Election Guide: Washoe Court judges

Cynthia Lu
From mediated settlements between the Washoe County School District and outgoing-Superintendent Pedro Martinez to halting firefighter layoffs at the city of Reno, judges in Washoe County often have a big impact on local issues.

But more often than not, voters know little about the people who presiding over local courtrooms.
This year, there are 10 judicial candidates vying for a seat in Washoe County District Court, Nevada’s second judicial district. Six are running for family court seats. Four for general jurisdiction. Here’s a breakdown of the races and people running in them.
Department 5
In the race for Department 5candidates one candidate, Cynthia Lu, is touting previous job experience as court master — a position with judicial powers counter-signed by a sitting judge — while her opponent Cliff Young is touting litigation experience.
For three years, Lu has served as a court master, processing hundreds of cases in family court.
“The biggest difference is I’ve been in private practice and she has been a public employee,” said Cliff Young, Lu’s opponent in Department 5.
Lu spent 20-years as a Washoe County attorney. And her position as court master — a position that makes family court decisions with final approval from a sitting district court judge — could prepare her for the bench.
“I’m very cognizant of people accessing family court and trying to make it practical and easy as possible,” Lu said.
Young says his 30 years practicing in Northern Nevada, his extensive association with community outreach programs — such as Nevada Bicycle Advisory Board and the Reno and Regional Transportation Commission 2030 and 2040 Steering Committees — gives him a broader skill set for family court.
Department 6
In the Department 6 race, Reno attorney Lynne Simons says she has a broader skill set than her opponent.
Candidate Doug Rands disagrees.
“I think it is courtroom experience,” said Rands, who has practiced law since moving to Reno in 1987. “She’s done mostly probate, I’ve done litigation.”
Rands does have litigation experience, but Simons says she has the experience needed for being a judge, specifically citing her work in private mediation and three years as a court master from 2004 to 2007 in Washoe District Court.
“If I had to ID two differences, my experience is more diverse and wider,” Simons said. “More types of matters. More types of trials.”
The Commission on Judicial Selection named Simons among the top three finalists for two recent vacancies in Washoe District Court.
Rands said having a civil law background is more important than criminal justice experience. Rands said his legal work has been in litigation, personal injury, civil rights and contract issues — “the gambit of civil cases.”
The winner of this race replaces Judge Brent Adams, the longest sitting judge in Washoe District Court.
Department 8
Reno attorney Keith Tierney definitely has an uphill battle against one of the most respected Washoe County District Court judges.
Stiglich not only is an incumbent, but she is also one of the highest rated judges in this year’s Washoe County Bar Association survey.
Prior to her appointment from Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval in 2012, Stiglich served as founder and managing partner of Stiglich and Hinckley, LLP, a law firm that focused on federal and state litigation.
Tierney has 30 years legal experience and practices on behalf of elder clients on a pro bono basis in cases involving guardianship, eviction and debtor rights.
He also says he’s one of the first men to serve as president of Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada and Northern Nevada Women’s Lawyers Association.
But as of June filing, Tierney had raised $3,900 to Stiglich’s $116,083.
Department 11
Then there’s Department 11, easily the most contested race of all the judicial elections this year.
Sitting-judge Chuck Weller doesn’t rate well in the Washoe County Bar Association’s judicial survey. However, he has the endorsements from a majority of family court attorneys, something his opponent says he obtained through fear of retribution.
Weller has called that allegation a baseless attack.
Caren Cafferata-Jenkins resigned last week as the executive director of the Nevada Commission on Ethics after a public integrity complaint alleged she used her office to further her campaign. The Nevada Attorney General’s office has not confirmed or denied the status of the complaint, but the commission has confirmed its existence and the former employee has provided the Reno Gazette-Journal a copy of the complaint.
Cafferata-Jenkins, the former principal of Jenkins Law Office in Reno, Carson City and San Francisco from 2001-2009, says Weller has drug her through the mud.
Weller, who was first elected to Department 11 in 2004, says Cafferata-Jenkins is a desperate candidate. He has defended his work on the bench, saying he handles about 2,000 cases each year and has never had his decisions reversed on appeal.
Local attorneys and political analysts have called this one of the nastiest judicial campaigns in recent history.
Department 14
While David Humke has name recognition as a sitting Washoe County commissioner and former Nevada Assemblyman, his opponent, John Springgate, has many attorney endorsements and what appears to be a big edge in financial contributions.
As of June, Humke reported $550 in campaign contributions and has yet to file an update. Meanwhile, Springgate reported $99,671.04 as of this week.
“The big issue is keeping bulk of the cases going,” Springgate said.
Humke did not return repeated phone calls or emails for comment.
Department 5
Name: Cynthia Lu
Age: 47.
Current job: Washoe County Family Court Master.
Experience: 20 years as Washoe County attorney; received 4.4 out of 5 performance score as court master from the Washoe County Bar Association’s judicial survey and 92 percent retain rate.
