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A look at the candidates for Justice of the Peace

Name: Steven Morris

Age: 53

Occupation: Attorney

Residency in BC: Lifelong resident of BC, approximately 45 years, with absence for missionary service and school.

What made you decide to run for justice of the peace?

A desire to continue serving my community in a position that I have been interested in for some time, but lacked the desire to campaign for the position and much less the desire to run against someone I believed was doing a very good job, in Judge Victor Lee Miller. Even though Judge Miller has decided to retire from the position I still lack the desire to campaign. I am not a politician and cannot bring myself to ask for money, endorsements, or support in this race. I am opposed to candidates for judicial positions having to be politicians, but this is our system and I accept that.

Furthermore, I understand that my feelings and position will result in a de facto voluntary withdrawal in this race even though my name will remain on the ballot.

Why do you feel you are the best person for the position?

All candidates in this race are qualified to serve as the justice of the peace and each brings unique traits and abilities. I do not feel that I, or for that matter, any of the candidates are the best person for the position. Each candidate has their own ideologies and approach to conserving the peace, and while one of those candidate’s background and ideology is concerning to me, especially as it relates to the Drug Court, I will support whomever the electors decide who their next justice of the peace will be.

For more than 50 years, the same person has held both the position of justice of the peace (Clark County/Boulder Township, an elected office) and the position of Boulder City municipal judge (appointed by the city council). If elected, do you expect to also be appointed? What do you see as the role of justice of the peace?

I don’t expect to be elected and likewise wouldn’t expect to be appointed. While the justice of the peace for Boulder Township and the Boulder City municipal judge are separate and distinct offices, they can and have been filled by one individual, as authorized by statute and the authority vested in the city council. I believe a candidate’s “expectations” are irrelevant in this process. The role of justice of the peace is a statutory one. “The justices shall be conservators of the peace in their respective townships, and shall discharge such duties as may be prescribed by law.” NV Rev Stat §4.170. I believe a justice of the peace must believe in and adhere to the rule of law, and likewise believe that justice and compassion are not mutually exclusive.

Boulder City is a small community, as justice (and potentially judge), what do you do if a friend or family member comes before you?

There are multiple reasons why a judicial officer may have to disqualify or recuse themselves. The Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct governs this process, which is intended to promote, protect and preserve the final four words of the Pledge of Allegiance, “and justice for all.”

In the past decade, as drug addiction and overdose death rates have risen, the Drug Court has become increasingly important as a legal and recovery tool. How do you see the balance between meting out punishment on one hand and supporting rehabilitation on the other?

Our Drug Court was founded on the principal of compassionate justice, and when individuals make a sincere effort to overcome addictive traits and behaviors, I believe justice is compassionately served through the rigorous efforts of those individuals to overcome destructive addictive traits and behaviors. Accountability is an essential part of this process, and it further ensures that justice is served.

Name: Lauren Szafranski

Age: 35 years old

Occupation: Owner/Managing Attorney - Bluebird Injury Law

How many years in Boulder City: 32 years

What made you decide to run for justice of the peace?

I have always felt a strong sense of duty and responsibility toward my community and saw a judicial path within my legal career. That opportunity presented itself in January, when Judge Miller called me to let me know he would not be seeking re-election and that I should run because I would be a great justice of the peace. Holding the position of JP in a small community like Boulder City offers an opportunity to make a meaningful impact, uphold important principles of justice, and serve my neighbors in a direct and tangible way.

Why do you feel you are the best person for the position?

My qualifications uniquely position me to serve as the next JP for the Boulder Township. My background in complex civil litigation and prosecuting crimes in Boulder City equips me with the specific skills and knowledge necessary to navigate legal issues in our town. Public safety is my number one priority. I have built the strongest relationships with our local police officers, many of whom have expressed directly to me their support for my candidacy. Experience and age are not synonymous when discussing qualifications for this position. My legal experience spans over 12 years and is specific to both the law and crimes that happen within our township.

For more than 50 years, the same person has held both the position of justice of the peace (Clark County/Boulder Township, an elected office) and the position of Boulder City municipal judge (appointed by the city council). If elected, do you expect to also be appointed? What do you see as the role of justice of the peace?

I am running for the elected position of JP. While I am more than willing and capable of serving in both positions, that decision is up to the city council. We have worked under the guidance of one judge for many years and I believe it has been an effective form of justice thus far. The role of the JP and my priority is the effective administration of justice within the Boulder Township. Whether one person serves in both positions or the responsibility is shared with another, that has to be determined by evaluating the administration of justice within our community as a whole.

