A former prosecutor and a civil attorney are pitted against each other in the primary race for the newly created District Court Department 30 judgeship.

Michael Davidson and Jerry Wiese survived a field of four in the June 8 primary to square off in the November general election.

Department 30 is one of seven new judge seats created by a legislative directive to focus on civil cases that have overwhelmed Clark County courts.

Davidson, a former prosecutor for North Las Vegas and Clark County, has practiced law for more than three decades, including 20 years of civil litigation experience and a stint running the Clark County district attorney’s civil division.

He said his breadth of experience will allow him to assume the judgeship quickly and without much of a learning curve.

For the past six years, Davidson ran the criminal division as a prosecutor for North Las Vegas, until he was laid off. After, he landed at the firm of Kolesar and Leatham.

Davidson said a district judge must have experience in both the criminal and civil field. Even though the new seat will focus on civil cases, there might come a time when the department has to handle overflow criminal cases.

“That’s the advantage I got over him (Wiese). I’ve had experience doing all of those cases. He hasn’t,” Davidson said. “There is a significant difference in experience, and experience translates into judgment.”

Davidson has worked as a settlement judge for the Nevada Supreme Court to help reduce the number of appeals that were sent to the state’s high court. He has also worked as a hearing master for Juvenile Court and Small Claims Court.

Davidson, a graduate of the University of Arizona School of Law, was defeated in 2004 by Elizabeth Gonzalez after she was appointed to a judgeship by then-Gov. Kenny Guinn.

Wiese, who has spent most of his 15-year career handling civil cases, said he is better suited to run a department focused on civil cases because of his experience.

“It’s a civil seat, and I’m a civil trial attorney. He’s not,” Wiese said.

Davidson might have experience in civil law, but it’s not recent, Wiese said.

“I’m sure he’d be better for a criminal seat. Because it’s a civil seat, I’m probably more qualified for it,” Wiese said.

Wiese said if elected he would implement staggered start times for the morning calender so attorneys aren’t wasting time waiting to hear cases called. In most courtrooms, all cases have a calender call at the same time. Some calenders last for as long as four or five hours.

Wiese also wants judges to take the time to hear more settlement conferences to help resolve cases before trial.

Wiese who handles mostly medical malpractice litigation and personal injury cases, said he also would like to see a specialized court to hear medical malpractice cases, similar to business court.

A graduate of the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, he said he wants to be a judge to make a difference in the community, much as his wife, a teacher, does.

“I want to help people with their cases. I want to be able to go home at the end of the day and feel like I made a difference in the community,” Wiese said.

In 2006, Wiese unsuccessfully ran for a new District Court seat, which was won by Elizabeth Halverson, who was later ousted from the judgeship.

Davidson declined to say how much money he expected to spend on the general election.

Wiese said he expects to spend about $100,000 on the race.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

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