03 Oct J MacDonald
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CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE RESPONSES
Please share briefly what inspired you to run for this office and why you feel you’re qualified for the position.
35 years of practicing law in Clark County, significant experience in family law, 5 children, 11 grandchildren, having been divorced myself, and believing that my life and professional experience make me uniquely qualified to be a family court judge.
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?
While these issues would never come before me as a family court judge, I believe in and support a woman's right to choose, with certain limited exceptions related to the gestational age of the fetus, and would oppose any effort to repeal Roe v.Wade.
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?
I support and applaud the decision in Windsor which held that DOMA's sole purpose was to discriminate against a class of people that certain state's sought to protect in "personhood and dignity". Windsor was a victory for humanity by ensuring that same-sex couples can't be treated one way by their State and another way by the Federal Gov't.
Do you believe that Brown v. Board of Education (347 U.S. 483) was correctly decided?
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?
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 v Piggie Park involved the issue of enforcement of Title II of the Civil Rights Act and the ability of a party who had obtained an injunction for relief under the act to obtain an award of attorney fees.
Although I am not personally aware of a case in which Newman was cited as precedent for enforcing nondiscrimination protections against members of the LGBTQ community, I believe the same grounds would apply.
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?
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?
This would not be an issue that will come before a family court judge, but the question is inherently difficult because you have to balance the contractual and economic rights of the owner with the equities of financially struggling families. Perhaps this question has never been more relevant than right now during the great Corona Virus pandemic. Our state government has stepped in with emergency measures to cease all eviction proceedings for a period of time during this unprecedented economic and health crisis, but this limited relief will be of little consolation to a great many Nevada's once the 90 day period expires and landlords can begin eviction proceedings again against tenants who lost their ability to pay rent through no fault of their own. Legislative relief is the only option for a long term solution, perhaps extending the time before a landlord can obtain a writ of restitution, giving families more time to see if they can secure new employment.
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?
Not applicable to family court judges
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.
Again, not applicable to the position I seek, but I am not a fan of this practice. Unfortunately the remedy lies at the federal level.
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?
Unfortunately none as these type of cases will not be before me in the family court.
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?
Use of cash bail to detain defendant's indefinitely without conviction. Bail reform is critically needed, and the recent Nevada Supreme Court decision in Valdez-Jimenez is a good start.
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?
This is an issue that applies to Judges in our Civil/Criminal departments, but I believe that our existing specialty courts and diversion initiatives are achieving good results, although probably not on a wide-enough scale. I would love to see the creation of a legal-laypersons committee to examine the effectiveness of the existing specialty courts and diversion initiatives and make recommendations for expansion and or improvement.
What value does cash bail bring to Nevada’s judicial system?
The purpose of bail is to ensure a person's appearance in court to answer to the justice system. The existing system of cash bail is unfairly discriminatory in application and serves to keep many people from lower economic backgrounds unfairly incarcerated during the pendency of their legal proceedings even if a more thorough investigation would have revealed that they were not a flight risk or threat to their community. Much reform is needed in this area, even to the point of eliminating cash bail except in the case of extreme situations or where the defendant is a clear danger to the community.
In light of Nevada’s move to legalize recreational marijuana, what is your position on vacating convictions of individuals for marijuana possession?
I would be in favor of vacating the convictions of persons who were convicted of possession of the amounts of marijuana now legal in the State of Nevada. For person's convicted of trafficking in larger amounts, I would want to examine each case based upon the underlying facts.