Boulder City is a small community, as justice (and potentially judge), what do you do if a friend or family member comes before you?

The cannons of judicial ethics state that a judge shall not allow family or friends to influence his or her judicial conduct or judgment. I will always want to avoid both impropriety and/or the appearance of impropriety in all proceedings where my judgment may be questioned. If needed I will recuse myself from cases when necessary.

In the past decade, as drug addiction and overdose death rates have risen, the Drug Court has become increasingly important as a legal and recovery tool. How do you see the balance between meting out punishment on one hand and supporting rehabilitation on the other?

The research surrounding recovery courts is ever-evolving and the goal is to reduce recidivism. I see the balance between punishment and rehabilitation through the lens of the best practices of recovery courts, this means taking into account each participant’s unique needs and triggers. There is not a one-size-fits-all to punishment or rehabilitation. Both forms of recovery have to be individualized and we are lucky to be in a small town where our participants are more than a case number. We want to assist and help our residents to be successful in both recovery and life.

The most cost-effective way to utilize the drug court to reduce recidivism is to focus on high-risk/high-need individuals. One of the main trumpet phrases you hear regarding best practices is that jail is not treatment. Unfortunately, there is approximately 30% of people that may reject treatment at all costs. Currently, we have over 50 graduates and I have worked with well over half of these participants during my last six years working with the program. Boulder City’s future and the rehabilitation of residents may be best served by additional treatment courts and services to address DUIs specifically, mental health and homelessness.

Name: Christopher Tilman

Age: 57

Occupation: Attorney, Owner of Law Office of Christopher Tilman

Years in BC. 1975-1984. 1993-1995. 2008-present.

What made you decide to run for Justice of the Peace?

I planned to run for justice of the peace when Judge Miller retired. I truly felt that it would be in six more years, but he called in January and said he would not be running for this term and he suggested that I file.

Why do you feel you are the best person for the job?

There are two considerations when voting in a judicial election. First, does the person have judicial temperament? I have the proper temperament to be a judge. I am level-headed and yet can be stern when necessary. Second, is the candidate qualified to be a judge? There is no question I am the most qualified person in this race. I have practiced criminal, family and abuse/neglect law for more than 30 years. I have been on the indigent defense panel in Boulder City Municipal Court since 1994. I am currently the Boulder City Drug Court defense attorney and have held that position for the last five years. Juvenile dependency is another area of practice for me. I have been on the Dependency Indigent Defense Panel since 2003. I have tried over 1,000 trials and preliminary hearings. I have also conducted hundreds of landlord/tenant disputes and Temporary Protective Order/Temporary Restraining Order hearings. I am also the Boulder City Municipal Court pro tem judge. In short, I have experience in all the types of cases in justice court for the entirety of my career. I have interviewed for and received seven endorsements, five from labor unions, one from a veterans’ group and one from the Nevada Republican Club. These groups agree that I am the most qualified for the position. For a complete list of accomplishments and endorsements please go to Tilman4judge.com.

For more than 50 years, the same person has held both the position of justice of the peace (Clark County/Boulder Township), and the position of Boulder City municipal judge (appointed by city council) If elected, do you expect to be appointed?

I don’t expect to be appointed to the Municipal Court position but it would make sense if I were. As the most qualified candidate and current pro tem Municipal Court judge and the Municipal Court Drug Court defense attorney for the last five years it would make for a smooth transition.

Boulder City is a small community, as justice (and potentially judge), what would you do if a friend or family member comes before you?

If a family member or friend comes before me the Cannons of Judicial Ethics mandates that if any contested or litigated matter is before a judge in this scenario, that judge must recuse himself. I would have no problem doing so.

In the past decade, as drug addiction and overdose death rates have risen, the Drug Court has become increasingly important as a legal and recovery tool. How do you see the balance between meting the punishment on one hand and supporting rehabilitation on the other?

The Drug Court Program is very successful and this program gets people sober! I absolutely want the program to continue and thrive. I am a member of the National Academy of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) and the model for the best approach between punishment (i.e. jail) and treatment is ever-changing. That is not to say being too harsh or lenient is the answer, rather there is a middle ground that must be pursued in Drug Court for the program to work. For the last five years I have worked in Drug Court as the defense attorney. The experience in this capacity is invaluable for a seamless transition from Judge Miller to myself being the judge.

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