Heidi Almase

Heidi Almase

Photographs provided by candidates or their campaign committees.

Heidi Elizabeth  Almase

for Family Court Judge Department X

 

Candidate contact information:

Email address: Heidi@HeidAlmase4Judge.com

Phone number: 702/580-9622

Facebook: Heidi Almase for Family Court Judge, Dept. X

Twitter: NA

Website: HeidiAlmase4Judge.com 

 

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 have been honored to serve the Las Vegas community for the past 20 years, first as a state police officer, later as a prosecutor and as a former City of Las Vegas judge. Having dropped out of high school and, as a result, having to work hard to get ahead in life, I strongly support both service and helping others. The court-system can be a complex and stressful place to navigate. In addition to public service, I believe a compassionate judge who listens while following the law, can make a huge difference in the outcome of any single person appearing in front of them. This was my guiding principle during the six years I spent on the City bench.

 

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?

 

The seat I am running for, Family Court, Department X, does not issue decisions related to Roe v. Wade. Further, as a judicial officer/candidate, I am bound by the Nevada Revised Code of Judicial Conduct which explicitly prohibits any judge/candidate for stating their political beliefs and/or how s/he would rule on a particular issue. If elected, I will exercise judicial restraint and uphold the law.

 

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?

 

The seat I am running for, Family Court, Department X, does not issue decisions related to issues set forth in the listed case. Further, as a judicial officer/candidate, I am bound by the Nevada Revised Code of Judicial Conduct which explicitly prohibits any judge/candidate for stating their political beliefs and/or how s/he would rule on a particular issue. If elected, I will exercise judicial restraint and uphold the law.

 

Do you believe that Brown v. Board of Education (347 U.S. 483) was correctly decided?

 

The seat I am running for, Family Court, Department X, does not issue decisions related to issues set forth in the listed case. Further, as a judicial officer/candidate, I am bound by the Nevada Revised Code of Judicial Conduct which explicitly prohibits any judge/candidate for stating their political beliefs and/or how s/he would rule on a particular issue. If elected, I will exercise judicial restraint and uphold the law.

 

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?

 

As a former City judge I explicitly recognized the gender identity presented by the individual before me and will continue to do so.

 

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.

 

Newman plaintiffs sued Piggie Park under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The owner of Piggie Park, the head of the National Association for Preservation of White People, was argued to exclude African Americans from his Piggie Park restaurant. The owner of Piggie Park argued his religious beliefs precluded the mixing of white and African American races. The United States Supreme Court eventually heard the case which granted attorney fees and costs on the grounds that few people would seek federal relief if they had to bear their own fees and costs, i.e., as an access to justice issue.

 

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?

 

 

I have not been presented with this issue as an attorney, prosecutor or elected judicial officer.

 

 

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?

 

The seat I am running for, Family Court, Department X, does not issue decisions related to evictions. Further, as a judicial officer/candidate, I am bound by the Nevada Revised Code of Judicial Conduct which explicitly prohibits any judge/candidate for stating their political beliefs and/or how s/he would rule on a particular issue. If elected, I will exercise judicial restraint and uphold the law. I can state, as a former City judge, I was often presented with individuals who had excessive traffic fines, fees and assessments (in Nevada, traffic matters are criminal and can result in actual jail time). I used my judicial discretion in those situations to offer individuals the option to do community service close to home, cognizant that many people did not have transportation options and/or child care coverage that allowed them to travel to the courthouse or other City-approved work locations to do community service work. I also created the Serious Traffic Offender Program which sought individuals who had many traffic matters (which almost always includes high fines). The program was developed to encourage good driving patterns but to deal compassionately with huge financial assessments which can ruin individuals and de-stabilize their families.

 

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?

 

 

The seat I am running for, Family Court, Department X, does not issue decisions related to immigration. Further, as a judicial officer/candidate, I am bound by the Nevada Revised Code of Judicial Conduct which explicitly prohibits any judge/candidate for stating their political beliefs and/or how s/he would rule on a particular issue. If elected, I will exercise judicial restraint and uphold the law.

