Please join us as we invite the following judicial candidates for a meet n greet. The mixer will take place today, March 11, 2016 from 4:00pm – 6:00pm at the offices of Black & LoBello.
District Court Judge Joe Hardy
Judge Joe Hardy is the District Court Judge in Department 15. He was appointed to the bench by Governor Brian Sandoval.
Joe is a third-generation Nevadan who graduated from Boulder City High School. Joe was accepted to Brigham Young University (BYU) with a full tuition scholarship. He remained at BYU for law school and graduated cum laude. Upon graduation, Joe returned to Las Vegas and now lives in Henderson with his wife and two sons.
While in law school, Joe externed for Judge Lloyd D. George here in Las Vegas. That was a great experience and first planted the seed or thought for him to one day become a judge. Joe is currently the co-managing partner of the Las Vegas office of Gordon & Rees—one of the 100 largest law firms in the country. Notably, he represents individuals and business entities in all types of civil litigation, both as plaintiffs and as defendants.
Joe is an arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau. Until recently, he served on the Taxicab Authority board as well. His experiences on that board and as an arbitrator have given him extensive training in making tough but fair rulings and decisions based on the law and evidence—just like he will be called upon to do when elected as a judge. Joe has always volunteered for pro bono work and has also done extensive volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America.
Recently, Joe was recognized for the second year in a row as one of the top 100 attorneys in the Mountain States by his peers in Super Lawyers Magazine.
District Court Judge Eric Johnson
Hon. Eric Johnson is District Judge for the Eighth Judicial District Court, Department XX, in Las Vegas, Nevada, handling both criminal and civil matters. Governor Brian Sandoval appointed him as a judge in May 2015.
Prior to his appointment, Judge Johnson joined the United States Department of Justice in 1983 through the Attorney General’s Employment Program for Honor Law Graduates and prosecuted cases involving domestic and international organized crime, RICO, violent crime, fraud, narcotics, money laundering and forfeiture. Judge Johnson was a Special Attorney with the United States Department Justice, Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, and an Assistant United States Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada, serving 10 years as Chief of the Office’s Organized Crime Strike Force and then two years as Chief of the of the Office’s Criminal Division. He was twice honored with the Department of Justice’s Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and received commendations from the Tokyo (Japan) Public Prosecutor’s Office and Ministry of Public Safety, People’s Republic of China, for his work with multi-million dollar international money laundering and forfeiture prosecutions.
Judge Johnson has been a past presenter at the Department of Justice’s National Advocacy Center and for its Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training and at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok, Thailand. He is a member of the State Bar of Nevada and the Kansas Bar Association. Judge Johnson earned his B.S. in Education degree from Emporia State University and his J.D. degree from the University of Kansas School of Law where he was a member of the law review and Order of the Coif.
Chief Judge Las Vegas Justice Court Joe Bonaventure
Joe Bonaventure was elected Justice of the Peace in Department 9 of Las Vegas Justice Court in 2004. Judge Bonaventure is a life-long resident of Las Vegas. He graduated from Bishop Gorman High School, the business college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the charter class of the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV. Thereafter, Judge Bonaventure worked as a law clerk to the Honorable Kathy Hardcastle in the Eighth Judicial District Court, as a deputy with the Clark County District Attorney’s office, and as an attorney in private practice with the law firm of Bonaventure & Goldstein before taking the bench in 2005.
Judge Bonaventure, who was elected to a second term in 2010, served as Vice Chief Judge from January 2011 through December 2014. At a special judges’ meeting in August 2014, the judges of the Las Vegas Justice Court unanimously selected Judge Bonaventure to be the Court’s next Chief Judge for a two year term beginning in January 2015. In addition to the Chief Judge duties, Judge Bonaventure currently presides over the Q calendar and the Justice Court DUI Treatment Court and is a member of the Judicial Council of the State of Nevada Committee to Study Evidence-Based Pretrial Release.
Judge Bonaventure previously served as chair of the Court’s Criminal Process Committee; was a member of the Judicial Council of the State of Nevada Specialty Court Funding Committee; and presided over extradition, civil, DUI, and full-time criminal caseload calendars. During his 11 years on the bench, Judge Bonaventure has presided over several high profile cases attracting national attention, including the O.J. Simpson robbery preliminary hearing and the Paris Hilton possession of cocaine case.
