Clark County District Judge Susan Scann dies after battling cancer

Clark County District Judge Susan Scann died Saturday after a long bout with pancreatic cancer, according to those who knew her. She was 70.

Scann, who earned a law degree in 1976 from California Western School of Law, was elected to the bench in 2010.

Scann concentrated in real estate, commercial litigation, bankruptcy litigation, and creditor representation, according to the Clark County District Court website. She also served as an alternate municipal court judge for the city of Las Vegas from 1980 through 2010.

Chief Judge David Barker said he received a message Saturday morning from Scann’s family about her death.

“She’s been a fixture in the legal community for years,” Barker said.

Among fellow judges, Scann was a “go-to expert” in understanding intricacies of real estate law, Barker said.

“Her door was always open,” he said. “That’s a nice thing to have when you’re a judge because so much of what we do is pretty isolated.”

She was remembered throughout the legal community for her thorough legal expertise, strong work ethic and warm smile.

Chuck Deaner, who worked with Scann for more than 30 years, said her life’s ambition was to be a judge.

He called her “a close friend, more than a law partner.” She was “just a damn good lawyer and a very genuine person.

Scann battled cancer for about 13 months, he said. “She was tough.”

District Judge Nancy Allf said she and Scann became friends 25 years ago, and while on the bench, the two trained together in business court.

“It was an honor to be her friend and an honor to serve with her,” Allf said. “She brought honor and dignity to the court every day. I’m going to miss her every day.”

Allf called her friend “one of the best lawyers I’ve ever known,” pointing to her skills in cross examining witnesses.

“She sharpened the fine points like a surgeon with a scalpel, building her arguments thoroughly, and then went in for the kill, often leaving the witness’s testimony in tatters,” Allf said. “I learned the hard way in the first trial we had against each other, and did my best to adopt her style for the rest of my legal career.”

Brent Larsen, who worked with Scann at the law firm Deaner, Deaner, Scann, Malan & Larsen, for 14 years called her “extremely thorough” and “very conscientious of needs of the client. She’d walk through hot coals if that’s what it took to get them the justice they deserved. She was relentless.”

Scann would often work late into the evenings and on weekends to get the job done, he said. And even in the toughest of cases, Scann kept an optimistic outlook.

“She was a very lovely lady, and a very accomplished practitioner,” Larsen said. “I hated to see her leave the firm. So we miss her.”

Scann was active in the Women’s Democratic Club of Clark County, the Southern Nevada Association of Women Attorneys and the Clark County Democratic Party.

Harold Gewerter recalled working with Scann when he was a young lawyer in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“She was the greatest mentor there could be because she cared about people and cared about educating new lawyers,” he said. “She always had time for the young lawyers in the firm.”

She married Bob Scannapieco, a musician and teacher, in 1980. She is survived by her husband; son Brian; daughter Kathryn Scannapieco Colwell; son-in- law Ronald Colwell; grandson Christian Colwell; and her sisters Sharon Wehan, Mary Lou Greenwald, Melanie Fake, and Joanne Mills.

Last year, the Clark County Democractic Lawyers Caucus awarded Scann for outstanding service in law and politics, according to an Eighth Judicial District Court blog.

She also served on the State Bar Ethics Committee and on the Clark County Bar CLE Committee, and was a founding member of the Clark County Bar Pro Bono Committee. In 1995, Scann received the 1995 Professionalism Award from the Clark County Bar Association.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said Scann was a “great judge.”

“Equally as recognizable was her smile,” he said. “She was just a very, very nice warm person. I wish I was as nice a person as judge Scann.”

Funeral services were still being arranged Saturday. Family members asked that donations, instead of flowers, be made to either St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church or The American Cancer Society in Scann’s honor.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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