Nevada Judicial Elections - "Most People Admit They Know 'Nada' About Judicial Elections"

Vincent Ginn was the last person to enter a Clark County judicial race Friday, and he attracted some attention because he had already done so. He switched races just before the 5 p.m. deadline to file for office.

Thomas didn't even have to show up at the Clark County Government Center to run off his clients' competition, as he did to various judicial candidates in 2014. As he demonstrated that year, Thomas likes to convince candidates it's in their best interest to leave races in which he has a client and move into races where he doesn't.

What Thomas does is not illegal, but to me it's wrong. It deprives voters of choices.

Voters don't pay much attention to nonpartisan judicial races. Instead, the public complains about bad judges when it's too late and they're already on the bench.

Ginn pulled out of the race for Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Department 3, currently held by Janiece Marshall. Instead of facing three challengers, Marshall will face only Harmony Letizia and Sean Connell in the June 14 primary.

Letizia, a chief deputy public defender who represents indigents, has a number of advantages. Between her father and Thomas, who have been active in political races for decades, she won't have problems raising money. It won't hurt that her grandfather is restauranteur Freddie Glusman, owner of Piero's. I'm predicting that when she reports her first campaign finance report in May, she'll have raised the most of any nonincumbent and maybe more than some incumbents.

Ginn jumped into the race for Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Department 7, now held by incumbent Karen Bennett-Haron, who had been unopposed until Deputy District Attorney Noreen DeMonte jumped in on Thursday.

Bennett-Haron has poor ratings in the Las Vegas Review-Journal's "Judging the Judges" evaluations, one reason DeMonte cited for selecting that race. Bennett-Haron will drop her husband's name on the ballot and run as Karen Bennett, taking advantage of the popularity of her father, the late Rev. Marion Bennett, a civil rights activist.

Bennett and Letizia are not the only judicial candidates to trade in on paternal names.

Since 2004, Joe Bonaventure, the Justice of the Peace in Department 9, has parlayed his name into a judgeship. His father of the same name was a District Court judge who heard some of the valley's most famous criminal cases. But Bonaventure's name recognition didn't scare off two challengers, Steven Goldstein and Robert Kurth.

In Justice Court Department 13, there will be confusion between names, whether deliberate or not. Suzan Baucum holds the seat, but Shana Bachman, one of just a few candidates who provided no contact information, filed against her.

Providing no contact information is almost always a sign the candidate is not serious. But Bonaventure didn't provide any contact information, either. Guess he figured the civic groups and media types who use these lists should be able to find him.

In Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Department 4, I recognized Amber Candelaria, because in 2010 she tried to run for a judgeship when she hadn't met the requirement that candidates have at least five years of experience as an attorney. She mounted a legal challenge using the feeble argument she had a bill from the State Bar asking for dues for five years. The Nevada Supreme Court held that a year is 365 days, or 366 this year.

Justice Court Department 14 also is worth watching. Incumbent Conrad Hafen is being challenged by Amy Chelini, who already has a boatload of notable supporters, and Phung Jefferson, who has run twice before and has been criticized by the Review-Journal editorial board for the lack of depth in her legal knowledge.

Chelini, a private attorney and former deputy DA, said she chose to run against Hafen because he "lacks common sense" and locks up people who don't need to be locked up. "It's OK for violent criminals, but not for people who are 10 hours shy of serving their community service," she said.

Other races are also worth watching.

District Judge Eric Johnson is running for his first full six-year term in Department 20. Among his three challengers, the one with the most name recognition is Catherine Ramsey, but it's negative name ID. The North Las Vegas municipal judge faces a recall in her own community, so her fallback position is to to try for a state judgeship. Johnson also faces Scott Michael Holper and Anat "Annette" Levy.

At least two candidates filed for every county judgeship. No one got a pass.

Nevada Supreme Court Justices James Hardesty and Ron Parraguirre were automatically re-elected when no one filed to run against them. No one filed against Appellate Court Judges Michael Gibbons and Abbi Silver.

Appellate Court Judge Jerry Tao was the only statewide judicial candidate to get an opponent, Neil Durrant, who listed a post office box number as his only contact information.

Most people will admit they know next to nada about the judicial candidates on their ballots, one reason I am a strong supporter of judicial appointments with retention elections.

I am in the minority, but I'll keep beating that drum, even if nobody listens.