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Chelini unseats Judge Hafen, who had lawyer handcuffed

Three Las Vegas Justice Court candidates, including two incumbents, have won seats in Tuesday’s primary.

A race for a District Court seat, meanwhile, appeared headed to the general election in November, with the Department 20 incumbent leading a pack of four candidates.

In the race for Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Dept. 14, Amy “JoAnne” Chelini, a longtime defense lawyer and former prosecutor, collected 62.4 percent of the vote and unseated incumbent Conrad Hafen, with 100 percent of the votes in.

Hafen drew criticism from groups of defense attorneys after ordering a public defender handcuffed in court last month.

Chelini relied on backing from 26 different organizations, including police, unions, fire and veterans groups, along with support from friends and family.

“It’s surreal. It means more to me than I can tell you,” Chelini said. “I’m honored that the voters have the confidence in me to do the job, and I’m not going to let them down.”

Las Vegas Justice Court incumbents Joe Bonaventure, in Department 9, and Melissa Saragosa, in Department 4, each received nearly 60 percent of the vote, the results show.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace, which carries a six-year term, pays $153,449.

Bonaventure was first elected to the bench in 2004. He called a win in the primary “a vote of trust.”

“I’ve worked so hard to not only uphold my family’s reputation, but to also build my own reputation,” he said. “I treat this responsibility very seriously. And I certainly won’t let the voters down.”

Saragosa faced opponents for the first time in her nearly nine years on the bench.

“It was definitely a lot of work,” Saragosa said. “But I am happy to see that experience in criminal and civil law that justice court handles and length of time practicing has prevailed.”

District Court Judge Eric Johnson received more than 45 percent of the vote for Department 20. That race is headed to the general election, where he will square off against Anat “Annette” Levy, a lawyer who practices in Nevada and California. Levy obtained 24.3 percent of the vote with 100 percent of precincts reporting. That job pays $160,000 a year.

Two other races for Las Vegas Justice of the Peace are headed to the general election.

Chief Deputy Public Defender Harmony Letizia grabbed 44.1 percent of the vote, leading incumbent Janiece Marshall, who captured 29.8 percent, in the race for Department 3.

Letizia, who has practiced law for less than a decade, raised nearly four times as much as Marshall, who has more than 20 years experience as an attorney, according to campaign finance reports.

In a three-way race for Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Department 6, incumbent Bita Yeager and attorney Rebecca Kern will advance to the general election.

Yeager, a former public defender appointed to the bench last year, collected 37.8 percent of the vote.

Kern picked up 31.3 percent of the vote, holding off prosecutor Jeff Rogan, who finished with 30.9 percent with 100 percent of precincts reporting as of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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

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