03 Oct Vincent Ochoa
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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.
I have served for ten years as Judge in Dept. S Family court. When I first ran I had thirty years experience in every facet of Family Court, juvenile court, Abuse/Neglect court, child support court and guardianship.
After completing my education at Michigan State University and University of Notre Dame School of Law, I started my legal career in 1978 handling family, civil, and criminal cases as a law clerk for a Clark County District Judge.
My experience is not limited to family law; I have argued criminal cases of domestic violence and substance abuse/DUI, immigration and a range of cases at all levels from Municipal Court, Nevada Supreme Court, Federal Court, and appeals to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (the highest court in the western US).
As a family man, I bring common-sense understanding of family issues and experiences to the bench. I and my wife Debra have a wonderful marriage of forty-seven years and raised four children in Clark County. We have three granddaughters. Judge Ochoa has the respect of the legal community.
I was voted by my peers to serve as a member of the Board of Governors for the State Bar of Nevada from 2009 until taking the bench in 2011. This Board oversees the practice and policy of law in our state. I have earned positions on the State Guardianship Commission (2018 to present), Board of Directors for Southern Nevada Legal Service, Law Library Board of Directors (2007 to 2010) and Guardianship and Probate Judge (2018 and 2019).
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?
Court precedent should not be overturn absent compelling reasons for so doing. The doctrine of precedent, under which it is necessary for a court to follow earlier judicial decisions when the same points arise again, is indispensable to the due administration of justice.
The doctrine of precedent imposes a significant burden on the party requesting that a court disavow one of its precedents and a court generally will not disavow one of its precedents unless serious detriment prejudicial to the public interest is demonstrated. Mere disagreement does not suffice. Once a question has been squarely presented and decided by the US Supreme Court it should not be unsettled, except for very weighty and conclusive reasons.
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 Constitution's guarantee of equality means that a law cannot infringe on human dignity or justify disparate treatment of a group of citizens.
A law's practical effect should not impose a disadvantage, a separate status, or a stigma upon an individual's human dignity.
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.
This case is about a prevailing party in class action under Title II of Civil Rights Act who obtained injunctive relief against racial discrimination by owner of drive-in restaurants and sandwich shop-- were entitled, in absence of any special circumstances,-- to have ATTORNEY FEES included as part of costs to be assessed against respondents
The case was originally filed under U.S.C.A. § 2000a(a) Equal access
All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation--
ON THE GROUND OF RACE,COLOR RELIGION OR NATIONAL ORIGIN .
It would be difficult to extend to LGBTQ since the statute limits in the language of the statue to providing protection to individual bases on race, color religion and national origin not sexual orientation.
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 been involved in case where individuals were seeking a gender change on birth certificates or a name change on birth certificate to reflect the gender change, this was before the law changed to make it much easier to have these action done outside of court proceedings. In my cases the request were granted as they met the requirement of the statues.
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?
I do family law, so eviction to not come before me. But in general we need to provide more time to move if eviction are granted for families to find another place to live and to ensure the individual are provide timely and proper notice before the court hearing.
As usually, eviction is only a resulting issue from lack of mental health or financial resources.
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?
Need to make a very clean record of the reasons for the dismissal with complete detail and a Court Order fully reflecting the facts leading to the dismissal sign by both sides of the proceeding.
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.
I do not think that is the situation at Family Court. In any court, this type of situation only will ensure that more individuals will not appear in court, making it more dangerous for the community and resulting in even greater financial cost. In some cases victims of crime will not be helped
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?
Focus on the parents of children, and the schools. When I did juvenile court service most of the children were from single parents home. So keeping both parents involved, whenever possible, in a child's life would help to keep the children out of the juvenile system. Forcing parents to separate to obtain their green card is not a family best interest. Nor, is forcing individual to wait for years to obtain a green card thus inflicting unnecessary hardships and stress on families..
Provide alternative services in juvenile court including more mental health services in school and juvenile 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?
Bail reform is an important issues. Finding other methods to determine whether a person is a threat to the community and to ensure the person' s appearance at court besides cash bail.
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?
Yes, I believe these courts save taxpayer's money and provide more productive service to the community (at reduce cost) and the individual. These court actually make the community safe. Increase funding will save money over the present incarceration and return to community without additional services system..
What value does cash bail bring to Nevada’s judicial system?
It is the system we have now, which increase the cost to the individual and the community. By detaining many individual with minor criminal charges but without financial resources to pay cash bail, families are hurt, individual loose their jobs and we (the community) pay the cost for jails to detain for a minor act.
In light of Nevada’s move to legalize recreational marijuana, what is your position on vacating convictions of individuals for marijuana possession?
I believe it will have to, by statute, be removed or not be permitted to be used against someone in court proceeding. Currently simple possession conviction, years in the past, carry minimum weight.