Judge Bonaventure’s duties as Chief Judge include: presiding over administrative matters and judges’ meetings; supervising court administrators, managers, referees, and pro-tem judges; appointing committees of judges and court staff; and acting as the Court’s liaison with other governmental and civic agencies. Las Vegas Justice Court hears traffic matters, misdemeanor non-traffic cases, civil cases, small claims cases, summary eviction cases, and requests for temporary protective orders; the Court also determines whether felony and gross misdemeanor cases have enough evidence to proceed to District Court for trial.
Judge Suzan Baucum
Judge Suzan Baucum is the Justice of the Peace in Department 13 of Las Vegas Justice Court. After law school, Suzan returned home to Nevada to begin her professional law career. She joined a private practice where she handled criminal, personal injury, real estate and general business law.
In addition to her work in private practice, Suzan also served as a State Training Specialist, Staff Attorney, and faculty member for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges from 1989 to 1991. In this role, Suzan administered national training programs and continuing education for juvenile and family court judges and appellate and state Supreme Court justices on how to handle child and spousal abuse and neglect cases.
She also developed a video series to train judges, social workers and lawyers on how to implement the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act and monitored 12 ongoing model court programs. From 1989-91 she served on the faculty for the National College of Juvenile and Family Law where she provided training programs for juvenile and family court judges in conjunction with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
The Nevada State Supreme Court created the Nevada Law Foundation (NLF) in 1983 as a non-profit organization designed to provide a means for legal representation to those victims who are legally disadvantaged, victims of domestic violence, children in need of protection and senior citizens.
After nearly a decade in existence, the Nevada Law Foundation (NLF) was underfunded and unable to accomplish the mission set by the Supreme Court. In 1991, Suzan was offered and accepted the position of Executive Director and the challenge to reform the NLF.
Suzan understands the legal community, has the ability to raise funds, and develops strong relationships. Her success is evident by the amount of grants distributed and the thousands citizens served by NLF. By 2007 and 2008, the NLF was able to distribute over $900,000 in grants – 37 times what it was able to do its first year. In 2009 over $1,000,000 in grants were raised and distributed which helped thousands of persons in need.
Judge Karen Bennett
Judge Bennett is a native Nevadan. She graduated from Western High School, received her Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia and received her Juris Doctorate degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law.Judge Bennett clerked for the Honorable Thomas Foley and thereafter served as Assistant Federal Public Defender, District of Nevada. She engaged in the practice of private law from 1991-96, in the areas of criminal defense, municipal finance and housing. She was also General Counsel to the Las Vegas Housing Authority and associate bond counsel for the Clark County School District.In 1996 Judge Bennett accepted the full time position of General Counsel for the Las Vegas Housing Authority, where she worked until her appointment to the Las Vegas Justice Court Bench.In May 2002, Judge Bennett was appointed to the Las Vegas Justice Court Bench, and became the first African American female appointed to the State’s justice system at any level. Since the May, 2002 appointment to the bench, Judge Bennett was elected by the voters in the Las Vegas township in November 2004 and re-elected in November, 2010. She served as the Las Vegas Justice Court Chief Judge from January 2011 through December 2014.Her professional and civic affiliations include the Las Vegas Chapter National Bar Association, National Bar Association Judicial Council, American Bar Association, American Judges Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and The Links Incorporated.
Harmony Letizia for Las Vegas Justice Court, Dept. 3
Having been born and raised in Las Vegas, Harmony Letizia has deep roots in the Las Vegas community, and has dedicated her career to public service. Indeed, Ms. Letizia currently serves as a Senior Attorney at the Clark County Public Defender’s Office. In that position, Ms. Letizia represents indigent persons in various criminal proceedings, and ensures that these indigent persons are afforded their constitutional rights. Ms. Letizia was recently recognized by her peers as a top 25 government attorney in the State of Nevada in the 2015 edition of Nevada Business Magazine’s Legal Elite.
Ms. Letizia has held various leadership positions in the Las Vegas community. For example, Ms. Letizia served on the board of the alumni association for the Meadows School for several years where she helped increase alumni-school relations. Ms. Letizia is also a graduate of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Las Vegas class of 2014. Leadership Las Vegas is Southern Nevada’s premier executive development program.
