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Hearing master, attorney compete for new Family Court Department Z

Attorneys Michele “Shell” Mercer and Romeo Perez are going head-to-head to be Department Z’s first judge. It’s one of six new departments created to deal with an expanding caseload.

In the primary, Mercer came out ahead with 40.86 percent of the vote, and Perez with 24.01 percent. Both attorneys have 22 years of experience in family law.

Mercer has served as pro tem hearing master in Family Court for 11 years. She said she has presided over more than 4,000 hearings in the areas including juvenile delinquency, domestic violence and child support.

“I believe that’s what I’m made for,” Mercer said. “The judge has to see things neutrally from both sides, I’m very good at that.”

Perez said he has argued and analyzed both sides of cases and believes he won’t find it difficult to transition into judicial robes if elected. His judicial philosophy would be to follow the law and explain to litigants his decisions to give them closure.

“At the end of the day I’m going to make a ruling based on the law and what’s right for this family— when that family can’t make their own decisions, I will make that decision for them,” Perez said.

Mercer’s judicial philosophy is to give access to justice and to keep in mind she is there to serve the people, she said. Because of her service as a hearing master, she is confident the transition would not be a problem, if elected.

“I want to be there to serve the taxpayers, to serve the people who are in the courtroom and listen carefully to what they’re going through and make the absolute best decision,” she said.

Perez said that after every trial he goes over the case and sees what could be improved to not repeat mistakes made.

“The best thing we can do for our clients is to do what we didn’t do for our last client. And go forward to get that corrected and do better every time we go to trial,” he said.

Both attorneys have had cases and trials through video chat during the pandemic, they agree that it is easier and more affordable and accessible. Overall, they agree the court process could be facilitated so litigants can resolve issues more efficiently.

Mercer has been endorsed by the Las Vegas Peace Officers Association, Southern Nevada Building Trades Unions and the Clark County Deputy Marshals Association, among others.

Perez is endorsed by Hispanics in Politics, the Latin Chamber of Commerce and the Nevada Veterans Association, among others.

Contact Jannelle Calderon at jcalderon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @NewsyJan on Twitter.

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