Michele “Shell” Mercer has been practicing primarily family law in Nevada for 22 years, according to her website. This is her fourth bid for a seat on the Family Court bench. She has served as a truancy judge and as a Hearing Master for the Department of Family Services. She did not respond to requests for an interview.
Mercer reports raising $26,923 and had $1,724 left as of October 15.
Her opponent, Romeo Perez, has raised $43,970 and had $2,920 left as of October 15.
Perez says he’s practiced in all the family law courts for 20 years, handing grandparents rights, guardianship, adoption and other cases.
He says understanding people is what makes a good Family Court judge.
“I’ve been helping families from intake to trial,” he says. “I think it’s important for a judge to have trial experience. I have eight to 10 trials a year. It’s important for a judge to keep litigants to the rules.”
Perez says he has no judicial experience.
“I have experience helping families. I know the questions to ask. I know what judges need to hear. I know how to explain it to clients,” he says. “Judicial experience is one thing, but only a small part.”
“In custody cases you have to live with each other for many years after the case is closed,” he says. “A judge has to make you feel like you’ve been understood. That’s the temperament I bring.”
Perez says he’d like to set up a calendar of cases involving exclusively pro se litigants.
“The individuals always want to tell their story. They want to hear the guidance,” he says. “The problem comes when one party has a lawyer and the other doesn’t have a lawyer. That’s when the judge has to be very careful that no one feels swindled.”
Perez says his experience in a variety of areas of law is an asset.
“I think it’s important for judges to not only know family law but to know families,” he says. “If a judge has had experience in other arenas, it’s to the benefit of those litigants.”