28 Apr Jessica Goodey
Las Vegas Township Justice Court, Dept. 6
Campaign Contact Phone: 7024693437
Please share briefly what inspired you to run for this office and why you feel you’re qualified for the position.
I believe the job of the legal system is to treat everyone—no matter their background or circumstance—with kindness, dignity, and respect. I also believe that our courts should function efficiently and effectively. Currently, the average time it takes one of my cases to get to trial is 3.5 years and after recently having a judge take six months to make a decision after the trial, I decided enough is enough. I am running for judge to ensure the process moves expeditiously and to make the lives of those in our community better through their interactions with our courts.
I have been in private practice for 12 years, nine of which I have spent as a small business owner. During that time, I have worked to gain experience in as many areas of law as possible, from business to personal injury to family law. My small business experience is especially unique and is something our current bench lacks. As a small business owner, I understand the full scope of the consequences of a judge’s actions or failures to act. But I also have seen firsthand the impact a court can have simply by constantly continuing a case over and over, exacerbating the hardship on the parties involved.
The department in which I am running is a civil law department, with different rules than the criminal law departments. My entire career has been dedicated to learning and mastering the civil law rules and cases, and I am ready to apply that experience to serving on the bench. In addition to my private practice, I have served as a Court-Appointed Arbitrator since February 2019, presiding over civil cases of less than $50,000. I have also served as a Las Vegas Alternate Judge since October 2019, sitting for more than 80 sessions, as well as serving as a Las Vegas Justice Court Justice Pro Tempore.
Describe your understanding of the courts’ responsibility to uphold precedent?
Whether precedent comes from the Nevada Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, it is essential that a court maintain its responsibility to uphold precedent. As an attorney, precedent is a significant part of how we counsel our clients in dispute resolution. It is what we base our requests for judicial remedy upon. Precedent exists because previous disputes have been litigated and resolved, and having an agreed upon basis allows all parties to begin their claim on an agreed upon playing field.
In what circumstances do the equal protection rights in 5th and 14th Amendments apply to same sex couples?
While it can be difficult to deal in absolutes, the equal protection rights in the 5th and 14th Amendments should apply to same sex couples in virtually every circumstance I can imagine. Equal protection is something that cannot be specific to any gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Equal protection means exactly that—no one person, group, or entity is entitled to more protection than anyone else. All people are created equal, everyone should be afforded fairness under the law, and that is something I intend to put into practice on the bench in every case that comes before me.
In Brown v. Board of Education, the court declared that the separate-but-equal standard was unconstitutional. Describe ways in which this decision is applicable in today’s society.
Brown is a seminal ruling in our country’s history because it has no doubt reached further than just our schools. We know this because segregation reached well beyond just our schools. True equality does not and will not come from separation or isolation, equality happens when all of us make an effort to integrate, collaborate, and respect everyone around us. Brown is very much applicable today because we continue to see attempts made, many times regrettably through our courts, to carve out special exemptions or privileges for certain groups and entities. What Brown should teach us is the way to a fuller, richer, more equal society is not through division, but rather through making sure everyone is afforded the same opportunities and treated with dignity and respect.
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 nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in places of public accommodation.
Nondiscrimination protections for those who identify as part of the LGBTQ community rightly exist to protect members of this community from being denied equal service or treatment at and in places that are open to the public. These protections are unfortunately necessary and should be enforced to the fullest extent possible.
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. However, the cases did not result in a lawsuit, and therefore I cannot disclose any information due to the attorney-client privilege.
If you were presiding over a Justice Court, what would be your approach to an eviction proceeding, and what would you consider before moving forward with the eviction process?
While the eviction process can be traumatic, the legal proceeding for an eviction is relatively straightforward. That being said, I am committed to running my courtroom in a way that addresses every case individually and takes into account what a verdict will mean to any and all who may come before my court. So while the legal process may be mostly straightforward, before moving forward with an eviction process, I would make sure the court considers the specific situation before it, which will undoubtably be unique to that individual and their family.
Hypothetical: you are presiding over a case in which the plaintiff is undocumented. Their defense attorney argues that their due process rights were violated by inadequate bail proceedings. How would the plaintiff’s immigration status factor into your decision as to whether or not their right to due process was violated?
