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Judicial debate: Clark County Family Court, Dept. T: Candidate zeros in on opponent’s reprimand

In the final moments of a Review-Journal debate for a Family Court seat, candidate Jason Stoffel pointed to a reprimand against one of his opponents, Nadin Cutter.

“When you are doing certain things that fall below the standard of care, such as competence, diligence and communicating with a client, that’s relevant,” Stoffel said.

The State Bar of Nevada issued the public reprimand against Cutter in 2017, pointing to two separate cases.

In 2015, she substituted in for a fellow attorney in federal court and had not adequately familiarized herself with that court’s rules, the reprimand said. She was sanctioned $2,000 by a judge who found that she “lacked diligence in either responding to court orders or seeking additional court rulings by promptly filing appropriate motions.”

In another case in 2014, she did not submit monthly billing statements to a client, according to the filing.

During the debate, Cutter did not comment on the reprimand, which Stoffel displayed during his closing statement.

The two are vying for a seat in Department T, which is being vacated by the retiring Lisa Brown.

Another candidate on the ballot, attorney Gemma Nazareno-Edquilang, did not participate in the debate.

If a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the June primary, that candidate will win the election. Otherwise, the top two finishers will advance to November’s general election.

The debate was among 23 scheduled events for more than 70 candidates in judicial primary races.

While the debates can be found on reviewjournal.com, they also air Wednesday and Saturday nights on Cox Cable’s YurView Channel 14 as part of a partnership between the media companies.

Responding to questions from moderator Steve Sebelius, Cutter and Stoffel hashed out how they would handle ineffective attorneys and deal with “difficult people.”

Stoffel, a partner in Roberts Stoffel Family Law Group, said he favored addressing the attorneys directly.

“I’ve seen judges look frustrated,” Stoffel said. “Some judges, if they’re going to say something they’re going to regret, they will say, ‘We’re going to take a recess. Call another case.’ That’s the easy way. But some judges will straight-up do a sidebar … really remind them: ‘You’re not doing a great job. Your client deserves better.’ ”

But he acknowledged that Family Court hearings can become emotionally charged and said “sometimes a break does wonders.”

Cutter, who runs her own law firm, agreed that taking a break could be helpful.

“If an attorney is having a bad day, and they’re maybe not representing as zealously as I’ve seen before, I would give the attorney an opportunity,” and sometimes ask for arguments in writing, she said.

When dealing with difficult people in the courtroom, Cutter added: “I try to slow it down. And I try to break it down into the most basic tidbits as I can. Sometimes it’s not best to have a screaming match with somebody.”

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

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