03 Oct Dedree Butler
Photographs provided by candidates or their campaign committees.
CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE RESPONSES
Please share briefly what inspired you to run for this office and why you feel you’re qualified for the position.
I was inspired to run for family court judge because I have dedicated my career to public service and want to continue to serve my community, but on a higher level with a broader impact. There is a need for family court judges who are compassionate, fair, and diligent and who have the temperament to treat all people with kindness and respect. The majority of litigants in family court are representing themselves and simply want to be heard and treated fairly. As a career public defender, I stand next to people in court each day, being a zealous advocate regardless of a person's ability to pay for counsel. As a mother of three children who has been divorced, I can relate to the highly emotional cases before the court and will listen to all parties to apply the law justly. I am qualified for the position because I have family law experience, having handled divorce matters dealing with custody and child support issues. Additionally, I have handled guardianship and others types of family matters. I have represented over 3000 clients in my legal career and I am the only candidate in my race with varied legal experience in family law, insurance defense, and criminal matters, specifically domestic violence matters that have a major impact on family law cases. I have jury trial and bench trial experience and have represented the most vulnerable in our community, our children, in the juvenile delinquency division of family court. I am the most well-rounded candidate who will serve with compassion and fairness.
What are your views on the courts’ responsibility to uphold precedent on reproductive health care, particularly as it relates to Roe v. Wade and access to abortion as a constitutional right?
Per the judicial canons, judicial candidates are prohibited from making public statements that could give the appearance of partiality or bias, especially due to the non-partisan nature of judicial elections. Nevertheless, as a judge I would follow and apply the law as it currently stands and believe courts should uphold precedent as it relates to Roe v. Wade and access to abortion as a constitutional right.
What are your views on “human dignity,” as applied by the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Windsor (133 S. Ct. 2675), shares the same constitutional protection provided to liberty and equality rights?
Per the judicial canons, judicial candidates are prohibited from making public statements that could give the appearance of partiality or bias, especially due to the non-partisan nature of judicial elections. I fully support equal rights for all humankind. As a judge, I will follow the law and not discriminate against parties based on sexual orientation. I believe in human dignity and human pride with all people having equal access to the benefits of marriage, including same sex marriages. Per US v. Windsor, the federal government cannot discriminate against married lesbian and gay couples for the purposes of determining federal benefits and protections. As a judge, I will uphold the precedent set by the US Supreme Court.
Do you believe that Brown v. Board of Education (347 U.S. 483) was correctly decided?
Per the judicial canons, judicial candidates are prohibited from making public statements that could give the appearance of partiality or bias, especially due to the non-partisan nature of judicial elections. Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that U.S. state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional, even if the segregated schools are otherwise equal in quality. The Honorable Thurgood Marshall was the chief attorney arguing to the Supreme Court during a time of tumultuous race relations in the United States, issues that are present today. The Supreme Court held that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal, violating the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution. As a judge I will support the Brown v. Board of Education ruling.
Would you honor the request of a plaintiff, defendant, or witness in a case before you who is transgender to be referred to in accordance with that person’s gender identity?
Yes. As a judge I will respect all parties before me and use desired names and preferred pronouns per the request of the parties to ensure the parties feel respected. While many transgender people identify on a binary scale, some do not and may refer to themselves by other terms. There are few things more important than referring to someone by their desired name or pronoun. Doing so demonstrates basic respect and courtesy in the courtroom.
Describe your understanding of Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises (390 U.S. 400) and application of this precedent to nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in places of public accommodation.
The Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises case concerned a man who owned barbecue restaurants and refused to serve Black people. The court held that that a barbecue vendor must serve black customers even if he perceives such service as vindicating racial equality, in violation of his religious beliefs. The application of this precedent could be extended to include nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in places of public accommodation. Discrimination is discrimination and should not be tolerated, especially in places of public accommodation, per the court's holding.
Have you been involved in a significant case where a primary issue was sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV/AIDs discrimination? If so, can you provide the case, venue, case number and case citation (if published decision) and your involvement?
Yes, as a career public defender, I have represented many people in the LGBTQ community. I have represented clients who are HIV positive or living with AIDS. These clients fear discrimination generally based on sexual orientation and health status. I am respectful to all clients, and especially sensitive to clients who may feel discriminated against due to sexual orientation or HIV/AIDS status. If the client's sexual orientation or health status is an issue in the case and needs to be addressed in court, I address those facts as respectfully and privately as possible with the client's best interests in mind. I do not have a specific case number to provide and have not been involved in a published decision regarding these issues (to my knowledge).
With more and more Nevadans only one family emergency away from being unable to pay rent and maintain shelter for their loved ones, what steps would you take towards having a more equitable eviction process for Nevadans?
