Family Court Department C draws 5 candidates

Five candidates seek the Department C position left vacant by suspended Family Court Judge Steven Jones, who in January announced he was withdrawing from the nonpartisan race.

Jones was suspended for three months in February by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline over his mishandling of a romantic relationship with the late former prosecutor Lisa Willardson. Jones remains suspended as a result of a federal investment fraud indictment.

Candidate Rebecca Burton, a family law attorney, said she would work to restore the public’s confidence in Department C in the wake of the Jones’ scandal.

“I’m just not a drama person,” she said. “It’s showing up, and it’s doing a good job and not letting your personal life interfere with your professional life.”

The good judges are the ones who people don’t hear about, said candidate Lynn Hughes, an attorney who practices family law about 60 percent of the time.

“Because they are good, they don’t get the attention,” he said. “I would be one of those judges that you don’t hear of, giving people a fair shot to present their case.”

Candidate John “Jack” Hall Howard, a family law attorney, said he has worked “very hard to acquire and maintain an excellent reputation.”

Howard said he decided to run for judge because he wants to put to work his experience of practicing family law and his experience being a parent and foster parent.

He has been a judge pro tem in every division in Family Court, including juvenile, child support, probate, guardianship and temporary protective orders.

Howard is currently a judge pro tem handling probate cases in Family Court.

“I want to put the experience to hopefully good use,” he said.

If elected, he plans to focus on being thoroughly prepared for every case and treating people with respect and dignity.

“People are afraid when they go to court,” he said.

Burton said she’s the most qualified for the post.

“I believe that our best Family Court judges are ones who have had extensive experience in family law before the bench,” she said.

Her entire career has been devoted to family law. She’s also a certified family law specialist. To receive the designation, an individual has to be nominated to take a separate bar exam with the State Bar of Nevada. There’s only about 33 individuals in the state with such certification.

“No one can meet the depth of my practice in family law,” she said of her opponents. “I have a really good reputation in the community.”

Hughes said voters should vote for him. He is one of the pro tem judges in Family Court, in the guardianship division.

“I do enjoy acting as a judge,” he said.”I enjoy helping people solve their problems. I always want to hear both sides.”

He has more than a decade of family law experience and judicial experience.

“I think that makes me the best candidate for this position,” he said.

Candidate Marsha Kimble-Simms said voters should vote for her because she has been in the community for about 17 years and has always been involved in the child welfare system. As a lawyer, about half her time is devoted to family law.

“I feel that I’m the better qualified (candidate) because of my experience,” she said. “I’m more so interested in the children because the children are our future. “

She added she has the temperament that’s necessary to get the work as a judge done.

Michele Mercer didn’t return calls seeking comment for this story.

Contact Yesenia Amaro at or 702-383-0440. Find her on Twitter: @YeseniaAmaro.

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