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7 things we learned from Judging the Judges 2019

Updated December 4, 2019 - 7:02 am

The Las Vegas Review-Journal recently published results of the 2019 Judicial Performance Evaluation. Here are seven takeaways from the survey’s findings:

— Overall, attorneys gave positive reviews to the judges they evaluated. Across all court levels, respondents recommended retention 71 percent of the time.

— Attorneys thought voters should retain all of the state’s appellate judges: the seven justices of the Nevada Supreme Court and the three members of the Nevada Court of Appeals.

— Of the 89 judges evaluated, 11 are considered failing, which means less than half of the responding attorneys recommended that they be retained.

— Six of those failing judges are in Clark County Family Court, joined by two failing judges in Clark County District Court, two in Las Vegas Justice Court and one in North Las Vegas Municipal Court.

Family Court Judge Sandra Pomrenze received the lowest retention score of all the judges evaluated this year. Of the attorneys who rated her, 28 percent said she should be retained. No other judge received a score below 40 percent. In 2013, when the last survey was conducted, 47 percent of respondents said she should keep her seat. Her term ends in January, and she has said she would not seek re-election.

— Pomrenze and Family Court Judge Cheryl Moss tied for the lowest summary score — 3.0 on a weighted five-point scale — among all the judges rated. The score summarizes the results of the survey’s individual questions about performance. Moss received a retention recommendation from 42 percent of the lawyers who rated her.

— Attorneys thought two Clark County district judges should get the boot: Ron Israel, who received a retention score of 46 percent, and Carolyn Ellsworth, who received a score of 44 percent. Both are up for re-election in 2020, although Ellsworth has said she does not plan to seek another term.

— The only municipal judge in North Las Vegas is failing. According to the survey results, only 41 percent of participating attorneys felt Judge Sean Hoeffgen should be retained, down from 66 percent in 2013. In addition, 36 percent of participating attorneys strongly disagreed and 21 percent disagreed that Hoeffgen accurately applies the law, rules of procedure and rules of evidence. Hoeffgen is up for re-election in 2022.

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