 

 

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.

 

 

In my personal experience, I have never seen nor been apprised of any federal immigration officer detaining an individual following a criminal hearing over which I presided. My personal context would be as a judicial officer for the City of Las Vegas. During that time, individuals who were arrested could be subject to immigration holds but that hold period was supervised by the responsible detention facility. My obligation in that particular circumstance was to set reasonable bail or, if the person was eligible, to issue an own recognizance release.

 

 

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?

 

 

The seat I am running for, Family Court, Department X, does not issue decisions related to this issue. Further, as a judicial officer/candidate, I am bound by the Nevada Revised Code of Judicial Conduct which explicitly prohibits any judge/candidate for stating their political beliefs and/or how s/he would rule on a particular issue. If elected, I will exercise judicial restraint and uphold the law. With these provisions in mind, I used my judicial discretion to be a strong supporter of diversion programs. To that end, I started the City of Las Vegas' first Mental Health Specialty Court which sought to identify those persons with mental health issues, get them out of the jail system and into stable housing, with oversight to include medical and clinical case management. During its first year of operation, the Mental Health Court won national recognition from the National Alliance on Mental Illness for creative care. I also presided over adult drug court and the traffic court mentioned above.

 

 

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?

 

 

One of the most important issues is criminal justice reform. To that end, I was appointed by Justice Hardesty to participate in the Nevada Pre-Trial Release (bail reform) Committee while I was a Las Vegas Municipal Court judge. Bail reform recognizes there exist significant disparities in outcomes for those who are unable to post bail and, therefore, remain in custody. Specifically, if a person meets certain identifiable criteria demonstrating they are a good candidate for own recognizance (OR) release, they should be released. Bail or bonds should be reserved for the most serious cases and where a person has a history suggesting they are not a good candidate for OR release. Further, the Committee acknowledged the ability to post cash bail or seek a bond could disproportionately impact those with less financial resources. I am proud of my service on this Committee and of our Nevada judges for taking these steps to modify our bail and bond system.

 

 

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?

 

 

As a former Las Vegas Municipal Court judge, I presided over three specialty/diversion programs two of which I created. I presided over the HOPE Court, a substance abuse diversion program for adults age 26 and older and I created the City's first mental health diversion program as a well as the traffic program referenced in prior sections. Most of us realize you cannot arrest the mental illness or addiction out of a person. However, by placing folks who have addiction and/or mental health issues in custody, you can cause further destabilization. In my experience, many people who entered into diversion programs got better and did not re-offend. This comes as a wonderful assistance to family members who may be emotionally and financially drained and as a significant savings (in jail time and related costs) to the tax payer. I am strongly in support of diversion programs particularly for our most vulnerable citizens, those with mental illness. One of the largest challenges for diversion programs is cost. Almost all diversion programs rely on financial support from the Nevada Administrative Office of Courts and grant dollars. Additionally, our rural courts - who often have less treatment resources than our urban areas in Clark and Washoe counties - must compete for these dollars.

 

 

What value does cash bail bring to Nevada’s judicial system?

 

 

The cash bail system (and related bond system) have been under reform in Nevada for approximately five years now. In my personal experience, I have seen individuals who need to get out of custody to keep their jobs and homes, post bond and/or bail for release. However, this does not mean their fines (or suspended jail sentences, if they have them) go away particularly if they posted bond. As a result and in my experience, this can become a revolving door issue with a person coming in and out of custody rather than addressing any case requirements (assuming a conviction or plea).

 

In light of Nevada’s move to legalize recreational marijuana, what is your position on vacating convictions of individuals for marijuana possession?

 

 

The seat I am running for, Family Court, Department X, does not issue decisions related to this issues. Further, as a judicial officer/candidate, I am bound by the Nevada Revised Code of Judicial Conduct which explicitly prohibits any judge/candidate for stating their political beliefs and/or how s/he would rule on a particular issue. If elected, I will exercise judicial restraint and uphold the law.

 

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