Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Judicial Election Primer 2018- Las Vegas Justice Court Department 1- Graham v. Leavitt

The Las Vegas Justice Court Department 1 race features Elana Graham and James Dean Leavitt.

This is your opportunity to weigh in and let your fellow lawyers and community members know why they should pick one over the other. (A lot of people view these posts and it tends to show up near the top of Google search results, so make it count.) Please keep your comments informative and professional. This is not a thread for personal attacks, but rather a chance to explain why someone should be elected.

Who is your choice for this spot on the bench?

35 comments:

  1. IT'S JUSTICE COURT SO WHO CARES

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  2. The State Bar's website sucks. I'm sure they spent idiotic amounts of money on it too. I used to work in government, and govt entities get screwed virtually every time by tech companies they contract with to build websites or software, because the govt entities are either too small to have their own development staff, or they don't [pay enough to?] have anyone sufficiently competent and hard-assed to oversee the contractors and call bullshit on their shenanigans.

    Everyone and their dog wants to be a developer these days. Let's have the various govt entities do a partnership with the universities / community colleges and real tech businesses to do an internship building real software for government, getting real experience, and with real oversight from skilled developers from future employers. Win-win-win. And the taxpayers ought to get better software for far less.

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    1. Kim Farmer spent tens of thousands of dollars on this new website which is light years behind the old website, crashes more often and only a Luddite would love. In the years since the BoG realized that it had been hornswaggled, nothing has gotten better.

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  3. I think 8:46 is correct in that we need not have some beaming wizard in the positon. We need someone who has experience with the rote repetition of the basic procedure, some meaningful, proportionate sense to not over-react to misdemeanors and violations, while still recognizing when someone is not in good faith with the payment of the fines and fees assessed, etc.

    And it is also important to have an ability to move calendar, and also have a decent demeanor.

    And on the issue of demeanor, one must always remember it is a high volume, lower court, and not to hold it up and cause delays to calendar by indulging their ego with tough-on-crime diatribes and trying to prove how tough or pro-prosecution they are. And they also need to avoid the reverse, and not go overboard as the great advocate and protector of rights of the accused.

    If someone can do all that, even if they lack real legal heft, it will not be as nearly on display as it would be if they were on District Court.

    Whether I would want either of these two on District Court is another matter. But, if they both note the limits of the positon, keep the calendar moving while also providing sufficient time for attorneys to present, and they avoid the trap many have fallen into as to seeming to favor the prosecution or favoring the defendants, either of these two have the ability to do the job.

    Problem is, once people are elected to Justice Court, they don't recognize their limitations. Ego and upward mobility take over, and they often seek to advance to District Court. I'm not certain that I would feel overly comfortable with either of them in that positon at this point. He, in my estimation, does not truly have the intellectual firepower, and I'm not sure she would be ready for a civil calendar if she were assigned to one.

    But that never stops the-powers-that-be from dumping District Court civil calendar on career prosecutors, or from dumping criminal calendar on someone who while in practice exclusively handled civil litigation.

    Our District Courts, in a perhaps well-meaning but misguided attempt to make all the judges well-rounded, are notorious at matching new judges with a calendar that is the complete opposite of their skill set and training. But, I guess that's an issue for another day.

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  4. It seems many of the JPs are relying on pro tem judges a lot now. Who are your favorites among the pro tems? Is there a way to avoid them if they are bad?

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    1. Fake news. All the pro tems are great.

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    2. Ah, yeah. Michaela Wood, no.

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  5. I don't have much experience with the pro tems, so others can weigh in on that. However, I don't believe there is any practical way to avoid a certain pro tem, absent seeking to continue a matter.

    If you appear for a Justice Court hearing, and the matter is not being continued, I believe you are stuck with the pro tem. And in District Court, if you appear for a hearing and encounter a Senior Judge, you are stuck with him/her unless you succeed in having the hearing continued.

    And a peremptory challenge of a Senior Judge, even if possible(and there has been discussion on that), is usually problematic because you seldom have advance notice they will be sitting.

    And for a Justice Court Pro Tem, I don't believe there is any formal process to challenge the Pro Tem from presiding. But if there is a way, someone will weigh in and tell us.

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  6. Elana Graham gets my vote. I believe her to be honest, diligent, fair, and open to hearing both sides. She also has actual trial experience and as a JP, that is valuable experience that I don't believe her opponent has (his ads say he has had cases set for trial, but no indication that any of those ever went).

