Clash prevented in North Las Vegas Justice Court


A showdown has been averted -- at least temporarily -- between North Las Vegas Justice Court and District Attorney David Roger after the court lightened up on its demand for a third prosecutor to deal with its expanded criminal calendar.

"We never wanted a showdown," Terri March, the court's administrator, said Monday. "We're exploring alternatives to show we're flexible."

In a letter to Roger last Wednesday, Chief Justice of the Peace Natalie Tyrrell said the judges decided to "attempt staggering the morning calendars" this week to help the district attorney's office better staff the three courtrooms with two prosecutors.

Tyrrell, however, said the judges still wanted Roger to provide the "necessary coverage" on days when all three of the judges were simultaneously conducting preliminary hearings.

Roger, however, on Monday still wouldn't commit to adding a third prosecutor.

"Although Judge Tyrrell's letter sends mixed messages, I am confident that the North Las Vegas Justice Court will continue to work with us and accommodate our staffing problems," he said.

Court officials last month added a third morning criminal session on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, expecting Roger to send the third prosecutor to handle the extra courtroom time.

But Roger, struggling with the loss of dozens of positions because of the ongoing county budget crunch, let it be known he would only use the two prosecutors currently assigned to North Las Vegas.

Tyrrell then set up the possible showdown by issuing Roger an ultimatum to staff all three courtrooms with a prosecutor beginning on Tuesday.

The clash was the latest in a simmering dispute between county officials and the North Las Vegas court since a third justice of the peace took the bench in January 2009 .

County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who has been following the dispute, said he was pleased that the justices of the peace appeared to be willing to compromise.

"I appreciate their cooperation, given our fiscal situation, in working with us to keep costs low and still preserve the availability of services," he said.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135 or read more courts coverage at lvlegalnews.com.

 

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