Given the Canon of Ethics, hypotheticals can be a little tricky for a candidate to answer, but as someone who believes deeply in due process what I can say is that a party's immigration status should not factor into the decision at all. Whether due process rights were violated should be considered outside of whether a person is undocumented or not. I believe that everyone, no matter their circumstance, is entitled to due process protections.
In recent years, we have seen Immigration and Customs Enforcement detain individuals as they are leaving criminal court hearings. Would you allow this to occur in your courtroom?
In my courtroom, no. A defendant has every right to attend a hearing before a judge like anyone else, with the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven. And that right exists beyond immigration status. Unfortunately, the key in this question is the term “as they are leaving” the courtroom. Once a defendant leaves our courtroom, I do not believe a judge has much power to intervene in such a situation, no matter how that judge may feel personally about this tactic.
What do you see as the judiciary’s role in advancing restorative discipline practices for Nevada’s students?
I believe that restorative discipline can have a very positive impact, and I think one of the best ways the judiciary can support that is to step back, let that process run its course, and support it wherever possible. I am a firm believer in diversionary programs, and currently volunteer with the Clark County Law Foundation, which runs the Trial by Peers program. This program allows students to be tried by their peers, outside of the formal judicial proceedings, to learn from their mistakes without being forever marked as a criminal.
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?
There are a number of issues facing our state’s justice system, but one thing I come back to because it has been such a significant driver in my decision to run is simply how much time it takes so many of our courts to render a decision. Many of my clients come to me after one of the worst days in their lives. Now imagine being in that situation and then … nothing. Not for weeks or months, but for an average of 3.5 years. This may mean delaying certain treatment or rehabilitation, being forced to—or even being unable—to pay personal expenses. I find this unacceptable and while I may not be able to change it in every courtroom by myself, I most certainly change it in Department 6 when I am on the bench.
If you were presiding over a specialty court, what would be your approach towards diversion initiatives and how would you evaluate their effectiveness?
Diversion initiatives, rehabilitation, ways to keep recidivism down, these are all things I think we need to explore. As a nation, we make up only 5% of the global population, yet we have more than 20% of the world's prison population. If simply throwing people in jail was the solution, the numbers say that our country—and our justice system—would look far different than it does. I believe we evaluate the effectiveness of these programs in exactly that way, are they keeping people who do not need to be in jail out of jail and are they helping rehabilitate those who may have made a mistake and who are committed to turning their life around.
As an Alternate Judge in the Las Vegas Municipal Court, I have seen first hand the value and the success of diversion programs. While the Justice Court has some diversion programs, I would work to expand the existing programs as well as advocate for additional programs that can fill the gaps of our at risk population that is not currently being served.
What is your view on cash bail following the decision in Valdez-Jimenez v. the 8th Judicial District Court?
Valdez-Jimenez held that bail may only be imposed where it is necessary to reasonably ensure a defendant’s appearance in court or to reasonably protect the community. While this ruling may not have directly impacted cash bail, it reinforces the fact that the burden is on the state to prove that bail be required rather than less restrictive means. The problem with cash bail on the whole is that it disproportionately impacts certain segments of our community with ripple effects that can have a multitude of unintended consequences. Where I feel a court should be, especially after Valdez-Jimenez, is really looking at whether the state is sufficiently meeting its burden with regard to appearance and reasonable protection of the community before requiring bail, as opposed to proposing and adopting less restrictive means.
In light of Nevada’s move to legalize recreational marijuana, what procedures would you follow or what factors would you consider in vacating the conviction of an individual for marijuana possession?
I would follow statue and the law on this. However, I also believe this is something that may come up in our next legislative session, so there may be a change in what that law is, but either way, as a judge I would be required to follow the law in these matters.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade less than 50 years ago established a person’s right to abortion and reproductive freedom. While Roe is considered settled law, the right to reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy is hanging in the balance as states pass increasingly unconstitutional laws to challenge Roe in court regardless of precedent. Do you agree that Roe is settled law?
Roe is settled law. Unfortunately, that has not stopped those who would like to see it overturned from attacking our legal system with laws specifically designed to overturn Roe in practice if not in so many words. But I believe a woman’s health choices are between her, her family, and her doctor. I further do not believe that any attempt, through the courts or through legislative overreach, that would force women to become second-class citizens without the right to decide what is best for their own body would be constitutional.