Soonhee “Sunny” Bailey came to Las Vegas to find help for her then-5-year-old violent, autistic daughter.
Bailey says she wants to be a judge to “make a difference” to the community that has made a difference for her family.
She also served briefly as the state’s acting Labor Commissioner, co-authored the Nevada Courtroom Handbook on Evidence, and served as a Hearing Master in Family Court, where she’s heard a variety of matters, including juvenile delinquency, discovery and minor guardianship.
“We have a huge volume of delinquency cases,” she says of her current assignment, adding she’s open to any docket she’s given by the Chief Judge. “Last year, I did all the juvenile sex offender cases, as well,”
With the pandemic has come increased reliance on teleconferences, which were never part of the juvenile delinquency system.
“It’s amazing,” Bailey says. “No longer do parents have to risk losing their job to come to court. They can take a break, pop in and go back to their lives. And it cuts down on attorneys fees because they aren’t charging for hours spent waiting.”
Providing mental health services to those in need via telehealth has been challenging, she says, as Medicaid funding has been slashed in response to the state’s budget crisis.
Bailey says the difference between her and opponent Michelle Tobler is experience.
“I actually practice in Family Court. I have 24 years experience,” she says. “She doesn’t practice family law.”
Bailey has raised $156,000 and has $8,486 remaining as of October 5.
Tobler is a civil litigator in private practice who says she’s recently focused on working as an arbitrator and a hearing officer.
“I’ve had people tell me for years I’d be a good judge,” she says.
Tobler occasionally works as an administrative hearing officer for the Department of Family Services on abuse and neglect cases, determining if an individual’s name will appear on the central registry of substantiated abuse and neglect. Inclusion in the database could preclude employment as a teacher or being a foster parent. Tobler says she’s “probably had five to 10 hearings a year. If the claims are substantiated, a review panel reviews my decision and the party has the ability to appeal.”
“Family Court appeals to me because it affects people on a personal level,” she says.
Tobler says she’s provided her services pro bono to the Children’s Advocacy Project and on custody matters.
She says she’s interested in improving services for the majority of Family Court litigants who represent themselves.
“So many people appear alone, without the advice of an attorney. As much as we can expand the services available to them,” she says, adding sometimes they don’t qualify financially. “They’re not on the low end but they can’t afford to pay for legal help.”
She’d also like to see more emphasis on settlements.
“I think it’s always best if people can figure it out on their own,” she says of settlement conferences, “where litigants are more in control of the process.”
“The majority of what happens in Family Court is civil (law). I’ve practiced exclusively civil for 24 years,” she says. “I have experience where I’m the one rendering the decision. And I have the right temperament. I’m reasonable. I’m calm in the face in conflicts.”
Tobler raised $13,249 and had $2,844 remaining as of October 15.