Undercurrent

Prosecutors, public defenders, and private attorneys share judicial victories

By: - November 16, 2022 6:00 am

The Regional Justice Center in downtown Las Vegas. (Photo by Ronda Churchill)

Unlike 2020, when public defenders dominated a slate of Clark County judicial races, this year’s battles for the bench produced victors from a variety of legal sectors. 

In the race for Las Vegas Justice Court Dept. 13, deputy public defender Rebecca Saxe narrowly defeated longtime Justice of the Peace Suzan Baucum.

In the waning days of the campaign, Baucum appeared in an endorsement photo for Joe Lombardo, the Republican candidate who went on to win the election for governor. The Culinary Union, which had endorsed both Baucum and Saxe in the nonpartisan race, rescinded its endorsement of Baucum because of her visible support of a partisan candidate.  

Baucum, who raised almost twice as much in campaign contributions as her opponent, has not responded to requests for comment about her plans.

Attorney Jessica Goodey handily defeated former Judge Bill Gonzalez in the race for Las Vegas Justice Court Dept. 6. Goodey says she ran for the seat because she was frustrated by the slow pace of civil cases. 

In the race for Las Vegas Justice Court Dept 7, attorney Amy Wilson defeated deputy public defender Max Berkley by 12 percentage points. Berkley, the son of former U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, raised $320,000 compared to Wilson’s $89,000.

Incumbent Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure easily defeated prosecutor Danielle “Pieper” Chio in the race for Dept. 9. 

Justice of the Peace Cybill Dotson took the bench a year ago after she was appointed by the Clark County Commission to fill the vacancy left by former Justice of the Peace Melanie Tobiasson’s resignation. Dotson lost by nine percentage points to prosecutor Noreen Demonte in the race for Dept 10.

Longtime Family Court official Mari Parlade prevailed in a five-way race for Family Court A. 

District Court Judge Maria Gall, appointed by Gov. Steve Sisolak this year, handily defeated former Nevada regent James Dean Leavitt. Leavit called Gall’s appointment just months before the election “shameless” and “pure political pandering” by Sisolak. 

Another Sisolak appointee, Judge Ellie Roohani, lost to attorney Anna Albertson. Roohani, a former federal prosecutor, had no experience in district court before taking the bench. 

Public defender Jennifer Schwartz prevailed in a three-way race with attorney Adam Ganz and prosecutor Lindsey Moors for Clark County District Court Department 17. The special election was held to fill the vacancy created by Judge William Voy’s sudden resignation in June. 

In the only contested race on the Nevada Court of Appeals, deputy public defender Deborah Westbrook defeated Judge Rhonda Forsberg, who will remain on the Family Court bench. 

As a chief deputy public defender, Westbrook specialized in appeals work.  

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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. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.

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