Interview – John “JP” Schlegelmilch, Candidate District Court Judge, Department 1
JOHN ‘JP’ SCHLEGELMILCH
(Running against Jack Kennedy)
This is an open seat previously held by retiring Judge Bill Rogers
Please post a short personal resume:
Following my graduation from Incline High School, I attended the University of Nevada – Reno where I graduated with honors. After graduation, I attended Willamette University for Law School where I graduated in the top ten percent of my class. In Law School, I was Captain of the Mock Trial Team and installed into the Order of Barristers. I attended on a Nevada W.I.C.H.E. grant/scholarship promising to come back to my home state to practice law.
Following graduation, I joined the Lyon County District Attorney’s Office in 1991. I started as the Civil Deputy District Attorney which was responsible in providing legal advice to the Lyon County Commission and all other boards and commissions in Lyon County, including local advisory boards. I was also responsible for handling the child support enforcement section of the office. In 1993, I moved positions to Criminal Deputy and following that, was appointed as Chief Deputy DA in 1995. During my time with the DA’s Office, I handled thousands of criminal case. I have experience at all levels of criminal law and have tried dozens of cases involving such matters as murder, including death penalty, sexual assault, child sexual crimes, robbery, burglary, and multiple other offenses. As part of my duties, I worked with the Juvenile Probation Department in prosecuting all levels of Juvenile Crime in the County and with Child Protective Services to protect children from abuse. I additionally worked closely with the District Attorney in managing the office staff and budgeting for the office.
In 2001, I decided to help people on a more individualized basis and opened my own private practice of law. For three years, I served as the Fernley City Prosecutor on contract with the City while maintaining my private practice. Since that time, my practice has given me diverse experience in many areas of the law. I have handled hundreds of cases for individuals in family law, including divorce, custody, visitation, guardianships, adoptions, child support, as well as business law, criminal, juvenile, real property, water rights, mining, local government, probate, estate planning, and many other areas. I have personally handled 40 jury trials and have prosecuted or defended hundreds of bench trials.
Since moving to Lyon County in 1991, I have been very active in the community. I was a member of the local Volunteer Fire Department, Rotary Club, Coach and President of the local Youth Baseball leagues, Varsity Soccer and Baseball Coach for the High School, President and Member of Lions Club and many other activities focused mainly on supporting our youth. For a full resume of all professional and community activities, please go to my website or go to my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jp4judge?ref=hl&ref_type=bookmark .
1. This is an open position. Define your strengths and why you would better serve Lyon County in this position than your opponent.
Last year alone, 1,583 cases were filed in the District Court. Of the cases filed, 27% dealt with Criminal Law and Juvenile Justice, a staggering 55% dealt with Family Law, 5% Probate, 4% Contract Law, 2.5% Real Property and Water Rights and the other 6.5% of the cases filed involved other areas of Civil Law. These statistics tell the story that a District Court Judge must have significant experience in all areas of the law and specifically in those areas where the Court sees the majority of their work.
I have practiced in Criminal, Juvenile and Family Law which accounts for over 80% of the cases filed in the Third Judicial District. My opponent has practiced primarily in personal injury and workers compensation/unemployment law which represents only about 2% of the filings and has very little experience in other areas of the law. There are a number of significant cases coming before the Court for trial immediately following the New Year. One of my strengths is my knowledge of how to conduct a jury trial from inception to end and be prepared with all the tools necessary to conduct a trial from the bench. I have in depth knowledge of constitutional law as it relates to evidentiary issues that will need to be addressed during trial.
It is important to have a district court judge who has extensive trial experience that can bring solid evidentiary skills and trial knowledge to the bench. However, it is equally important to have a judge with excellent character who will preserve the integrity of our jury process, work hard, and be dedicated to the rule of law without regard to outside influences.
For the last 23 years, I have had the honor of practicing mainly in Lyon County splitting my time between civil and criminal law. I have tried hundreds of cases to completion, including 40 jury trials. I have had a very diverse client base, which has enabled me to gain extensive experience in all facets of the law, including probate, family law, business litigation, mining, water, and, of course, criminal litigation as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. My experience across these areas of practice vastly outweighs my opponent.
