome the constructive feedback offered in the assessment and recognize the need to continue to look for ways to improve the services that we offer families in our community. We look forward to addressing the challenges identified in the full report and the site-specific findings and recommendations.”

Beginning in the mid-1980s, Nevada policy makers had a vision for addressing the needs of families in court in a coordinated manner. After a referendum on an amendment to the state Constitution, an ambitious coordinated family division model in judicial districts serving populations over 100, 000 people was implemented. The goal of the recent independent evaluation, conducted between January and August of this year in Clark and Washoe counties, was to determine if family court was meeting expectations of families and lawmakers, following state and local courts rules, and resolving legal disputes timely and effectively. Research was done through phone interviews, electronic surveys, and site visits.  To download the full report, visit https://nvcourts.link/FamilyDivisionAssessment.  According to the report, “There is a commitment to make sure that the case of the most vulnerable especially children are a priority for resource allocations.”

“The findings from this independent evaluation demonstrate that despite population increase and tremendous caseload growth that have stressed resources, through strategic evaluation, planning, work, commitment and effective use of technology the Eighth Judicial District Family Division has made great progress and is viewed as model for other courts. The study also makes apparent  there is a crucial  need to upgrade facilities to maintain adequate service to the public,” said Chief Judge Linda Marie Bell. “I applaud the work that has been accomplished by judges and staff to ensure that the community is being served in an effective and efficient manner that is in the best interests of families, especially given the less than optimum facilities and short staffing.”

The study was conducted over eight months by the research division of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The study’s purpose was to identify the high-level areas in which the coordinated family division operating models for juvenile and family law are meeting legislative goals.

The NCJJ study affirms that Nevada has a unique and ambitious vision for how courts should work for families in crisis. Nevada’s coordinated family division model brought together over 20 different case types in the juvenile and family law areas under one roof. The charge is to coordinate everything from divorces and child custody and child support, through child abuse and neglect matters and delinquency, to adult and juvenile guardianships, name changes and involuntary mental health commitment hearings.

The National Center for Juvenile Justice, located in Pittsburgh, Penn., is the oldest juvenile justice research group in the U.S., having conducted national and sub-national studies on crime and delinquency since 1973.

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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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The Hon. Linda Marie Bell, Hon. Stewart L. Bell (Ret.) and Constance Akridge, Esq. are the recipients of the Clark County Law Foundation 2019 Liberty Bell Award. The recipients will be honored on Saturday, April 27, 11 a.m., at the Historic Fifth Street School Auditorium, 401 S. 4th St.

The annual award recognizes individuals in the community who uphold the rule of law, contribute to good government within the community, stimulate a sense of civic responsibility, and encourage respect for the law in the courts.

Judge Linda Bell serves as the chief judge for the Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court. Since taking the bench in January of 2009, Judge Bell handled both civil and criminal cases. She spent two and a half years managing all of the criminal division specialty courts and continues to preside over the veterans’ treatment court. Judge Bell has been a driving force in the proliferation of specialty courts, which have had a significant positive impact in the community.

Judge Bell also ran the grand jury for six years; served on the court’s legislative committee every legislative session since 2009, where she worked on successful efforts to pass legislation related to the grand jury, the OPEN program, funding for specialty courts and outpatient civil commitment.

In addition to serving on numerous legal associations, boards and educational committees for various organizations, she has taught both criminal law and criminal procedure at UNLV. She served as the president of the Howard D. McKibben Chapter of the Nevada Inn of Court from May 2012 to May 2014. Judge Bell volunteered for the Trial by Peers youth legal educational program, and was named their Judge of the Year in 2011.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Judge Linda Bell follows in the footsteps of her father Judge Stewart Bell (Ret.), who will also be awarded a Liberty Bell. He was elected to the Eighth Judicial District Court of Clark County, Department 7 in November 2002 and was sworn in as a district court judge in January 2003. Before becoming a judge, he served as Clark County District Attorney from 1995 to 2002. As a practicing attorney and jurist he has presided over hundreds of jury trials and is well regarded by counsel for his sharp analytical skills, knowledge of the law, and fair-mindedness.

Constance Akridge, Esq., a partner with Holland and Hart was also selected for a 2019 Liberty Bell.

The Clark County Law Foundation mission is to empower Nevada, especially our youth, through service to the community and education about the legal system and its history.

