District Court docket Division 21: Attorneys battle for open seat

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Tara Clark Newberry and Jacob Reynolds, candidates for District Court Department 21 (Face ...

Two attorneys are running for the open seat in District Court Department 21, after incumbent Judge Valerie Adair decided not to seek re-election.

Candidates Jacob Reynolds and Tara Clark Newberry spoke individually with the Las Vegas Review-Journal about their experience as attorneys. In the primary election in June, Reynolds came on top with 37.5 percent of the vote.

Reynolds was asked about his potential bias since he has been involved in conservative issues in his career and is running for a nonpartisan seat. His work includes a lawsuit that sought to recall three sitting members of the Nevada state Senate, two Democrats and one independent. The recall failed after organizers didn’t collect enough signatures.

Reynolds defended himself by pointing to his endorsements from Democrats and Republicans on his website,. He also said as part of his deciding process includes questioning his own bias and seeking the most solid arguments.

“As you’ve mentioned that I’ve practiced on some conservative matters. I’ve also done some liberal matters as well,” Reynolds said. “I’m the only person in this race with substantial bipartisan support… I understand that there’s going to be some partisans out there who look at it unfavorably and have, but the people who work with me in those cases know I’m a great attorney and have decided to support me in this race because they know my work.”

He believes that there is a systematic problem that affects people of color disproportionately, especially those with lower incomes. As an attorney, he said, he tries to help those people with pro-bono work and would like to address those issues if elected judge.

“These people, they just really need somebody, they’re scared of going to court,” he said. “They just need someone to stand by them, help them articulate an argument. It’s really not as hard as people think. I wish more attorneys would do it.”

Tara Clark-Newberry

Clark Newberry said all her career choices have prepared her to be a judge. Besides being an attorney, she has experience being a community police officer, an trial advocate and a mediator for the state’s foreclosure mediation program.

“So I actually have sat as a neutral third party and I understand the different facets and roles. And I think that is what’s going to make me a good judge,” she said. “Because I can sit neutral in between two parties, regardless of my life experience and understand the importance of weighing all of the information and facts in the most fair and impartial manner.”

Clark Newberry was a plaintiff in the Nevada case of Sevcik v. Sandoval, which challenged the state constitutional amendment that made gay marriage illegal. (Voters are being asked whether to repeal that language this November, in Question 2. Gay marriages are currently allowed nationwide because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision.)

“I think it’s important to understand that we all play a part in the development of our justice system. And while we, as attorneys take actions often on behalf of our clients, there are unique circumstances where we can take acts on behalf of the public to serve justice,” she said. “My involvement in that case really was about equality, and finding that in the constitution and the constitutional protections that we have applied to everyone.”

She believes in justice, equality and that everyone deserves to be heard in a courtroom.

As far as the election process, Clark Newberry said it is important that judges represent the interests of the community that they serve.

“We are public servants as judges, and you have to understand that you’re being asked to sit and not only be knowledgeable of the law and important procedures and decide cases, but knowledgeable of what the community wants,” she said. “I think it is important for us to have the election process and the appointment process and I think it works here in Nevada, to ensure that we have the most qualified judges on the bench.”

Contact Jannelle Calderon at [email protected] Follow @NewsyJan on Twitter.