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After close primary, former judge, attorney fight for Family Court Dept. U

Family Court Department U, a brand-new seat, has drawn two candidates who fought a very close primary race.

Attorneys Bill Gonzalez and Dawn Throne were separated by less than a single percentage point difference in the June primary. Gonzalez, a former Family Court judge appointed in 2009 by then-Gov. Jim Gibbons, served until 2014, when he was defeated for re-election. He’s been in private practice since then.

Gonzalez won the June primary with 38.28 percent to Throne’s 37.53 percent.

Throne has 23 years of experience, she is one of 48 attorneys in the State of Nevada to be certified as a Family Law specialist. She has a wide range of experience in cases, from custody and adoptions to personal injury, bankruptcy and criminal misdemeanors.

In 2009, Gonzalez earned a 60 percent retention rating in the Review-Journal’s Judging the Judges survey. In 2013, that retention score was 68 percent.

“That was seven, almost seven out of 10 attorneys that appeared in front of me felt that I was doing a good job and that I should be retained as a judge,” he said.

Throne pointed out that during Gonzalez’s time as a judge, she as an attorney saw that he couldn’t manage or resolve cases in a timely manner, which could increase attorney fees and costs.

Gonzalez defended himself saying that when he took the bench in 2009, he had 800 open cases and by 2014 that was down to 410.

“So if you look at the actual facts of what happened when I was on the bench, I did a really good job,” Gonzalez said. “And I knew how to administer a calendar. And the most important thing for me was to have an atmosphere where people could resolve their cases quickly.”

Throne said she has more experience under her belt since she has handled a variety of “complex” family law cases including financial issues, years long custody cases, as well as guardianship, termination of parental rights and adoptions.

Both attorneys have had training and experience with mental health issues in the courtroom.

“I’ve represented children with mental health issues. I’ve worked with psychologists and psychiatrists in assisting my juvenile clients to address these issues,” Gonzalez said, who is currently a court-appointed attorney for abuse and neglect court.

“Part of the part of the training is my in my undergrad work, I took a lot of psychology and sociology classes. And it’s also experience in dealing with people and mediating,” Throne said. “I’ve had mediation training, arbitration training and learning how to deal with people’s issues and redirect them to what needs to be solved.”

As a judge, Throne said she would put herself in the applicant’s shoes to try to understand their position and explain to them the ruling and decisions made in the hearing. She would like to have them feel like they were heard in the courtroom.

Gonzalez said he would set the tone in the courtroom by immediately addressing litigants and attorneys that are being disrespectful. He said he would aim for the courtroom to be a comfortable place for people, where they can have their voice heard and resolve their issues, he said.

Contact Jannelle Calderon at jcalderon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @NewsyJan on Twitter.

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