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  7. I would never brag about 25 jury trials in her short career, because it clearly shows she is not a very good negotiator.

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    1. As compared to bragging about lots and lots of calendar calls? For real: "Over 100 felony trials set for calendar call and successfully negotiated." Has he tried anything in district court?

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    2. Experience between the two is drastically different. No offense to ELG, but she needs to get a lot more years of life experiences under her belt. Leavitt served on The Board of Regents for 2 terms, and also led the efforts to establish UNLV medical school. What has ELG accomplished besides her 25 jury trials that none of the general public knows any of the details to? I am interested in someone with many life experiences sitting on a bench making very serious decisions. Sorry not interested in someone learning as they go.

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    3. Jury trial experience is actually helpful for a JP, since they have to preside over preliminary hearings and misdemeanor trials (which require a knowledge of the rules of evidence). It would appear that ELG (who has tried cases) would have the edge over JD in that regard.

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    4. I agree with 2:52. Leavitt's past experience would be relevant if he was running for office but he's trying to be a judge. Has he ever put on a preliminary hearing as a defense attorney? Not saying that criminal law is difficult to learn but it is the type of experience we should look for when selecting a JP.

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    5. Yeah lol at thinking being on the Board of Regents gives someone any experience relevant to being a judge.

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  8. Definitely Graham for me. She is a reasonable prosecutor (hard to find in this office), smart and her demeanor will be great. Leavitt seems a little quirky.

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  9. I am voting for Leavitt.

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  10. On the last three judge races discussed: My votes are Leavitt, Hothus, and Tao.

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    1. Disagree with the first and third. No opinion on the second.

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    2. Agree on the third. No Cadish for me.

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    3. I will take 3,2,2,2,1,1,1,3. .uk, a friend's joke, tv. I agree with the above poster:Leavitt and Tao have my votes. I have no idea who Elana Graham is.

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  11. They've collectively assembled $350,000 for this election. They are both qualified for the position. I have spent time with both. They are personable. 10:59 is right that he's quirky. Frankly, I am not impressed by either. I predict that she will win in blue Nevada, in the post-Kavanaugh environment.

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  12. I will not vote for any of them who use the cliché "firm, but fair" or "tough, but just", or any equally moronic variation, in any of their campaign material or ads.

    Judicial candidates who describe themselves that way simply use that as an excuse to act like an overbearing, ultra-punitive jerk once elected. They then rationalize such horrific judicial demeanor by proclaiming they "don't tolerate bullshit" and are "no nonsense."

    Also, anyone who rather than saying something meaningful about their judicial perspective, or how they will manage calendar and the like, instead resort to shilling for votes among the lowest common denominator by using the idiotic slogan "tough on crime", will also lose my vote and the votes of those who ask me for recommendations in the judicial races.

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    1. 2:13 -- Amen, brother or sister. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  13. To 2:13: Have any of the current slate of judicial candidates actually used any of these slogans to describe their vison and philosophy for the position?

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    1. I drive by a big billboard everyday that says that Elana Graham is the "overwhelming choice of law enforcement" or something to that effect. To me as a criminal defense lawyer at least, that is a very clear dog whistle about how she intends to operate as a judge.

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    2. I assume this is true since she is a prosecutor, but I also think this is something every judge needs to claim in elections because the public wants to know you will smash criminals from the bench.

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  14. "Firm but fair" may simply be a grossly over-used,innocuous and meaningless slogan, but "tough on crime" may go a bit beyond the realm of meaningless campaign slogans and clichés.

    In some cases it may telegraph that the candidate, if elected, intends to be a shill for the prosecution.

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  15. As 9:13 points out, both the JP candidates are qualified for that particular positon. Problem is once elected people have a tendency to think they are really great and should run for District Court.

    Neither, IMO, would be sufficiently qualified for District Court at this time, but for JP they should be fine. She may be a little more centered, predictable, and consistent in demeanor than him, but I may well be wrong with my impression.

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  16. They are both capable. I lean Leavitt just b/c ELG seems to be relying too much on here parents to get the job.

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    1. As someone who has been around this community for 25 years, I can firmly say that if ELG was more like her father, I would probably support her. But she is a Mini-Mama, and that is just frightening on the Bench.

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    2. What is a mini-mama?

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    3. Apparently a reference that the candidate is more like her mother, Elana Turner Graham, than her father, Ben Graham

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