weather icon Clear

Judicial debate: Clark County Family Court, Dept. Z: Candidates put children at forefront

Four attorneys vying for an open seat on the Family Court bench emphasized the importance of prioritizing children in domestic violence cases during a debate hosted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Judicial hopefuls Randall Forman, Michele Mercer, Romeo Perez and Kevin Speed also explained how they would make an effort to treat everyone who steps into their courtroom fairly if they were elected. They are running for the seat in Department Z, one of six new Family Court positions.

Debate moderator Steve Sebelius, the newspaper’s politics and government editor, asked the candidates how they would balance visitation rights with the need to keep victims and kids safe in cases involving domestic violence, one of the most common issues handled in Family Court.

Mercer, a family law attorney and temporary hearing master in Family Court who has been licensed in Nevada since 1998, said her experience has equipped her to handle domestic violence cases fairly. She said she thinks it’s important for a judge to gather all available information and make an effort to understand each family and its history before making a decision.

“It’s important … to try to make sure there’s as much access that the children have with their parents while they’re going through this extremely different time, even if it’s limited in-person temporarily or if it’s through FaceTime visitations, as long as we can make sure that the best interests of the children are met during this hard, difficult period,” Mercer said.

Speed, a criminal defense attorney at the Clark County public defender’s office who has been licensed in Nevada since 2004, added that while he believes the top priority should always be the best interest of the child, the next highest priority should be the victim.

“The most important factor that we must consider when making any decision as the judge is what’s in the best interest of the child,” Speed said. “Following that, making sure that the abused spouse is kept safe and protected from any further harm.”

When asked about how he would deal with difficult people in court, Perez, who owns his own law office and has been licensed in Nevada since 2003, said he would prioritize honesty.

“Dealing with difficult people is not that difficult when you set your emotions aside and simply put out your argument,” Perez said. “You put out the reasons behind your argument, and then you win.”

Forman, a staff attorney for Family Court who has been licensed in Nevada since 2009, said he would take his experience as the child of divorced parents to help understand where people are coming from in Family Court.

“I have the intellect, the patience and the demeanor to make an excellent judge,” Forman said. “I know what families go through in the middle of a divorce. I know how it affects our children. I know that a judge with compassion and kindness will be the best thing for Clark County.”

If a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the June primary, the candidate will win the election. In primary races where no candidate captures a majority of votes cast, 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 for Family Court, District Court and the Nevada Supreme Court.

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

Contact Alexis Egeland at aegeland@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0335. Follow @alexis_egeland on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Nevada gyms, bars that do not serve food can reopen Friday - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday evening said Phase 2 of the state’s Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery will begin on Friday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Rep. Horsford admits to having affair - VIDEO
Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford admitted to having an affair with Gabriela Linder, a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid. Linder detailed her account of the affair in a podcast she called, "Mistress for Congress." (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak says businesses will begin reopening under phase 1 - VIDEO
The first phase of reopening Nevada’s businesses will begin Saturday, May 9, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden denies Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation - VIDEO
The former senate aide claims Biden assaulted her in 1993 when he was a senator. Biden first denied the accusations via a public post on Medium. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
RJ interview with Sisolak on the reopening plan for Nevada - VIDEO
The Las Vegas Review-Journal interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak on the plan for reopening Nevada during the coronavirus pandemic. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak reacts to Goodman CNN interview- VIDEO
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman repeated her call to immediately reopen businesses during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, leading to a reaction from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak praises Nevadans for staying at home, saving lives - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday it’s still too early to know when the state’s COVID-19 shutdown orders could be lifted or when businesses could start to reopen their doors. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump gives governors 3-phase approach to open US - VIDEO
President Donald Trump declared victory in America’s war against the “invisible enemy” as the president’s Coronavirus Task Force released “Opening up America Again” guidelines. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump names Jacky Rosen to task force on reopening economy - VIDEO
President Donald Trump named Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., to be a member of his Opening Up America Again Congressional Group Thursday to advise him on coronavirus policy. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders endorses Joe Biden for president - VIDEO
On April 13, former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders announced his official endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders drops out of 2020 Democratic race for president - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont officially announced an end to his 2020 presidential bid on Wednesday. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic National Convention postponed - VIDEO
The Democratic National Convention was set to take place over four days in the middle of July. Democratic officials have now confirmed the convention will take place the week of Aug. 17. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson allows immediate sale of alcohol with curbside pickup - VIDEO
The city of Henderson decided Thursday evening to allow alcohol to be sold by restaurants as part of their curbside pickup service during the COVID-19 crisis. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak signs order banning any gathering of 10 or more people - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday signed a new order banning any gathering of 10 or more people in Nevada in another step the state has taken to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Takeaways from the president's daily briefing on coronavirus - VIDEO
RJ Washington correspondent Debra Saunders talks about today's daily White House news conference regarding the coronavirus outbreak, Friday, March 20, 2020. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judicial Department 5 Debate - Video
The Las Vegas Review-Journal hosts a debate between the 3 candidates running for Department 5 in Clark County District Court. Participating are Veronica M. Barisich, Terry A. Coffing and Blair Cowan Parker.
Trump cancels Las Vegas trip because of ‘coronavirus outbreak’ - VIDEO
President Donald Trump canceled planned travel to Las Vegas ‘out of an abundance of caution’ amid virus outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)