Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Job Tips: Judicial Aspirations

A reader wants to know what advice you have for an attorney with judicial aspirations. With 5 years of experience, she is eligible to run for justice court, but wants to know if she should hold off until she is eligible for district court. Should she get involved with community organizations? Does she absolutely need to hire one of the campaign advisors who everyone else hires? Any special considerations she should be taking?

41 comments:

  1. First ask yourself "Why do I want to run?" At five years out, it hardly seems like you are in a position to impart your wisdom and give back to the community.  It sounds more like you want a cush job sucking at the government teet, as well as prestige and free bar trips.  A good rule of thumb is: If you are going to make more as a judge than you do now, then you are not ready.

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    1. I would agree 100%. Just because you have the minimum time in does not make it a good idea. If Justice Court is where you want to be, get a few more years in or you will not be taken as a serious candidate and will not get the necessary endorsements to stand a good shot getting in.

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    2. Counterpoint. Stupid people get old too. Bad attorneys come from each age group equally. If your want to be a Judge, talk to a campaign consultant and see what he or she thinks. Turns out they are the experts on what it takes to get elected, not a bunch of attorneys who don't know anything about running for elected office.

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    3. 5 years is too soon. See Amber Candelaria and the definition of "5". Ten years for Justice Court. Fifteen for District Court. Yes there are exceptions to the rules (See Tierra Jones) but those are generally appointments and not elections.

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    4. Voters don't care about and can't evaluate experience. Talk to a campaign consultant. Enter a race with many candidates so you only need a small plurality to in, then target a big enough group of niche voters. Judicial elections are about winning campaigns, not judicial skills.

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  2. Having only worked as an attorney for 5 years, why does she want to leave the practice so soon? Once on the bench, your work life completely changes, and in most circumstances, you become an island. Your skills as a practitioner diminish, especially if you sit as JP or Muni Court Judge. I think most judges, especially at the justice court or municipal court level, realize that they are doing it for the benefits and paycheck. The reader would be better off building up a practice that she enjoys for 20 years or so and then think about running for a judgeship as a way to end her legal career.

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  3. I clerked before going into private practice. I am definitely in no rush to going back to the otherside of the bench. The grass is not greener on the otherside, although there are perks

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  4. If she's attractive and outgoing there's no reason not to go for it. Big paycheck, low hours. Retain one of the big two judge makers and get to work now. Go to every event and suck every (figurative) d!#k you can find.

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    1. Thanks, Stefany

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    2. I was actually thinking of Abbison Silverado, a purely fictional character I just created, a ruthless ladder climber who prospers based purely on her manipulative personality, in the absence of any evidence of competence.

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    3. Hey, I remember Abbison, doesn't she belong to the same Palm Beach clubs as Anastasia Beaverhausen?????

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    4. Abbison also had aspirations of District Attorney. Abbison also comes from a well-heeled family. So unless your father is Sheldon Adelson, Tom Letizia, Billy Vassiliadis or Dave Thomas, no you should not follow Abbison's footsteps.

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  5. Matters to consider before the young woman runs for J.P.:

    1. As one blogger pointed out, if she's attractive and looks good on signage, that helps a lot. That is really a shame because competence and experience should carry the day, but this is the real world.

    2. As another poster said, she needs to hire The Judge Maker or someone of similar ilk.

    3. Needs to have a lot of support from attorneys and power shakers in the community, significant fund-raising sources, the endorsements from key organizations, etc.If she does not yet have a lot of that already accomplished, she needs to start joining , and getting involved with, prominent community groups that control voter blocks and can assist her with endorsements, etc. If she doesn't have time to accomplish all this prior to signing up for election, hiring The Judge Maker is a short-cut method to some of these endorsements and even some fund raising sources.
    Ideally, she should spend a few years getting involved with such organizations, and becoming better known in the community, and making good connections to people and groups that can endorse her and/or help her financially. But if she is in a big hurry, she can hire the Judge maker, and he can accomplish some of this for her.