Prior to embarking on her career in public service, Ms. Letizia obtained her Juris Doctor with a concentration in Litigation from the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. While there, Harmony received several honors and awards including the Dean’s List, Honors Scholarship Recipient, Moot Court Scholarship Recipient, and the Frank Harper Achievement Award. Moreover, during law school, Ms. Letizia also served as a judicial extern to the honorable Michael A. Cherry at the Nevada Supreme Court in Carson City, Nevada, and as a teaching assistant to the Honorable Richard Suhrheinrich from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Before law school, Ms. Letizia attended the University of Arizona, where she was a Dean’s List Honorable Mention, an Honor Society Member and a member of the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority. As a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi, Ms. Letizia held various leadership positions, and served as Administrative Vice President, Scholarship Chairman, and Alumni Ambassador. Ms. Letizia was also an Order of Omega Greek Woman of the Year Finalist.
Ms. Letizia also previously served as a Congressional Staff Intern to Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, where she conducted research on constituent-related issues concerning Transportation and Infrastructure, Veteran’s Affairs, and Yucca Mountain.
Jeff Rogan for Las Vegas Justice Court, Dept. 6
Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeff Rogan has dedicated his entire career to protecting the safety and security of this community – and will continue to do so as Judge.
Jeff is a talented and experienced criminal prosecutor. He is currently assigned to the Gang Prosecutions Unit, where he stands up for victims against the most violent gang members in our neighborhoods. Before joining the gang unit, Jeff served with distinction in the Domestic Violence Unit, where he protected battered women and men by diligently prosecuting their abusers.
Jeff has successfully prosecuted cases before all courts of Nevada, including the Nevada Supreme Court. He has also served the rural areas of our community by prosecuting crimes in the outlying courts of Clark County.
Well-regarded by prosecutors and defense attorneys alike, Jeff is considered an honest and ethical advocate for the people of Clark County. He believes that every citizen has the right to live in a safe, crime-free neighborhood, and is the only candidate who has fought for the victims of crime in our courts.
Based on his experience and reputation in the legal community, Jeff has been asked to provide training and continuing legal education to law enforcement and other attorneys. He is also part of the State Bar’s mentorship program for new attorneys.
A graduate of Boston College Law School, Jeff worked for two years in the school’s Legal Assistance Bureau. There, he advised senior citizens on legal matters and protected the indigent from illegal evictions. For his commitment to serving the community as a prosecutor, he received the school’s Edward T. Bigham Public Service Award.
Before law school, Jeff graduated from Bucknell University magna cum laude, with honors. For his outstanding academic achievements and good moral character, Jeff was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s most prestigious honor society, in 2001.
Jeff belongs to the Clark County Bar Association, the Clark County Prosecutors Association, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. Additionally, Jeff is a member of Leadership Las Vegas, the premier executive development program in Southern Nevada, sponsored by the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Jeff is proud resident of Downtown Las Vegas, where he lives with his wife, attorney Alison Brasier, and their two dogs.
Amy Chelini for Las Vegas Justice Court, Dept. 14
Amy is a native Nevadan and values the history of our state. She carries with her the trait that exists in many Nevadans, that you can accomplish anything through willpower and tenacity provided you are ethical and honest with people.
While growing up in Las Vegas, Amy followed in her mother’s footsteps and took up competitive tennis at a young age by taking lessons at the Desert Inn Hotel. It was the start of what would become a budding tennis career. Later, Amy spent a year of high school at The Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, the same place where Las Vegas legend Andre Agassi had previously trained. After returning to school in Las Vegas, Amy won the State Doubles Championship. She graduated from Bonanza High School in 1990.
Amy then attended the University of Nevada, Reno, graduating in 1995 with a B.A. in Communications and a minor in Political Science. Upon graduation, it was time for Amy to decide what she wanted to do with her life.
Coming from a family with a strong law enforcement background, Amy was naturally attracted to the law. Her brother Andy, who recently retired, was an officer with Metro for 30 years ending his career as a Sergeant in the northwest area command. Her other brother Chris is a domestic violence detective with the Omaha Police Department. Her father became an officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department upon his retirement from the Nevada Test Site. Although the men in the family were police officers, it was the matriarch of the family, JoAnne, who was the foundation.
Recently, Andy’s two sons, Mitch and Jake grew up to graduate from the police academy here in Las Vegas, as well. In addition, Amy’s sister, Renee, has worked for the State for 25 years and her current job is Social Services Manager for Investigations and Recovery for the Department of Welfare and Social Services. Her job requirements include processing fraud cases and working with the District Attorney’s Office to prosecute welfare fraud.
