Heidi Almase worked her way through UNLV as a custodian for the Clark County School District. She was later a member of the charter class of UNLV’s Boyd School of Law. She’s been a clerk for the Nevada Supreme Court, a City of Las Vegas prosecutor, and worked with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office.
She was elected in 2011 to Las Vegas Municipal Court, where she presided over HOPE Court, an adult drug court for offenders who consistently ran into trouble as a result of homelessness, addiction, or both.
In 2015, “with generous financial assistance from the Las Vegas City Council,” according to her website, she created the city’s first mental health diversion program.
She lost her bid for re-election in 2017 and is currently a law clerk at Family Court.
“I think the difference between us is I have judicial experience,” she says of her race against attorney Jim Davis, adding she’s experienced at running a docket. “I’ve presided over hundreds of misdemeanor trials.”
“I’ve been an attorney longer. I’ve practiced civil, criminal and family law. There’s not a single day I don’t use my experience in all three areas,” she says. “All of those cases can affect your family court case.”
“I’ve been a single parent. I’ve been divorced,” she says, adding it was “very difficult on my daughter.”
Her ex “didn’t like the litigation in Family Court so he washed his hands of it,” she says. And of their daughter.
“I didn’t have an attorney. It seems like you’re swimming in dark waters. The waves keep crashing and you can’t catch a breath,” she says. “If we had a better parent coordinator, if the judge had earlier in the process appointed a therapist or parent coordinator, I wonder if it might have worked out better. The emotions were running high. People get entrenched.”
“I can see how it (a judicial ruling) impacts down the road. You can’t afford to have a bad day as a judge,” she says.
Almase has raised $53,249 had $1,406 remaining as of October 15.
Her opponent, Jim Davis has raised $70,240 and had $5,155 on hand as of October.
He says he’s running for Family Court because there are six new seats.
“I thought it might be an opportunity to do something new. I’ve been practicing family law for 15 years,” he says. “I decided when I saw the people who were actually going to run for Family Court have a wealth of inexperience. I just don’t think you go from no experience to the bench.”
“It’s not a fun place. I’m not sure if there are true winners or losers in the Family Court,” he says. “I’m able to help families resolve their differences, find closure and move on with their lives.”
“I feel for them,” Davis says of pro se litigants who make up about two-thirds of those appearing in Family Court. He says he’d ask to expand programs that give them guidance.
“The other thing I’d like to see happen is a lot of people don’t have access to computers,” he says. “It’s tough to even go to the library these days. If the courts could set up some satellite offices of the self-help center it would ease the barrier for people without access to computers.”
Davis says he would designate certain days or mornings for litigants representing themselves and spend more time making them aware of resources and what to expect in their case via a flow chart.
“Being in the military has taught me dedication to duty and dedication to the job,” says the 20-year veteran of the Air Force who made law his second career. “Be prepared. I’ve been in courtrooms where the judicial officer hasn’t even read the pleadings.”
He also promises to be punctual.
“It’s inexcusable to start court 45 minutes late. I’ve flown combat. If you’re a minute late or a minute early, sometimes the wrong people died.”