A trio of candidates vying for an opening on the Clark County District Court bench tackled the topic of access to justice during a debate hosted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Five people are on the ballot for the race in the June 9 primary. They are seeking the Department 24 seat that is being vacated by Judge Jim Crockett, who is retiring.
Attorneys Michael “Mickey” Bohn, Dan Gilliam and Joe Vadala hashed out various legal issues during the recent videoconference.
Two other candidates, 13-year prosecutor Dena Rinetti and public defender Erika Ballou, licensed since 2003, did not participate in the debate.
Each of the candidates involved in the debate said they would recommend mediation and settlement conferences to attorneys and litigants as a means to speed up the sometimes-slow wheels of justice.
“Mandatory mediation and settlement is always a good idea,” said Bohn, licensed in Nevada since 1984.
Gilliam, a criminal defense attorney and former city prosecutor in Henderson, said he had “no problem” with encouraging mediation in both civil and criminal cases.
Meanwhile, Vadala, special counsel with the Nevada attorney general’s office, said he agreed with “effective mediation.”
Debate moderator Steve Sebelius, the newspaper’s politics and government editor, also asked the candidates for their thoughts on access to justice.
“There are services available,” Bohn said. “But there’s never enough.”
Vadala, licensed in the state in 1994, said he would encourage more attorneys to work pro bono, or free of charge, for low-income clients.
Gilliam, licensed in Nevada since 2005, agreed.
“If I become judge, everyone is going to have equal access to justice,” he said.
In primary races where no candidate captures a majority of votes cast, the top two finishers will advance to November’s general election. If a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, the candidate will win the election.
The newspaper is hosting 23 scheduled events for more than 70 candidates in judicial primary races for Family Court, District Court and the Nevada Supreme Court.