Education: John Marshall Law School.
Major endorsements: District Attorney Richard Gammick; Sheriff Michael Haley; former Nevada Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa.
Interesting fact: In 2011 received governor’s arts award for excellence in folk and traditional arts as a member of the Reno Taiko Tsurunokai drum ensemble.
Website: http://www.luforjudge.com.
Name: Cliff Young
Age: 56.
Current job: Private attorney in Reno.
Experience: 30 years legal experience in Northern Nevada; started as Deputy Reno City Attorney before entering private practice primarily in family law.
Education: University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.
Major endorsements: Says judicial candidates shouldn’t seek endorsements.
Interesting fact: Young says he was the first Nevadan to receive the Activist-Supporter Award from the Nevada Bicycle Advisory Board.
Website: http://www.young4judge.com.
Department 6
Name: Lynne Simons
Age: 52.
Current job: Private attorney in Reno.
Experience: 25 years as lawyer, mediator and consultant; served for three years as Washoe County Court master/probate commissioner.
Education: Pepperdine University School of Law.
Major endorsements: Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick; Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley; Reno Police Protective Association.
Interesting fact: Seeing her grandfather, Max Jones, on the bench as a Douglas County Justice of the Peace inspired her judicial ambitions.
Website: http://www.lynnesimonsforjudge.com.
Name: Doug Rands
Age: 55.
Current job: Private attorney in Reno
Experience: 27 years practicing law, mostly litigation, in Nevada.
Education: J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University.
Major endorsements: Northern Nevada Central Labor Council; Veterans in Politics; Professional Firefighters of Nevada.
Interesting fact: Moved to Reno in 1987 after graduating law school and getting a job as a law clerk.
Website: http://www.dougforjudge.com.
Department 8
Name: Lidia Stiglich
Age: 44.
Current job: Washoe County District Judge, Dept. 8.
Experience: Prior to her appointment from Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval in 2012, Stiglich served as founder and managing partner of Stiglich and Hinckley, LLP, a law firm that focused on federal and state litigation; co-chair of the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee.
Major endorsements: Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto; First Lady Kathleen Sandoval; Reno and Sparks mayors.
Education: University of California, Hastings College of Law.
Interesting fact: Stiglich played on the University of California, Berkeley softball team and reached the NCAA College World Series.
Website: http://www.judgestiglich.com.
Name: Keith Tierney
Age: 64.
Current job: Private attorney in Reno.
Experience: 30 years legal experience; practices on behalf of elder clients on a pro bono basis in cases involving guardianship, eviction and debtor rights.
Major endorsements: Darby Law Practice, Hartman and Hartman and the CFO Group Inc.
Interesting fact: Takes pride in formerly serving as president of Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada, member Northern Nevada Women’s Lawyers Association and chairman of Good Will Industries
Website: http://www.keithtierney.com.
Department 11
Name: Chuck Weller
Age: 62.
Current job: Washoe County District Judge, Dept. 11.
Experience: Served as a Reno attorney for 21 years before winning election 2004 in Department 11 where he has since served.
Education: the law school at Georgetown University School.
Major endorsements: Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto; Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley; both Reno and Sparks mayors.
Interesting fact: Judge Weller writes, publishes and speaks on Nevada history and is credited with bringing Admiral Halsey’s saddle, a World War II artifact, back home to Nevada.
Website: http://www.judgechuckweller.com.
Name: Caren Cafferata-Jenkins
Age: 56
Current job: Resigned Thursday as the executive director on the Nevada Commission on Ethics.
Experience: Practicing attorney; served as Nevada Commission on Ethics executive director for five years; former principal of Jenkins Law Office in Reno, Carson City and San Francisco from 2001-2009.
Education: Golden Gate University School of Law.
Major endorsements: No endorsements; did not ask because of position on ethics commission.
Interesting fact: Among 16 plaintiffs — eight gay couples — who brought Nevada marriage equality lawsuit that led to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision last week to strike down Nevada’s amendment prohibiting gay marriage.
Website: http://www.cafferata-jenkinsforjudge.com.
Department 14
Name: David Humke
Age: N/A
Current job: Washoe County Commissioner.
Experience: More than 25 years legal experience; serving as chief Judge in Tribal Court.
Education: Masters of Social Work
Major endorsements: Humke did not return phone calls for endorsement list.
Interesting fact: Served as a Nevada Assemblyman and first executive director of the Children’s Cabinet.
Website: http://www.davidhumke.com.
Name: John Springgate
Age: 55.
Current job: Private attorney in Reno.
Experience: works in family and criminal law; served as Judge Pro Tem for Sparks Justice Court since 2010 and Reno Municipal Court since 2004.
Education: McGeorge School of Law.
Major endorsements: Mayor Bob Cashell; former Nevada Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa; Peace Officers Research Association of Nevada.
Interesting fact: Avid duck hunter, member of Nevada Waterfowl; competed nationally in fencing, 1977-2011.
Website: http://www.johnspringgate.com.
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Washoe judicial candidate Caren Cafferata-Jenkins alleges opponent Judge Chuck Weller intimidated lawyers