    4.But since she seems in a hurry to run, a lot of these connections and fund raising sources won't be there for her yet, and The Judge Maker cannot create them all for her. So, if she is running at this time she needs to seed her campaign with $100,000(or better yet $150,000.)of her own money. But it does not appear she is yet in a position to do so. So, unless she had the fund raising ability and connections of, let's say, Cara Campbell(and she apparently does not), she should take the advice, wait a few years, and work hard on making connections, getting involved with groups that can help her, etc.

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  6. Running for Judge is like hitting the lottery. Most unsuccessful. Having run and watched others, I can only say this. Be careful what you wish for. It is a lot harder than you can imagine and can cause problems with your practice and career. There is push back from others. You really have to commit to everything--social, political and financial. There are many stories of folks who have tried and even spent close to $200K and did not make it. Keep that in mind. Just because you got elected does not mean you will retain your seat. We just had an example of that. This sounds like a post from a person who is very naive and will get knocked out in a primary.

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    1. 11:51 here again. I don't think the post is naïve because I stressed most of what you mentioned--that she likely needs to work a few years to make proper connections, and have six figures set aside from her own funds to seed to campaign.

      And when I say that an attractive, female visage on a sign goes a long way, that is not some naïve, frivolous observation. It is the hard truth. Your remarks essentially support that point.

      For example, the more experienced and more solid attorney, usually does not win. For example, a middle-aged male attorney who has practiced for over 20 years and is recognized by other attorneys as a solid practitioner, but who has been so busy earning a living and enhancing his legal reputation that he has not taken time to make political connections, is likely to lose a JP election to a young, attractive female practitioner who has only practiced five or so years, but has spent time making political connections and getting involved with organizations, and who has extensive signage with her attractive visage.

      Recent history shows she is far more likely to win. You may think it's naïve for me to make such observation, but that is simply fact. The better, more experienced attorneys do not win judicial elections. The more politically connected attorneys win the elections.

      But, as you suggest, sometimes it plays out in an even less rational manner than that, and it is totally arbitrary. For example, on a crowded primary ballot, sometimes the first person listed wins, or the candidate with the name that is easiest to pronounce, or if it is one female listed among several male candidates, the female usually comes in first.

      My friend, you perhaps need to read a little more closely, since you have an apparent habit of attacking those you are essentially agreeing with. Please re-read my post. It tracks the same realities and flaws in the process that you reference. So, if I am naïve, then you are as well since we recognize several of the same unfortunate dynamics.

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    2. Wow a lot of assumptions here.

      1) More experienced and solid attorney does not win. Ask Jim Crockett? Mark Denton? Ron Israel? Gloria Sturman? Betsy Gonzalez? Shall I go on...

      2) Pretty face far more likely to win? If you look at the pictures of our judges, most are not model like. Judge Miley was an exception.

      3) Pretty signs don't vote. First on the ballot is good for two or three per cent. Name recognition helps win elections. Money is a large factor. Expensive TV commercials. Endorsements.

      None of these were mentioned by 12:17 PM..

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    3. But if you look at JP races, and some Family Court races, this dynamic of female candidates with attractive signage, does have some legitimacy.

      Plus you are also making some assumptions. You mentioned some skilled judges, but some of them are females. The attractiveness of a female candidate's visage on massive signage is a factor I mentioned when they are running against male candidates, not so much when they are running against another female. Also, as to the male judges you have mentioned, you have not pointed to one of them, who when first elected, faced opposition by a female candidate with massive signage with a very attractive photograph.

      Pointing out a few situations where skilled attorneys became judges(and I agree that you mention some excellent judges who were excellent attorneys) does not change the fact that the majority of the time these races are not won by the better attorney.

      And the attractive female visage on signage is just one variation of this phenomenon. Often an excellent male candidate, who is an excellent attorney, is beaten by some juiced-in male candidate with much better political connections and much better name recognition.

      The broader point I was attempting to make is that in an ideal world the better attorney would win. But I think more than half the time the better attorney is beaten by the better politician.