I know that experience, in itself, is not enough to be a good judge. Character and integrity, both professionally and in your community, is a necessity. Professionally, I have received nine pro bono awards due to my dedication to access to justice. Three times, my office has been named Law Firm of the Year by Volunteer Attorney’s for Rural Nevada for our volunteer work in improving the legal profession. Likewise, I have strived to improve my community through my work with the Lions Club, the Walker River Basin Communities Foundation, Walker River Baseball, and many other community organizations.
Each person before the Court needs to be treated with dignity and respect, that is the only way to provide for a fair, efficient and unbiased judicial process. I believe in hard work and will be dedicated to the public through transparency and accountability and increased access to justice to ensure that each person can have their day in court.
2. What are the primary responsibilities of a District Court Judge? Define your philosophy in regards to the role of a District Court Judge.
I would bring to the court a conservative judicial philosophy believing that a Judge should apply the law and not participate in judicial activism. I would treat each person before the Court fairly and without bias. I firmly believe that a judge should not be a politician, but a servant to the people and the laws they enact. A judge should not make law, but enforce the law as directed under the Nevada and U.S. Constitutions. People deserve a Judge that makes a decision without the additional and costly expense of multiple unnecessary court appearances or mediation appointments. A Judge should not have to learn from the bench, but should have the necessary knowledge and experience to make decisions at the time he is elected to the bench. I believe in hard work and am dedicated to the community. For years I have worked on an individual basis with victims of crime to insure that their rights come first.
The District Court is the primary trial court in the County. It deals with a multitude of legal issues, including all gross misdemeanor and felony criminal cases, all family law cases (divorce, custody, visitation, support, adoption), all cases relating to real property and water rights, all estate matters (probate, guardianships, trusts), any civil matter where the amount in controversy is in excess of $10,000.00, all state and local government cases, contract cases, and all Juvenile cases.
It is the primary responsibility of the Judge to ensure that the court is managed to provide access to justice in a fair, efficient and professional manner. The judge is responsible for the court staff and must ensure a good working relationship to foster and develop programs that will improve the efficiency of the court, allow all those who request it their day in court and process cases without undue delays. I believe that the Court is an arm of the people it serves. As a judge, I would be committed to continuously improving the services available to the public to make the system more friendly for the average person. The Court needs to be available and accessible to all persons. There has been a large amount of filings by people without representation, especially in family law matters. One of the things I would do if elected would be to find an expedited way to process cases where the litigants are unrepresented.
Another responsibility of the judge is to oversee and manage juvenile cases. I see this as a major issue as the judge is directly responsible for the management of all levels of the juvenile justice system, including the Lyon County Juvenile Probation office. The judge needs to set clear times for juvenile cases and communicate those with the Sheriff to allow a quicker and more efficient rendering of the case. The current process is cumbersome and relies on too many layers of bureaucracy. We need to fast track juvenile cases to get the kids in front of the judge immediately to impress on them the nature and scope of their actions.
Another responsibility of the judge is to render orders and opinions quickly once a matter is heard. The judge is responsible to make sure that its orders are clear and understandable. In order to do that, the judge must be well versed in the area of law he is dealing with. No person wants to wait for weeks for the judge’s decision. I would strive to resolve cases quickly through hard work in doing my job to decide the issue before the court.
3. As a District Court Judge, what do you believe would be your three or four greatest challenges and how would you address them?
IMPROVING THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM: Recently, I spoke to another concerned Lyon County Parent that has had the same experiences that I have been hearing about for a number of years. His child rightfully got into trouble and the case sat for five and a half months before the child was summoned to court. By that time, it was all but forgotten for the child. According to the concerned Father, he has been frustrated with a system that doesn’t address juvenile problems immediately. By the time he got to court with his child, the child expected and received no real sanctions for his unlawful actions. This is not an isolated incident.
One of my pledges to you is that the Juvenile Delinquency problem in Lyon County will be addressed immediately. The only true way to address the rising problem of Juvenile Delinquency is to let these kids know that they will not get away with the crimes they commit, I will put in place procedures to get them in court immediately and punish them appropriately.
