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Johnson seeking re-election in District Court Department 20

Clark County District Court Judge Eric Johnson has been on the Department 20 bench for five years. He’s hoping for six more.

But Johnson, who was first appointed in May 2015 and elected the following year, faces a challenge in the November general election from Dawn Allysa Hooker, a personal injury attorney who said she believes re-electing incumbents “can result in complacency on the bench.”

Little is known about Hooker’s candidacy. She has not been running an active campaign, nor does she have a campaign website. She also declined to participate in a recent judicial debate moderated by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, but said in email to the newspaper: “I have not accepted any money from the public or any organizations for my campaign. I do not have a website. Any votes I receive will be earned, not bought.”

“I chose to run in Department 20 because I believe in the impartiality, independence and integrity of the judicial system. Re-electing incumbents can result in complacency on the bench,” Hooker added. “Justice can only be served when the Court upholds and supports the existing law and avoids the appearance of impropriety, even when it is not the easiest path.”

Hooker, who currently works for a local injury law firm, did not further elaborate. Her areas of practice include personal injuries, car crashes, wrongful deaths and product liability cases, according to her biography on the Christensen Law Offices staff page.

Asked during the debate about his legacy as a judge, Johnson said, “I’d like people to think that I was a fair judge, that I was a judge who treated the parties in a fair and just manner, moved their cases, pushed their cases to trial.”

A former federal prosecutor for more than 30 years with the Nevada U.S. attorney’s office, Johnson added that a judge’s role “is to interpret and apply the law to the facts.”

“I don’t create the law. That’s the job of the Legislature,” Johnson told the Review-Journal. “I don’t enforce it. That’s the job of the executive. So what I try to do is to be fair to both parties, try to move litigation along and try to consider their motives and goals to the extent the law allows and ideally to bring them together on a joint resolution or to ultimately create the resolution.”

And after a half-decade on the bench conducting trials, Johnson said the judicial system is in need of bail reform and updated, standardized jury instructions.

“I come from the federal system, which provides for quicker review and different review of decorousness and risk of flight, in weighing whether or not someone should ultimately be detained,” he said. “I’ve been applying that during the five years in light of the lack of guidance from the Legislature.”

Department 20 oversees both civil and criminal cases.

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

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