With the current COVID-19 world pandemic in mind, it is more important now than ever for legislators to create policies and provisions that support emergency housing funds and emergency shelter for families struggling with the inability to pay rent. As a judge, I would follow the laws as they stand, but encourage parties to not place families in a position to be without basic shelter. Judges have the discretion to grant a stay and delay the eviction to give the tenant more time to pay or move. A judge can set aside an eviction if there is a legal reason it should not have been granted.
How would you ensure that criminal defendants with adverse immigration consequences attached to their cases are protected in the event the case is dismissed or otherwise resolved, so that the criminal justice system does not become a trap for the undocumented?
Per the judicial canons, judicial candidates are prohibited from making public statements that could give the appearance of partiality or bias, especially due to the non-partisan nature of judicial elections. With that said, as a judge I would follow and apply the law as it currently stands. As a judge, I would make sure those charged with a crime are informed and advised of their rights, understanding the impact of their immigration status, and have the opportunity to speak with an immigration attorney prior to the hearing if possible. When a case is dismissed or resolved, a judge can expedite release procedures and make sure the person has access to counsel.
In recent years, we have seen Immigration and Customs Enforcement detain individuals as they are leaving criminal court hearings. Please describe your views on this practice.
Per the judicial canons, judicial candidates are prohibited from making public statements that could give the appearance of partiality or bias, especially due to the non-partisan nature of judicial elections. All people should be treated fairly and with dignity and respect. In some situations the court does not have authority or jurisdiction to interfere, but people should be advised of their rights, including the right to counsel. People should be given fair notice of all legal action.
What actions will you take to dismantle the school to prison and deportation pipeline? What do you see as the judiciary’s role in advancing restorative discipline practices for Nevada’s students?
Per the judicial canons, judicial candidates are prohibited from making public statements that could give the appearance of partiality or bias, especially due to the non-partisan nature of judicial elections. As a judge I would follow the laws and sentencing guidelines as they stand. Nevertheless, if a person is eligible for probation and it is appropriate based on the facts of the case, there are alternate programs and specialty courts like Veteran's court, drug court, mental health court, and co-occuring court programs that encourage rehabilitation and restorative discipline over warehousing people in prison. Furthermore, there are programs that provide alternatives to prison specifically geared toward young people ages 18-25. If funding and eligibility is not an issue, there should be a preference for those resources to encourage Nevada's students to become productive members of the community. Based on my experience representing children in the juvenile delinquency division of family court, I learned that most youth charged with crimes did not have resources and support needed to developed positively, but if given the opportunity and support, magic happens.
What do you think is the most important issue or problem in the state’s justice system today, and how would you work to address it?
The most important issue in the state's justice system today is unequal access to justice and discrimination based on race, class, socio-economic status, and many other factors. I left private practice to become a public defender to fight for those who could not afford private counsel. Representation matters. I am running for judge in family court to make our family court system more fair and unbiased. Parties should be heard and treated fairly regardless of ability to pay for counsel.
Do you feel that existing diversion initiatives and specialty courts are effective in meeting the needs of the community? What changes would you make to improve their effectiveness?
The current diversion initiatives and specialty courts are a fair starting point and provide alternatives to prison. Those programs could be more effective with more funding and shorter waiting periods. Many people are held in custody for weeks, sometimes months, waiting for a placement due to lack of funding and resources. Additionally, there should be more programs with less strict requirements for acceptance. The court system needs more creative programming from a holistic approach to provide long-term support to people in the community. The state could model other jurisdictions that provide more social services and community resources to those in need, especially those suffering from drug addiction an mental health diagnoses requiring counseling, medication management, and long-term support.
What value does cash bail bring to Nevada’s judicial system?
None. In theory, cash bail is supposed to ensure that a person returns to court. In practice, the wealthy are able to post cash bail on serious offenses while the poor languish in custody on petty offenses because they cannot afford to post any amount of bail. This practice is unfair. Based on the recent Jimenez-Valdez court opinion, before setting cash bail, courts should determine whether the amount set will be attainable for the individual defendant. Courts should have hearings to determine if detention is the least restrictive way of managing flight risk and community safety concerns.
In light of Nevada’s move to legalize recreational marijuana, what is your position on vacating convictions of individuals for marijuana possession?
Per the judicial canons, judicial candidates are prohibited from making public statements that could give the appearance of partiality or bias, especially due to the non-partisan nature of judicial elections. As a judge I would follow the laws as they stand today. Our legislators should be encouraged to support policies vacating convictions of individuals for marijuana possession now that Nevada has legalized marijuana and considering that the legal marijuana sales business is a billion dollar industry.