Regional Justice Center Administrator Speaks OUT!

Regional Justice Center Administrator Speaks OUT!
By Steve William Sanson

On September 1, 2007, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chuck Short Regional Justice Center Administrator. Short was born in Munich West Germany to an Army Lieutenant and raised in Western Pennsylvania, moving to Las Vegas in 1973. Short graduated from Clark High School, graduating from UNLV. Short’s work experience includes the following: worked for General Motors, worked in the budget office for Clark County and appointed to administrator in 1993, in 2005 there was a court executive officer position created and Short was appointed to this position and six months ago Short was also appointed as clerk of the court.

Short’s function is CEO for the court system, some of these responsibilities include: sending out documents for jury selection, oversees court security, oversees mediation, oversees self help center, oversees planning facilities and implements public policy that are given from the Judges who are members of the board. Short reports to this board made up of Judges. Short stated the there are about 1200 employees that work at the Regional Justice Court.

When building the Regional Justice Center Short explained that two additional floors were requested for future growth yet only one additional floor was added. Short stated that they will outgrow the Regional Justice Center by 2010. They are looking at the parking lot across the street to build an additional building.

The board would like to move Family Court into the Regional Justice Center. The Regional Justice Center already provides the following: City Municipal Court, Las Vegas Justice Court, Small Claims, Gross Misdemeanor Felony, District Attorneys Office, Bad Check Unit and the list goes on.

When asked about the coroner inquest Short stated that he only provides the logistics such as security, court room, and jury.

Short explained the appointment of judges is a process that is set up by the constitution, stating that there is an application process; interviews are conducted after a background investigation is completed and three names are given to the Governor for the final approval.

I asked Short about Chief Justice Court Judge Douglas Smith and Pro-Temp Judge Jim Gubler on the frequency of their names for appointment to District Court and not being picked. I was curious to know why a sitting judge and a pro-temp judge still have not received an appointment for the Governors approval. I know the process is a difficult one, but a red flag was raised in my perception why these two individuals have not been selected.

Short explained the bills that have been submitted to create more judges to the Nevada Legislature for approval. The Nevada State Legislature has approved six judges that will take office in 2009, (five family court and one civil/criminal court judge). Short also explained that criminal cases are growing by 10 percent per year stating that post 9/11 has changed the way we police our community and more arrests are being made because of this.

Short explained that Family court will house three new judges and the Regional Justice Center will house three new judges on the 10th floor. Short stated that the business court will be moved to the 11th floor of the Phoenix building. Short explained that during the remodeling efforts at Family court has two family court judges that will relocate to the Regional Justice Center this fall.

Short explained there will be a permanent location for Small Claims Court coming this fall. Short also stated that no judges will be assigned to Small Claims Court, but there might be a Las Vegas Justice Court Judge that will be involved more in Small Claims Court early 2009.

Short explained that there are not enough court reporters to do court reporting this is the reason why they have moved to modern technology by using the audio and video.
Short stated that total revenue for Las Vegas Justice Court is $44 million ending this fiscal year for traffic citations and filing, $25 million that was taken in by traffic citation alone and an additional $12 million dollars in District Court filing fees totaling around $55 million.

Traffic citation fees have rising during the past year, (60% of the money goes to the county general fund for emergency responders and UMC and 40% goes to the state of Nevada).

Short stated that there is no evidence of ticket fixing existing in the Regional Justice Center. Las Vegas Justice Court Judges receive 14 thousand cases per year 3-4 times more than judges in other states.

Short stated in January 2009 the District Court Judges will start making $160, 000 base pay which was approved by the Nevada Legislation. It was also recommended that the Justice of the Peace have their pay increased to $153,000 to be in effect January 2008 if approved by the Clark County Board of County Commissioners.

Short explained that there is no bill in the Nevada Legislation to increase the Small Claims court but it is under discussion. Short also explained that there are discussion in expanding the arbitration program in District Court.

Chief Justice Kathy Hardcastle is in charge of the District Court and Chief Justice Douglas Smith is in charge of the Justice of the Peace. Both of these judges sit on a Committee that selects outside criminal defense attorneys to represent conflict of interest cases with multiple defendants.

Short explained that Judge Elizabeth Halverson breached security when she had her two bodyguards by pass security, making the court take a hard look at security procedures and guidelines implementing changes with the Regional Justice Center.

I was impressed with the honesty and the straight forward answers that were given to me by Chuck Short. I hope that this article will give you a better understanding about our legal system and its plans for the future.

Note: You can listen to the archived broadcast of Sanson’s interview with Chuck Short at http://www.AllTalkRadio.net. Scroll down to “Face the Tribune” and click onto Full Program, then look for Show Archives on your right and click onto September 1, 2007.

E-mail: SteveWSanson@cs.com phone (702) 283-8088

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