After graduating college, Amy went off to Santa Clara University Law School. She served as a member of the Moot Court Trial Team, traveling around the region practicing courtroom skills in front of prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys. It was the kind of training that exposed her to all sides of the law, a theme that would emerge later in her career. She graduated law school in 1999 and decided to return to her hometown of Las Vegas.
Upon her return, Amy took a job at the Clark County District Attorney’s Office under Stewart Bell. While there she wrote appeals and prosecuted criminal cases, gaining invaluable experience while learning how the law works from the angle of those who enforce it. While at the DA’s office, Amy was also given an opportunity to work in the civil arena. Being told by Mr. Bell that should she wish to return, the door will always be open, she took the opportunity to work in a new area of the law. Amy realized her calling was to practice law in the courtroom, not depose witnesses in a conference room. It was this realization that led to Amy beginning her own firm. She began working alongside former attorney and current municipal court judge Martin Hastings and in May 2001, she hung her shingle at the Law Office of Amy Chelini where it remains today at 630 S. Seventh Street.
During her years of managing her own law firm, Amy developed a stellar reputation in the legal community for her knowledge of the law, her commitment to her clients and her understanding of the court system. She is also respect for being very ethical. She has developed the experience that is well suited for the judicial position she is seeking. In fact, the majority of her practice is in justice court where she focuses on misdemeanor trials, preliminary hearings and felony bind overs. Amy practices almost full-time in front of the court where she is running to be a judge.
In addition to her commitment to excellence in her professional career, Amy has involved in helping many people in our community. One of Amy’s greatest passions is helping out our returning veterans. She believes we have a duty to assist returning servicemen and women, because of the sacrifices they have made for our country.
Amy is a regular contributor and volunteer to the “Ask-a-Lawyer” clinic to assist veterans at the Veterans Administration. Veterans often struggle with issues like traffic tickets that go to warrant and other factors that not only affect their livelihood, but their liberty as well. Amy has assisted veterans in resolving these cases so that they can continue contributing to our society. Furthermore, she has participated in broad-based community efforts to collect food, clothing and supplies for homeless veterans living in Veterans Village in downtown Las Vegas.
Amy’s commitment to help others goes beyond our veterans, she regularly contributes her time to the GiveBackMondays program run by Siloh Moses that feeds the homeless, sometimes 500 people in a night, on the streets of Las Vegas and also provides clothing, hygiene products and valuable information to these same people who want to turn their lives around.
Additionally, Amy is a financial supporter of many charities in the valley including the Red Cross, NSPCA, Kaleidoscope of Hope and the Nevada Cancer Institute. Both of Amy’s parents passed away from cancer, so those causes are especially close to her heart.
Amy is now ready to take the next step in her career by taking her experience and temperament to the bench. She will bring a unique balance of experience to the bench as someone who has worked on both sides of criminal cases. She is a former Clark County prosecutor and is currently criminal defense attorney. This balance of experience gives her the necessary perspective to seek and weigh justice in every case. She has also handled a variety of civil cases over the years and she will bring that experience to the bench as well.
Ozzie Fumo for Assembly District 21, Democrat
A first-generation American, Ozzie Fumo has lived in Las Vegas for over 40 years. He is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School, the University of San Diego, and holds a law degree from Whittier Law School.
A defense attorney, Ozzie Fumo is a partner at Pitaro & Fumo, a small business well-known in the Las Vegas community for their professionalism and aggressive litigators. Ozzie specializes in criminal defense for over 20 years, and has been assigned high profile cases and clients.
Ozzie often serves as a legal analyst for local television stations, as a legal expert in the Las Vegas Review Journal, and is one of the few select members of the community to sit as a Judge on Metro’s Police Use of Force Board.
As a lawyer, Ozzie Fumo maintains the highest rating (“AV Distinguished”) by an attorney rating service for a criminal defense attorney. He is admitted to all levels of the State Court in the Eighth Judicial District, practices in the United States Federal Court District of Nevada, and has argued successfully in the Ninth Circuit court of Appeals.
Today, Ozzie is married to Ellen Fumo, they have five children, four girls and one boy. Thanks to his many years in the state, Ozzie knows the challenges working families face firsthand and will go to Carson City with a long-term vision for Nevada.
Ozzie and his family have lived in the district since 1999.