Lawyer files for incumbent judge's seat; Mesquite judge hangs up his robe

A Las Vegas attorney filed Wednesday to challenge an incumbent Clark County District Court judge, and a longtime Mesquite judge decided to call it quits.

Phung Jefferson, 41, filed as a candidate for the Department 5 seat held by Carolyn Ellsworth.

Ellsworth, 56, threw her hat in the ring Tuesday, the first day of filing. Judicial candidates may file for office through Jan. 13.

Gov. Brian Sandoval appointed Ellsworth in September to fill the Department 5 seat after Jackie Glass left the post to serve as a judge on a TV court show.

State Bar of Nevada records show that Jefferson has been licensed in Nevada since 2001, and Ellsworth has been licensed in the state since 1980.

Only two Clark County District Court seats will appear on the 2012 ballot. The other is Department 20.

Sandoval appointed Jerry Tao to that seat a year ago to replace David Wall, who resigned to take a position with a Las Vegas law firm. Tao filed as a candidate for Department 20 on Tuesday.

Whoever wins the election in those two departments must run again in 2014 to be elected to a regular six-year term.

Mesquite Justice of the Peace Ron Dodd won't seek re-election.

"I'm calling it quits," said the judge, who served as Mesquite's municipal judge and later its Justice Court judge for more than 26 years.

Bill Berrett and Karen Beausoleil filed for the office as of Wednesday evening.

Berrett has been a licensed Nevada attorney for 30 years. He retired from the Clark County district attorney's office after 25 years in 2007. He has been a criminal defense attorney since then.

Beausoleil challenged Dodd in 2006. The former educator later obtained her law degree and practiced in Utah and Wyoming for several years before retiring to Mesquite about a decade ago.

She was not available for comment.

Dodd has no immediate plans.

"I'm looking for somebody to buy my house," he said. "Until then, I'll probably take my motorcycle for a ride."

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at or 702-384-8710. Contact reporter Doug McMurdo at or 702-224-5512.