judge chuck wellerBy Emerson Marcus, RGJ

A Washoe judicial candidate alleged Wednesday her opponent — a sitting judge — intimidated attorneys for endorsements.

Caren Cafferata-Jenkins said during the Washoe County Bar Association Family Court debate that family court attorneys endorsed Washoe Judge Chuck Weller in fear of retribution.

“Unfortunately, 90 of the nearly 100 family court lawyers have endorsed Chuck Weller, and a large number of those people have revealed to me that they have endorsed Judge Weller — taken a sign — because they fear retribution,” Cafferata-Jenkins said at the debate Wednesday at Harrah’s Reno during a bar association luncheon.retal

Intimidation wasn’t necessarily intentional, but a judge appearing at an attorney’s home asking for an endorsement is hard to decline when you need to appear in their court, Cafferata-Jenkins said.

Weller called the allegations baseless attacks.

“She doesn’t live, work or vote in Washoe County,” said Weller of Cafferata-Jenkins’ residing in Carson City. “She doesn’t know family court lawyers here very well. If she did, she would not imply that they are afraid to speak their minds. Then again, I can see why she is trying to divert attention from her lack of endorsements and headline news.”

“With her multiple problems, I’m not surprised by anything she says right now,” said Weller, alluding to Cafferata-Jenkins’ announcement Monday that she is stepping down as the executive director of the Nevada Commission on Ethics.

Cafferata-Jenkins said she resigned after an integrity complaint filed by a disgruntled former investigator of the commission brought undeserved criticism to the commission and questions on whether the executive director can run for public office.

Cafferata-Jenkins argues judicial candidates fall under the jurisdiction of the Judicial Discipline Commission, not the commission on ethics. Nevada law says the position is prohibited from being “actively involved in the work of any political party or political campaign.”

After the debate Wednesday, Cafferata-Jenkins told the Reno Gazette-Journal that she has received phone calls from family court lawyers apologizing to her for endorsing Weller.

“This race is getting personal,” said Eric Herzik, political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. “Nobody is saying Weller is unqualified, but the basic statement is he is a jerk in court.”

On Wednesday, Weller was asked about the Washoe County Bar Association’s biennial judicial survey. Weller received the lowest retain rate (59 percent) and performance score (3.5 out of 5) among all 15 Washoe County District Court judges.

Members of the bar association conduct the survey of attorneys they appear before.

“My opponent has made a big deal about the Washoe County Bar Association survey and I suppose on some level it’s fair, but she omits a couple of facts,” Weller, who was first elected judge in 2004, said during the debate. “Only 58 people (attorneys) participated in the Washoe County survey in my department and 60 percent of them recommended I be re-elected. I think those are important facts.”

