Candidates for Carson City justice of the peace sparred on Thursday, with one of the challengers labeling the incumbent as a "rubber stamp."
Many of the luncheon crowd of approximately 50 people were on the defensive after candidate Ron Weddell introduced himself by citing a case in Justice of the Peace Robey Willis' courtroom where he believes he was wronged.
He referred to Willis as a "good ol' boy" and offered himself as an alternative to someone he said "just rubber stamps for the district attorney."
Willis said judicial canons don't allow him to discuss Weddell's case, but he did fight back, saying "I can accurately say the law is my job - not my hobby."
Willis added that 17 years on the bench have shown a record of "fair and unbiased" judgment with consistent "application of common sense." He also pointed to a lengthy record of community service.
Weddell stood before Willis last summer charged with assault with a deadly weapon and illegally firing a gun. After an evidentiary hearing, Willis sent the case to district court, where Judge Michael Fondi dismissed the charges, saying that Weddell's actions in attempting to make a citizen's arrest were legal.
District Attorney Noel Waters appealed Fondi's decision to the state Supreme Court and no decision has been made.
Several audience members used a question-and-answer session to delve into Weddell's background, which includes two arrests for suspicion of murder and one conviction - later reversed - for failing to file a legal tax return. Weddell was exonerated in one of the murder cases and the other was dropped.
Resident Karl Neathammer said Weddell's candidacy was a vindictive and immature forum to vent disagreement with Willis' decision against him.
"I don't think it's immature to want to take these people off the street," Weddell responded, referring to a man he tried to shoot during the unsuccessful arrest attempt. "I don't like doing it. I don't relish it."
Weddell is a Carson City businessman who works in large-scale development. His company, R. P. Weddell and Sons, employs more than 100 people locally, he said.
Willis, who moved to Carson City in 1969, has twice served on the school board, been an active member and president of the Nevada Judges Association and has been honored by several legal organizations. He has coached several sports and, previous to his current job, taught civics and history at the Stewart School before its closure.
"I am one of the few civics teachers in the country who got to apply what he was teaching in the classroom," he said.
Candidate Bill Kreider offered a simple one-minute introduction. He denied an accusation by audience member Day Williams that he decided to run only after receiving a last-minute call from City Clerk Alan Glover. He said the person who asked him to run wished to remain anonymous.
Kreider is a Los Angeles Police Department-retiree, probably best known for installing and operating the train that runs in Mills Park. He has lived in Carson City since 1975. "I've done a lot of judging people in my job," Kreider said, citing his law enforcement background.
The race among Willis, Weddell and Kreider is for Department 1. The Department 2 justice of the peace seat is held by John Tatro, who is running unopposed.
Thursday's luncheon was sponsored by the Carson Area Chamber of Commerce. Future forums will be Aug. 2 for wards 2 and 4 supervisor candidates and Aug. 16 for the District 40 Assembly race.