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Info about the Eighth Judicial District Court.

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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 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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On July 1, the new fiscal year begins. The new year brings a new chief judge and presiding judges at District Court.  Judge Linda Marie Bell was elected to replace outgoing Chief Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez.  The chief judge maintains responsibility for managing the administration of the court. Judge Bell will continue to hear specialty court cases during her tenure in the chief judge post. Judge Gonzalez will return to hearing civil, business and mental health court cases.

Judge Michael Villani will take over as the criminal presiding judge from Judge Doug Herndon. Judge Jerry Wiese will take on the post as the presiding civil court judge from Judge Susan Johnson.  Presiding judges manage the business of their respective division.

On her last day as chief, Judge Gonzalez sent out a thank you to court employees. “I wanted to express my gratitude to each of you to your hard work in making our Court more accessible to the community. We have worked as a team to improve our time to disposition and access to all of our community. The work we have done as a group is a testament to each of you. The courtesy and respect shown to those who appear in our court system is something of which I am very proud. Thanks again to all for your contributions to this success,” said Judge Gonzalez. “The court administration team worked tirelessly in support of our strategic goals. Those of you who work behind the scenes in administration and the clerk’s office keep the wheels of the organization moving, without even being seen. Although we do not see you on a daily basis, know that your work is appreciated.”

Judge Gonzalez closed her email with, “It has been my honor to serve as your Chief Judge. I wish Judge Bell and her leadership the best of luck in continuing to make improvements on access to justice and time to disposition.”

During her term as chief, Judge Gonzalez established a jury services committee and put into action a plan to add active voter registration names to the Court’s Jury Master List. Judge Gonzalez implemented improvements to how minor guardianship and involuntary commitments are handled. She spearheaded logical enhancements to business practices to maximize space and proximity to enhance interface at the court with a business pod and a guardianship/probate pod. Management for homicide cases was also centralized under her leadership to improve efficiency in the management and timely disposition of such cases.

“I want to extend sincere appreciation to Judge Gonzalez for her hard work and significant accomplishments as the chief judge,” said Judge Bell. “Not only did she maintain a heavy and complex caseload, she accomplished much for the court during her tenure as chief judge.”

“I also want to thank Judge Herndon and Judge Susan Johnson for their work in the role of presiding judge. Both the Civil and Criminal divisions have made impressive progress under their leadership,” said Judge Bell.

July 1 will also usher in docket changes, and courtroom/chamber moves. A summary of those changes can be found in this related story: Change is coming to District Court https://wp.me/p1tnuA-1tQ

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Six Eighth Judicial District Court employees were honored by the bench for going above and beyond in their work to keep things running effectively and efficiently at the court. Those honored include Tatyana Ristic who was named District Court Judicial Employee of the Year; Mark Vobis, named Deputy Marshal of the Year; Brian Hernandez, named District Court Judicial Marshal of the Year; Ronald Ramsey, named Judicial Marshal of the Year; Erica Page, named District Court Administrative Employee of the Year and Karen Christensen, named Clerk of the Court Employee of the Year. The ceremony was held at an all-judges meeting on June 13.

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Scamphoto

A new phone scam has surfaced that threatens to arrest victims for check fraud. A Clark County resident received a phone call from a very official sounding “Investigator Morgan” claiming to be with a generic sounding law office. The caller not only sounded official, but also knew the victim’s name, Social Security number, birthday and address. The scammer told the victim that there was a pre-trial docket set for him in Clark County Court for check fraud. The victim was told that he could stop the case immediately if he paid $1,096.

Although the victim had not used a check in years, he was frightened by the call. He held his ground though, got off the phone with the official sounding scammer and searched online to get insight. He called the court and his suspicions were verified. The call was a scam.

Different variations of this and other similar scams regularly surface in our community. Senior citizens are a favorite target of these scammers. The scam artists usually call unwitting victims and claim they have a warrant for their arrest or a warrant for a family member for skipping jury duty. They offer up a few details that appear to check out through a cursory Google search, such as the name of a judge or other official. Then the criminals get the victims to purchase a pre-paid credit card for hundreds of dollars to clear the warrant they claim they have. Within minutes, the scammers cash in on the cards and rip-off the worried victims.

Don’t fall for these scams and be aware that the court never calls on the phone to solicit money or personal information. Report the crime to law enforcement and spread the word to friends and family.