Weller mentioned his family court attorney endorsements as something his opponent also omits when she alludes to the survey.

In the June 10 primary, Weller advanced to the general election in Dept. 11 with 41 percent of the vote. Cafferata-Jenkins received 33 percent and John Hope Jr., eliminated in the primary, 27 percent.

Source: http://www.rgj.com/story/news/2014/10/08/washoe-judicial-candidate-alleges-opponent-intimidated-lawyers/16941173/

Gay Judicial candidate Caren Cafferata-Jenkins resigns from Nevada ethics commission after scandal

judge chuck weller

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Gay Judicial candidate Caren Cafferata-Jenkins resigns from Nevada ethics commission after scandal

The executive director of the Nevada Commission on Ethics has resigned amid allegations less than a month before her judicial election Nov. 4.

Caren Cafferata-Jenkins, who has served as the commission’s executive director for five years, made the announcement Monday, saying she plans to resign Thursday.

Cafferata-Jenkins is running against Judge Chuck Weller in Department 11 in Washoe County Family Court.

Her resignation comes after Michael Lawrence, a former senior investigator for the ethics commission, filed a complaint against her in June that alleged she used her office at the ethics commission to further her campaign.

Ex-employee alleges ethics director (Caren Cafferata-Jenkins, who’s running against corrupt Judge Chuck Weller in Department 11 in Washoe County Family Court) violated Nevada law

karen jenkins

Caren Cafferata-Jenkins, running against Judge Chuck Weller in Department 11 in Washoe County

By Emerson Marcus, RGJ

A former Nevada Commission on Ethics investigator said he has filed a complaint with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office alleging the commission’s executive director broke the very laws she was appointed to enforce.

Caren Cafferata-Jenkins, running against Judge Chuck Weller in Department 11 in Washoe County Family Court, denies using her position as the executive director of the commission to further her campaign.

“I would deny that,” she said. “If there is a legitimate complaint that is brought to the state and investigated by an objective third party, justice will be done.”

“Disgruntled employees are sometimes right but sometimes credibility needs to be evaluated for what it is,” she said.

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto would not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

Michael Lawrence, the former Nevada Commission on Ethics investigator, presented a copy of the complaint to the Reno Gazette-Journal earlier this month. Lawrence, who was terminated from his employment with the commission in April, filed the complaint in June, according to the paperwork submitted to the RGJ, six days after Cafferata-Jenkins advanced to the general election in the June 10 primary.

It alleges that Cafferata-Jenkins used “state equipment, time, facility and employees for her own benefit” and printed campaign materials from office printers.judge chuck weller

“Essentially, Cafferata-Jenkins ran her campaign from state office, turning government facility into her own personal ‘Kinko’s,'” Lawrence writes in the report.

“I know it sounds crazy,” Lawrence said in an interview with the RGJ. “I told the commission, ‘You can think why I am doing it (has to do with losing the job), I don’t care, find out for yourself.’ I promise it will come out sooner than later and people will be surprised.”

Lawrence’s position as an investigator in the office was terminated and he has since been replaced, Cafferata-Jenkins said.

06.12.06_judge_chuck_weller_shot_by_sniper_in_reno_nevada_KGOThe Nevada Commission on Ethics is a legislative-executive commission responsible for enforcing the state’s government ethics laws.

Cafferata-Jenkins has applied for judicial positions in Washoe and Clark counties in the past, but this is the first time her name has appeared on a ballot.

Nevada law says the executive director of the commission “shall not pursue any other business or occupation or hold any other office of profit that detracts from the full and timely performance of the Executive Director’s duties.” However, the Judicial Discipline Commission overseas judges, not the commission on ethics, and because it is a nonpartisan race, judicial campaigns are not handled by the ethics commission, Cafferata-Jenkins said.

Cafferata-Jenkins is not the only member of the commission on an election ballot this year.

Jim Shaw, a former Washoe County Commissioner, has served on the commission on ethics since 2008 and is running against Veronica Frenkel for Washoe County School Board of Trustee in District F.

Nevada law also says members of the commission shall not be “actively involved in the work of any political party or political campaign.”

Shaw could not be reached for comment.

source: http://www.rgj.com/story/news/2014/09/29/ex-employee-alleges-ethics-director-violated-nevada-law/16455001/