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Candidates push for ‘balance’ on the bench in race for Department 12

A Clark County prosecutor is challenging a Las Vegas justice of the peace with a dozen years on the bench.

Before taking the bench, the incumbent in Department 12, Diana Sullivan, worked in private practice at one of Nevada’s oldest law firms before starting her own firm.

“I think I’m better qualified because of my civil experience,” she said, pointing to her knowledge in areas such as credit card collections, small claims, evictions and protective orders. “People tend to forget that Justice Court has a very large arm of civil cases.”

Shanon Clowers-Sanborn, a deputy district attorney for roughly 15 years, has handled several high-profile prosecutions.

She said she hoped to expand on her influence in the Las Vegas area as a judge.

“I want to have more impact on the community than I do as a district attorney, even though to be fair I think being a district attorney is a very powerful position,” she said. “I use the criminal justice system to help people, and I could do that even more so as a judge.”

This year, Sullivan’s peers appointed her as president of the Nevada Judges of Limited Jurisdiction group, which has been tackling evictions during the pandemic.

During a Review-Journal debate, Sullivan, who according to the most recent figures had raised $60,000 for her campaign, stressed a focus on better efficiency and more diversity with the court system.

She was first elected to the bench in 2008 and re-elected in 2014.

“I don’t think the Justice Court bench or the District Court bench, frankly, is a fair representation of our community as a whole,” Sullivan said. “But I do believe the Justice Court bench is fairly balanced.”

Clowers-Sanborn agreed.

In separate interviews, both candidates commented on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Justice Court.

“Coming out of the pandemic, I would like to see more virtual court appearances,” Sullivan said. “Upgrading the video conferencing system would save so much time, energy and money, if we could take advantage of what’s been forced upon us by way of electronic appearances.”

Sullivan said she wanted to work toward establishing “a more sophisticated case management system through data-driven information” in order to help cases move more quickly through the courts.

Clowers-Sanborn, who had raised nearly $12,000 for her campaign, said that if elected she would push for technological advancements within the Justice Court system.

“The amount of people sitting around, wasting time, is unbelievable to me,” she said. “Imagine how much easier it would be on the defendants, the defense attorneys, how much smoother things would go.”

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

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