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Regional Justice Center at 200 Lewis Ave.

A delegation from Mexico including investigators, prosecutors and forensic experts will visit the Eighth Judicial District Court in the Regional Justice Center at 200 Lewis Ave. on March 14 from 9 a.m. until noon to observe an oral, adversarial system of justice in action. The delegation comes from state attorney general offices throughout Mexico including: Querétaro, Nuevo León, Durango and Jalisco. They are here for the week in coordination with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office and the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG).

Mexico has been transitioning to an oral, adversarial system of justice for a few years. They are here to learn best practices as they make the transition.

District Court frequently serves as host to delegations from around the world looking to learn best practices and get ideas for new technology. “We welcome the delegation of justice professionals from Mexico to our court,” said Chief Judge Linda Marie Bell. “It is a real tribute to our legal professionals who are asked time and again to showcase their professional expertise and advancements with delegations from around the globe.”

 

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The Nevada Eighth Judicial District court launched the first gambling treatment diversion court (GTDC) in Nevada. Judge Cheryl Moss was appointed by Chief Judge Linda Marie Bell to preside over the gambling diversion court. The GTDC will use the best practices already in place in Clark County’s other specialty courts including: veterans court, mental health court, the OPEN program, drug court, felony DUI court, family treatment drug court,  juvenile drug court and autism court.

Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 458A was amended in 2009 to permit a defendant to enter a gambling diversion treatment program if a criminal judge deems they are eligible in lieu of incarceration. “Nevada is a world leader in gaming, so it makes perfect sense that our state lead the way when it comes to gambling treatment diversion,” said Judge Bell. “Our specialty courts have had great success rehabilitating specialty court participants and getting them onto a productive path. I believe the time is appropriate to use the proven tools of our specialty courts for a gambling treatment diversion court.”

The gambling treatment diversion court is the first of its kind in the state and the second in the nation. The first gambling court in the nation was established in Amherst, New York by now retired Judge Mark Farrell. Judge Moss will be the first judge to preside over the Nevada gambling treatment diversion court. “I’m looking forward to taking the proven strategies of our specialty courts and applying them to those who are in the justice system as a result of their gambling addiction,” said Judge Moss. “The gambling treatment court is a natural for this community and it is truly needed.” Judge Moss has an extensive background in problem gambling having lectured nationally and locally on issues related to problem gambling and the courts. She also authored a Law Review article on gambling diversion court programs across the U.S.

The Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court specialty courts are an effective way to address root-causes that lead to recidivism. 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 Eighth Judicial District Specialty Courts have been awarded a grant of $1million from the Substance Abuse Prevention Treatment Agency (SAPTA) to provide sober living and residential treatment placements for individuals in the Clark County Detention Center (CCDC). The SAPTA Grant provides funding for sober living facilities and residential bed infrastructure in Clark County to reduce the average number of days jailed drug court candidates spend waiting for residential placement. Drug court participants have significantly higher rates of success in programs that offer a continuum of care for substance abuse treatment with residential treatment and sober living. That success reduces the burdens on the jail, the justice system and the community as a whole.

In FY 2018, 111 participants were provided residential treatment and 189 were provided supportive sober living, with 162 participants obtaining employment.

In compliance with the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) recommended adult drug court practices, individuals in need of substance abuse treatment should not be incarcerated to achieve clinical or social service objectives. Clark County has a growing need for sufficient sober living and residential placement facilities for inpatient substance abuse treatment. As a result, individuals remain in jail awaiting substance abuse treatment. The District Court estimates the annual fiscal savings that will result to Clark County at more than $4 million in averted incarceration and associated criminal justice costs.

“I am grateful to receive this grant money to provide sober living and residential treatment placements for specialty court participants,” said Chief Judge Linda Marie Bell. “This funding greatly improves the chances of success for those who are provided placements, reduces the critically overcrowded jail population, and saves millions of dollars in avoided incarceration costs.”

Specialty courts solve issues through a rigorous and coordinated approach between judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, Parole and Probation, law enforcement, court program coordinators and mental health/social service/treatment professionals. All work together to help participants recover, live crime-free and become productive citizens. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals reports: “nationwide, 75 percent of drug court graduates remain arrest-free at least two years after leaving the program. Drug courts reduce crime as much as 35 percent more than other sentencing options.”

 

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