Multiple candidates vying for Family Court seat in special election 

By: - October 18, 2022 6:20 am
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Six candidates are vying in a special election for Family Court Dept. A, a seat recently vacated by longtime Judge William Voy. The winner need only get a plurality, not a majority. 

Kristine Brewer attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego and has been licensed in Nevada since 2003, according to her website.  

“When people get divorced they are dividing money and assets. That’s all the money in the world to these people, and their children are all the love in the world. So it’s very important to me that someone who cares, and I do, is on the bench to assist families,” she says.

Brewer says her goal is to diminish conflict and encourage parties to compromise. “But if they can’t, I’m ready, willing and able to make decisions according to the law.” 

Brewer has served as a truancy diversion judge, pro bono settlement master, parent coordinator, and guardian ad litem, her website says.  

She ran unsuccessfully against Judge Jesse Walsh in 2014, after initially filing that year for a seat in Family Court.  

Brewer defended Dr. Conrad Murray when he was sued by Michael Jackson’s family and when his Nevada medical license was in jeopardy for failing to pay child support. Murray was found guilty in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for Jackson’s death.  

If elected, she’d like to institute a mediation program in which a family law attorney is on hand to assist unrepresented parties come to an agreement. “That could help the docket for the judges so much.”

Family law attorney Lynn Hughes, a graduate of Indiana University School of Law, is making his fourth bid for the judiciary. He most recently applied for an appointment to Family Court G in 2019.

“My clients range drastically from wealthy individuals dealing with probate litigation or divorce to indigent individuals needing assistance with family issues, such as custody or guardianship,” he wrote in his application at the time to the Judiciary Selection Committee. 

Hughes was reprimanded this year by the Nevada Bar for issuing a partial refund to a client after failing to do the work she requested. The client paid Hughes a $3,000 retainer to file a motion for enforcement of an order against her ex-husband requiring him to pay child support and sell the family’s home. 

“As time went on, communication from your office declined and her emails requesting status updates went unanswered,” the bar wrote in the complaint. 

Hughes eventually notified his client the motion had been prepared but never filed. She asked that her retainer be refunded in full but received a check for less than half, according to the reprimand. 

“In short, you charged $1,624 for a motion you were retained to file but which was never filed…” the bar wrote

Hughes says he failed to satisfy his client.  

Hughes has been an attorney for 25 years, and served as a pro tem hearing master in Family Court. “I like making the decisions more than arguing for them.” 

He’s endorsed by the International Association of Firefighters, and says he intentionally raised no money for his campaign when the Current interviewed him in early October.  

“I don’t want to be beholden to any firms or companies or anything like that if they come in front of me. So I’ve been trying to do it myself,” he says. Does he think judges who raise money are beholden to contributors? “I guess what I’m saying is I want to avoid the very appearance.”

He has since reported receiving $2,000 from Robert Stoffel Family Law and $250 from the Clark County Firefighters Union, according to his contribution and expense report.  

Hughes says if elected, he’ll strive to make the court more accessible to the almost two-thirds of Family Court litigants appearing without an attorney. 

“The self-help center is there and it’s available. The tricky thing for the judge is he’s not allowed to advocate for either one,” says Hughes. “I think more than half the cases down there do not have attorneys. They’re dividing their assets. They don’t have much to divide and to blow it on attorneys while they’re trying to get things organized or reorganized – they just are unable to do that.”

Hughes says he prefers being physically in court to remote hearings, but says it’s been a financial benefit to his clients when he appears virtually.  

“They don’t have to pay me to travel down to the courtroom up here and then travel back to my office. I can just do the hearing from my office. But I just like being in front of the judge to make my arguments,” Hughes says.

Hughes is a Nevada Supreme Court appointee to the Permanent Guardianship Commission, where he serves on the rules committee, drafting rules to make “guardianship court more universal in the application of the law.”

David Jacks is a family law attorney.  He has raised no money, according to his contribution and expense report.  

Jacks did not respond to requests for an interview. His law practice website contains a blog with posts he has authored on a variety of family law topics. 

Stephanie Keels is a graduate of California Western School of Law and was admitted to practice in Nevada in 2020. She’s a first-time candidate for public office and did not respond to requests for an interview. She has no campaign website and has not filed campaign finance reports with the state.  

Robert Kurth is making his fifth bid for the bench. He lost a Las Vegas Justice Court bid in 2010, and another in 2016.  He also lost a 2011 race for Las Vegas Municipal Court and a 2014 race for District Court.  

Kurth did not respond to requests for an interview. 

His website says he attended Brigham Young University and later graduated from UNLV with a business administration degree. He attended law school at the University of Denver, College of Law.

In 2017, the Nevada Bar issued a public reprimand to Kurth, who the bar found to be negligent in record keeping procedures for his trust account when a check failed to clear. 

Kurth has raised $2,000 and spent $2,000 through September. 

Mari Parlade is the Legal & Strategic Initiatives manager at Clark County Family Services. She says she’s worked extensively with families going through divorce, as well as children suffering abuse and neglect.   

“I’ve seen children get lost, especially in these custody battles where children are used as pawns, or when parents make false allegations against the children and use the child welfare agency to try to one up the other party in custody court,” she said in an interview.  

Parlade has served as a juvenile court hearing master on child abuse and neglect cases, delinquency, domestic violence, truancy, and drug court proceedings, according to her website.  

She says remote hearings can be beneficial, especially for hearing from children. 

“I really believe that the adults should be in court,” she says, “unless they have a medical condition or something that precludes them from being able to be there. There’s still nothing like the best evidence of having the parties there before to judge so that the judge can assess body language and everything in person.”

She has raised $45,595 through September and spent $38,353. 

“Number one for this race is to try to get as many endorsements as possible,” she said. 

She’s won endorsements from the Juvenile Justice Probation Officers’ Association. Clark County Juvenile Justice Supervisors’ Association, Asian Chamber of Commerce, Hispanics in Politics, Southern Nevada Building Trades Union, the Latin Chamber of Commerce, and others.

Parlade’s license was suspended several years ago when she failed to complete continuing law education classes on time. 

“It was horrible,” she said. “I took all the courses, paid the money and I was so embarrassed about it.”

Note: This story was updated with comment from Kristine Brewer.

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.