weather icon Mostly Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

EDITORIAL: For District Court, Departments 4 and 5

Summer isn’t quite over, but make no mistake, it’s election season. Early voting for the Nov. 4 general election starts one month from today. Beginning today, the Review-Journal’s editorial board will offer recommendations in almost every race on the ballot, starting with endorsements in District Court and Family Court races — 28 seats for which all registered Clark County voters can cast a ballot.

In District Court, Department 4, incumbent Judge Kerry Earley faces Steve Smith. Judge Earley was appointed to her seat in June 2012 by Gov. Brian Sandoval, then won election in November 2012. Prior to her appointment, she spent 32 years as a litigator, including 25 years as a defense attorney. Last year, in Judge Earley’s first and only rating in the Review-Journal’s biennial Judicial Performance Evaluation, 71 percent of responding lawyers said she should be retained.

Mr. Smith also has extensive experience: more than 35 years as a civil and criminal attorney, including work as a short-term trial judge and pro-tem justice of the peace. He served as counsel for the Southern Nevada Health District during the implementation of the Clean Indoor Air Act and during the valley’s hepatitis outbreak and endoscopy center investigation.

Both candidates have merit, but Judge Earley’s initial retention score shows she deserves a full six-year term. The Review-Journal endorses Judge Kerry Earley in Department 4.

In Department 5, Judge Carolyn Ellsworth is being challenged by Assembly Majority Leader William Horne. Judge Ellsworth is another Gov. Sandoval appointee. She took the post in October 2011 after 11 years in the district attorney’s office, 10 years as a Mirage Resorts corporate attorney, seven years in private practice and four years with the Nevada secretary of state’s office. Mr. Horne, who has served in the Assembly for 12 years and is leaving office because of term limits, has been an attorney for 10 years. He worked for a few valley firms before entering private practice.

Like Judge Earley, Judge Ellsworth has been rated in only one Review-Journal Judicial Performance Evaluation, and her retention score was just above water at 51 percent. But Mr. Horne barely meets the bench’s requirement of being a practicing attorney for 10 years — and he spent half of every other year the past 12 years working as a legislator. Mr. Horne’s experience is no match for Judge Ellsworth’s; he’s just not yet ready for the bench. We’d like to see Judge Ellsworth’s retention scores come up — something we think will happen if she is re-elected to a full six-year term. The Review-Journal endorses Judge Carolyn Ellsworth in Department 5.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
CARTOON: Can’t get up!

President Biden’s recent fall at the Air Force Academy commencement ceremony puts the focus back on his age in his reelection campaign.