4 lawyers vying for Clark County district judgeship for Department 2

Four lawyers are pitted against one another in the June 10 primary to see who will be the next Clark County district judge to sit on the bench in Department 2.

Lawyers Phung Jefferson, Richard Scotti, William S. Skupa and John G. Watkins have thrown their hats in the ring to replace Judge Valorie Vega, who announced her retirement earlier this year.

Jefferson, a graduate of the Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, Calif., has served as a small claims referee for Las Vegas Justice Court, according to her website.

Jefferson also provides free seminars for numerous community and social organizations on topics including domestic violence and how to run a small business.

The website boasts she learned her “ironclad work ethic” from her father, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant.

“I am asking Clark County residents to vote for me based upon my legal experience which includes years of practice in various areas of the law, inclusive of criminal and civil matters, which Department 2 currently presides over,” Jefferson wrote in an email to the Review-Journal. “Additionally, I have represented clients in both criminal and civil jury trials. In fact, I have also argued a case before the Nevada Supreme Court.”

Scotti, a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of Law, is a partner with Kemp, Jones &Coulthard.

He has worked as a foreclosure mediator, settlement judge for the Nevada Supreme Court, arbitrator for the State Bar, and wrote an “Ask a lawyer” column for the Review-Journal, his website says.

He has worked pro bono for the Legal Aid of Southern Nevada and is a member of the State Bar’s board of governors.

“My professional background has prepared me to be an outstanding judge. I have a reputation for being ethical, honest and fair,” Scotti stated on his website.

In an email statement Scotti said, “I have the most experience handling complex civil litigation in diverse areas of the law… I have the experience to know and follow the law, and the courage and integrity to do the right thing.”

Skupa, a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles school of law, has been practicing law in Nevada since 1970, according to the State Bar.

Skupa said his qualifications include four decades of practicing law in southern Nevada, most of which was spent concentrating on personal injury law and criminal defense. “Over 40 years I’ve done virtually everything,” he said.

He’s worked as an arbitrator and mediator and has been a protem judge in the short trial program since 2002, Skupa said. He started out as prosecutor and still loves going to court every day. “I like it… that’s where I like being,” Skupa said.

Skupa said a good judge is someone who not only knows and understands the law but has a good temperament.

Watkins, a graduate of the St. Louis University school of law, has been practicing law since 1980, according to the State Bar.

According to his website, Watkins said he will focus on running an efficient courtroom to make sure trials move along quickly, thereby saving money.

In an email, Watkins said, “I have extensive legal experience in both civil and criminal matters. My background as a criminal prosecutor and defense attorney allows me to see both sides of issues presented. Additionally, my military experience has provided me with leadership skills. I have handled over 100,000 legal cases without any ethical violations.”

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @fjmccabe

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