I would work with Juvenile Probation, the Lyon County Sheriff, and the DA’s office to put in place a fast track system on all Felony and Gross Misdemeanor level offenses to ensure that these kids are brought before the court within 2 weeks of charging a delinquent act.
I will deal with kids now to impress on them the severity of their action, not 6 months down the road.
In speaking with members of the Lyon County School Board, I have found out that truancy continues to climb in Lyon County at record levels. Truancy leads to crime, drug usage, and delinquency.
I will take a leading role in working with law enforcement and the school district in fighting the problem head on. The Juvenile Court needs to be proactive – not reactive – to the truancy problem.
By failing to be proactive on truancy, we are failing our kids. I would join the sheriff, community leaders, and school board to get these kids back in school where they need to be.
IMPROVING ACCESS IN FAMILY LAW CASES: There has been a large increase in cases filed without an attorney. This is especially true in family law cases when dealing with divorce and custody issues. The Nevada Supreme Court has focused on trying to streamline the process; however, their focus has been mostly on cases where the parties are represented by counsel. Some of the rules that have been adopted are complex and not exactly easy to deal with when you’re looking at the legal system for the first time. Some of these cases can last for years simply because a non-represented party doesn’t know what steps to take next.
I would develop a program that would get these parties the access they need to a judge to get their cases decided in a timely and effective manner. In many of these cases, the Court will be deciding issues that are mainly focused on custody. It is important, especially for the children, to have stability while their parents are going through the process. In custody cases, I would get the parties in Court to explain their positions as early as possible in the case, and hopefully within a couple of weeks from their appearance in the case. The quicker custody issues are resolved, the quicker these cases are usually disposed of. The quicker cases are disposed, the less animosity there is between the parties, especially when working toward the best interests of their children.
ADMINISTERING THE COURT IN A FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE MANNER: “Reduce every department to economy, and there will be no temptation to them (public officials) to betray their constituents.” –Thomas Jefferson to Archibald Stuart, 1799. FE 7:378
It is every public official’s responsibility to guard public money. In doing so, we need to be accountable to the public for every dime spent in the fulfilment of our duties and obligations to the public. As District Judge, I will hold myself accountable to the citizens of Lyon County for every expenditure made in office. Instead of throwing money at problems, the first question that should be asked is whether there is a way to provide the same or better service without any impact to the taxpayer. The Court, just like any other government institution, should find way to improve efficiency. Recently, the Court has taken some steps in a positive direction with the developing case management system, electronic filing system and access to public records. Now, we need to further reexamine how the Court does business to further improve management of the Court without sacrificing fiscal responsibility.
4. It is a long campaign season. Many accusations and assertions are made by candidates. Are there any specific charges or assertions made by your opponent, or others, that you feel are inaccurate or unfair that you would like to answer to?
I want to focus my campaign on what I can give back to the people of Lyon County, not on gossip or rumors that may or may not have originated with my opponent. I feel it would be a great honor to represent the people of Lyon County as their District Court Judge and have the knowledge, experience and work ethic to represent their interests in the Courtroom.
5. Please use this space to elaborate on any specific issue(s) of concern:
Being a District Judge is more than just occasionally sitting on the bench and pronouncing judgment. It is a full time job with full time responsibility to the citizens of Lyon County. There are thousands of cases that need to be addressed. My first efforts would be to address the backlog of cases, especially those dealing with children and the elderly. I would roll up my sleeves and start work immediately to look for better approaches to access our court. I will work hard to run a fair and efficient courtroom and respect the position of each person before the Court. I will do the homework necessary to be prepared and ready when cases are before me and rule in a timely manner. “Justice delayed is justice denied.” Samuel Clemens
I would be honored to be Lyon County’s next District Court Judge.
I have asked Republican candidates in selected Lyon County races to participate in an online interview.
The interviews are posted in full, unedited as submitted, on NewsDesk (www.ndbynd.com) and all other GOP associated websites that wish to do so. The responses will be emailed to the membership of each organization, with reposting of any interview by interested parties strongly encouraged.
The purpose of these interviews is to allow our Republican candidates the opportunity to state their positions in their own words, describe how they differ from their opponent’s positions and why they would better serve their local government better than their opponent.
Nancy Dallas, Publisher/Editor NewsDesk (Est. January 2003)