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    4. Rather than debating all this, and arguing about who is more knowledgeable of the necessary factors to win, and who is supposedly more naïve, what the bloggers should recognize is that all these factors mentioned by all posters are not the types of factors that should be important.

      For example, when a blogger says that gender and attractive signage is not that big a factor, and that it is all about money, and someone else says that is all about name recognition, while someone else says it is about ballot placement, while others say it is who was effective at lobbying for the more coveted endorsements, all of that seems a bit off-putting and even somewhat unsavory.

      The bloggers disagree on what the most important factors are to get elected, but the factors mentioned by everyone are somewhat disturbing.

      But no cure for all that, except perhaps to convert to an appointment process. But, admittedly, that is a whole new can of worms and does not remove politics from the process. It just changes the types of political mechanizations that are at work.

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    5. Time has taken its toll on Judge Miley. Twenty years ago you could maybe have called her lawyer hot. Now, not so much.

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    6. You are as crazy as she is. She lost weight and looks good.

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    7. They’re Real and They’re Spectacular!

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    8. 3:35 wins post of the Day.

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  7. Las Vegas has a long and storied history of making judges from its least-qualified attorneys. The key is to get your name and face plastered on every chain link fence in the valley. If you're a cute blonde girl, even better. Don't let something like an absence of any real legal acumen discourage you, honey, you too can be a Las Vegas judge.

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    1. Michele Fiore would make an oustanding LV judge!

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    2. Cannot believe she was reelected.

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    3. She was not reelected. She won an open seated.

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  8. "A reader" is obviously Boyd '13 and therefore should go for it.

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  9. Interesting fact to point out: 11 of the 14 Las Vegas Justices of the Peace are women. Half of the Las Vegas Municipal Court judges are women. Only in the outlying courts (Henderson, NLV and BC) do men represent the majority or all of the judges.

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  10. I don't get into Justice Court very often. How is Harmony Letizia working out?

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    1. According to a couple criminal defense attorneys I know she is not as good for the defense as they had hoped for. But she hasn't blown up or cursed anyone out yet so she is doing better than a lot of other judges.

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  11. If you have any hope of being a judge...

    Practice out of an office NOT a P.O. Box
    Get some NV court experience (Not CA entertainment law experience)

    And of the utmost importance: Do not meet, associate with, befriend or hitch your wagon to anyone named Voldemort!!!

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  12. Maybe I stating the obvious but, if you want to be a judge, how about trying a case or two? Can anyone capably preside over a case without ever presenting one?

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    1. Most definitely. Trying cases and deciding cases are two completely different things. Did you know you don't even have to be a lawyer to be appointed to the Supreme Court?

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    2. https://www.supremecourt.gov/faq.aspx#faqgi2 there are no constitutionally qualifications for the supreme court and we had one justice who didn't even complete high school.

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  13. The best question to ask is who are you going to run against? Its great to hire the judge maker (who just lost two elections to Tom Letizia), but what if he already represents the sitting judge? BTW, Dave represents Dems over R's so that is a factor as well. And top spot on the ballot is good for 1.5 points if I remember correctly. Women also get a boost of 1-2 points.
    It's great to get involved and have connections, but if you're running against an incumbent you better damn well do your research. Most of them are where they are because they are connected, and absent a massive meltdown (Almase) or a criminal charge (Abbatangelo and Assad, well his son anyways), the odds are long you are going to win. Harmony won because she did her research, knew which JP was vulnerable, and is Tom Freakin Letizia's daughter. That usually doesn't happen. So know what you're getting into otherwise you'll become a perennial like Bruce Gale, Tony Liker, etc.
    Harmony has been doing quite well on the bench btw.

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  14. The real question is can you win a seat on the bench without doing the whole fundraising dance?

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  15. I was never interested in the bench. This post makes me even less interested.

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  16. Based upon the questions you ask, like should I get involved with the community or should I hire a campaign manager, you have no chance of winning.
    In fact, I wonder whether you should even be practicing law.

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