Top three things to know about warrant scams:

  1. The court never calls or e-mails people to get personal information such as their social security number. Those who receive these e-mails or call should not respond and are advised to contact the Attorney General’s office.
  2. A key red flag is the request for money. No official representatives of the court will call to solicit money for any purposes.
  3. Be wary of phone calls or emails that look like a jury summons and request important personal information, including: date of birth and social security and driver’s license numbers and threatens a fine or prison for failing to respond.

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Chronic absence correlated to high dropout rates has long been an issue in Nevada’s public schools. A recent report shows recent improvement in Clark County graduation rates. According to the Clark County School District (CCSD), one of the key programs to combat habitual absenteeism is the Truancy Diversion Program (TDP). As the school year winds down, it is a perfect time to recognize Truancy Diversion Program volunteers who commit to a school-year of weekly truancy diversion court sessions to keep kids in school and on track to graduate. The volunteer judges/mentors will be recognized on Friday, May 18 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Social Club Ballroom at Main Street Station 200 N. Main Street. The volunteers will be given an award and the opportunity to share their experiences of helping students attain an education. The TDP volunteers see first-hand how keeping a student in school can be the difference between failure and graduation; and between a path of crime and a path of success.

District Court Judge William Voy currently oversee the TDP that was established by Judge Gerald Hardcastle in 2002, and overseen by Judge Jennifer Elliott in collaboration with the Clark County School District (CCSD) for 10 years. “As a judge who hears juvenile cases, I see firsthand the importance of education and graduation. The Truancy Diversion program has proven to be an effective part of the strategy to keep students in school and on track to graduate. The volunteers are key to this much-needed program, and their work has done much to improve the path of many students,” said Judge Voy. “The Truancy Diversion Program not only benefits those students who are struggling to complete their education, but it benefits our community as a whole.”

In the 2016/2017 school-year, the TDP was in more than 80 CCSD elementary, middle schools and high schools. In the 2017/2018 school year, the TDP program plummeted to 40 participating schools, due to the ending of grant for the program from the Office of Juvenile Justice Department of Prevention Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court (OJJDP). Since the grant expired, funding has been an issue, since each school must use school funds to pay for the program.

Those without a high school diploma face higher prospects of unemployment and the associated negative consequences. This collaborative effort between the CCSD has been structured to prevent and reduce youth crime, re-engage students in learning, and ultimately, reduce potential costs to our welfare and justice systems. It is a non-punitive, incentive-based approach to at-risk school students with truancy problems. “Kids who successfully complete school have a much better chance at success in life than those who drop out,” said Presiding Family Court Judge Bryce Duckworth. “Truancy is often the first step off the path to success. The Truancy Diversion Program addresses the issue and keeps students in school and on track to graduate.”

Judges, attorneys, mental health professionals and law enforcement officers volunteer approximately three hours 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. They review the students’ attendance, school work, and progress to ensure that students have the resources they need to be successful. The goal of the Eighth Judicial District Court Family Division is to continue to expand until all Clark County schools have a TDP program.

Licensed attorneys, mental health professionals or law enforcement officers who are interested in volunteering as a TDP judge for this Specialty Court program should call 702-455-1755. The Family Court youth programs are a great example of how the Eighth Judicial District Court is using alternative, efficient methods to address crime and ensure justice. District Court continuously works to develop innovative ideas, improve efficiency, address issues and improve access to justice

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Goldilocks has landed in court several times on charges surrounding what appears to be her penchant for breaking into bears homes and stealing porridge. This time, a jury of her peers wasn’t charmed by her innocent smile or persuaded by her creative excuses. They found her guilty of trespassing and theft in a mock trial in Judge Linda Marquis’ courtroom at the Family Division of District Court. It was part of the Take Your Kids to Work Day events open to students who wanted to participate. Three junior judges sentenced the fairy-tale sweetheart to a one-month grounding with no electronic devices. Judge Marquis, the Public defenders Office, the District Attorney’s Office and attorneys took part in the mock trial to teach children about the justice system.

 

 

 

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NVSupremeCourtRuling1Oct

The Nevada Supreme Court issued a ruling today on the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department emergency motion for a stay, pending appeal, enforcement of the district court’s March 2 and March 9, 2018 orders that granted public records applications, requiring LVMPD to make public record information from 1 October available to the media. Below is a link to the Nevada Supreme Court ruling.

supreme court order1supreme court order

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