28 Apr Rhonda Forsberg
Court of Appeals, Dept. 1
Campaign Contact Phone: 702-990-6468
Facebook: Judge Rhonda Forsberg for Nevada Court of Appeals Department 1
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 this office because Nevada families matter. The State of Nevada deserves an appellate judge that has judicial experience and diverse legal knowledge. As a family Judge, I handle cases that contain almost every type of legal issue. In addition to domestic issues, a Family Court Judge has to have a breadth of legal knowledge. A divorce matter can include, criminal issues, personal injury , bankruptcy, business organizations, trusts, wills, probate and tax issues. In addition, prior to going to Law School, I worked in the insurance industry for approximately 20 years. My experience both on and off of the bench will be a valuable asset to the Nevada Court of Appeals.
Describe your understanding of the courts’ responsibility to uphold precedent?
In the absence of proper laws, the judges need to do whatever they can to insure that the rulings of judges remain consistent from place to place. Precedent is incorporated into the doctrine of stare decisis and insures that courts apply the law in the same manner to cases with the same facts. The goal of upholding precedent is to ensure that individuals in similar situations are treated alike instead of based on a particular judge's personal views.
In what circumstances do the equal protection rights in 5th and 14th Amendments apply to same sex couples?
In United States v. Windsor (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Defense of Marriage Act’s (DOMA) provision excluding same-sex married individuals from the definition of spouse violated the protections afforded by 5th Amendment and was thus unconstitutional. In a majority delivered by Justice Kennedy, in which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision that DOMA’s exclusion of same-sex married couples from the definition of spouse was unconstitutional.
In 2015, facing a circuit split, the Supreme Court resolved the question of whether state bans on same sex marriage violated the Equal Protection and/or Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. In Obergefell v Hodges, a five-member Court majority concluded that the bans did violate the 14th Amendment.
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.
The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling laid the foundation for all kinds of social reform for today's society. Not just regarding race, but all groups of people. It was a pivotal case with long lasting societal ramifications.
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.
Public accommodation nondiscrimination laws protect LGBTQ people from being unfairly refused service, denied entry to, or otherwise discriminated against in public places based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Public accommodation laws generally cover anywhere someone is when they are not at home, work, or school, including retail stores, restaurants, parks, hotels, doctors’ offices, and banks etc.
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?
Every case is significant to the litigants involved. I have handled many cases, that involved sexual orientation, gender identity and discrimination at the trial level.
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?
As a sitting judge and a candidate for Nevada Court of Appeals it would be inappropriate to discuss how I would handle any particular type of case.
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?
As a current District Court Judge and a candidate for Nevada Court of Appeals it would be inappropriate to discuss how I would handle any particular proceeding.
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?
As a Nevada Court of Appeals judge, that would not be an issue that I would likely face.
What do you see as the judiciary’s role in advancing restorative discipline practices for Nevada’s students?
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) has been at the forefront of the School-Justice Partnership Project. The purpose of the project was to enhance collaboration and coordination among schools, mental and behavioral health specialists, law enforcement and juvenile justice officials to help students succeed in school and prevent negative outcomes for youth and communities. The judiciary has a duty to the community to help keep kids in school and out of the courts.
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?
Access to justice. The Eighth Judicial District Court has worked very hard at trying to improve access to justice, through the self-help centers. On the bench I strive to be clear and explain the process when self-represented litigants are before me. One of the biggest problems in access to justice is understanding the legal process. As a judge it is imperative to provide clear direction of what is required of litigants to move their cases forward.
If you were presiding over a specialty court, what would be your approach towards diversion initiatives and how would you evaluate their effectiveness?
Specialty Courts in Nevada have been extremely successful. There is no way to capture all of the value that specialty courts offer to Nevada. There currently are cost savings analysis that have compared the effectiveness and the savings to society. The financial savings has been immense. They include increase public safety, reduction in criminal recidivism, restores positive community involvement, and improves quality of participants lives. Effectiveness is not only a fiscal proposition, but the impact that the program has on the individual and their families. Evaluation of effectiveness needs to consider by financial and non-financial benefits to society.
What is your view on cash bail following the decision in Valdez-Jimenez v. the 8th Judicial District Court?
The Nevada Supreme Court made it clear that "the right to reasonable bail is guaranteed by the Nevada Constitution for individuals who commit offenses other than capital offenses or first degree murder." That the judge must consider the financial condition of the individual pursuant to NRS 178.498 and consider the factors of NRS 178.4853. The judge may only impose bail if the State proves by clear and convincing evidence that it is necessary to insure the individuals appearance at future proceeds or that it is necessary to protect the safety of the community.
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 the procedures as outlined in NRS 179.271.
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?
The law is always evolving. That is why it is crucial to thoughtfully select our judiciary.