Night court

Las Vegas police routinely cite and arrest various drunks, hustlers and unlicensed vendors along the Strip. But police complain the busy local court system assigns little priority to such minor offenses. Perpetrators skip court dates without consequences, and cases are dismissed because judges have bigger problems to deal with.

So new Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson is studying a proposal to implement a night court on the Strip, where offenders would be “forced to pay up,” fined heavily the very night of their offense and quickly sent on their way.

Las Vegas police Capt. Todd Fasulo, whose Convention Center Area Command patrols the Strip, likes the idea.

“We get bombarded from hotel complaints and continue to write the same 50 to 60 tickets for the same people,” Capt. Fasulo says. “The judges dismiss it because there’s no way they’re going to put somebody in jail for selling a bottle of water. We’re telling (officers) to go out there, and they’re thinking, ‘Why keep spinning my wheels?’ “

A group studying resort corridor issues recently proposed the night court to the County Commission as a way to clean up the Strip and make it more inviting for tourists. It’s unclear how many nights a week such a night court would be open. “This is still in the exploratory stage,” Mr. Wolfson says.

Mr. Wolfson’s office is looking at different variations of the program, which could include a physical satellite courtroom location on or near the Strip, on-call judges or full-blown court sessions downtown at the Regional Justice Center.

A Strip court location would be more convenient for officers because cases would be expedited, Capt. Fasulo said.

A few questions need to be addressed. Are we to presume every suspect will plead guilty? That none will ask to speak to an attorney? Will every drunk and street performer be carrying the $500 necessary to cover the fines?

But the night court is certainly worth a try. Tourism is the city’s lifeblood, and people who are truly harassing the tourists, picking their pockets or selling them adulterated goods should be dealt with briskly and firmly.

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