Nevada Supreme Court Seat C candidate questions

Jerry Tao

Jerry Tao

Elissa F. Cadish

Occupation: Eighth Judicial District Court Judge, Civil Criminal Division, Department 6

Age: 54


Record of Service: I have been a District Judge since 2007, hearing civil and criminal cases. I was also the probate judge for 2 years. I also hear administrative appeals and appeals from municipal courts and justice courts.

Education: B.A. with Honors in Political Science, University of Pennsylvania; J.D., University of Virginia School of Law

Brief statement about your platform: There are two main points to my platform: 1) Fair and consistent application of the law; and 2) Decreasing the time to decision and more published decisions. First, as a Justice, my rulings will always be based on the facts, the law, and what is just. This is the way I have approached the cases before me as a District Judge, always ruling based on the merits of the case, not the race, religion, socioeconomic status, or political clout of the attorneys or the parties before me. I am absolutely committed to the rule of law, and thus the law must be applied fairly and consistently to all parties and nobody is above the law.

Second, now that the Court of Appeals has been in place for a couple of years, the Nevada Supreme Court must resolve the cases before it more quickly, and recognize the impact on people’s lives when cases remain pending for years without a resolution. I also look forward to issuing more published decisions which have the effect of binding precedent and thus will lend consistency and predictability to litigation at the trial level once we know what the law is in a particular area.

Describe a time you learned something invaluable that will help you if elected?

As a District Judge, I presided over a habeas petition by Fred Steese, a man who was convicted of murder over 20 years ago and was serving his sentence in prison. Before this conviction, Fred was a drifter who had been convicted of a few crimes, but no violent offenses.

In Las Vegas, he met a man who trained poodles for a show at Circus Circus. Fred lived with him briefly and then moved on and traveled to other states around the west. After Fred moved away, the dog trainer was found stabbed to death in his home, and Fred became a suspect. He voluntarily returned to Las Vegas to speak to the police, and denied committing the murder. After lengthy questioning by the police, which was not recorded, Fred signed a confession to the murder. Once being assigned an attorney, he maintained his innocence. His attorneys presented alibi witnesses, but the jury did not believe them and convicted Fred.

When the petition came before me, his attorneys presented substantial evidence in the form of documentation showing that Fred had been in Idaho at the time of the murder. At the end of the evidentiary hearing, I found that Fred was actually innocent of this murder. He was released from prison shortly thereafter, and recently was pardoned by the State Pardons Board, with all seven sitting Nevada Supreme Court Justices and Governor Sandoval voting in favor of a full pardon.

My experience with this case brought home the importance of the job of a judge, and the need to examine in detail each and every case that comes before me with an open mind. I also need to respect the presumption of innocence in each case. This experience will help me if I am elected to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Jerry Tao

Occupation: Judge, Nevada Court of Appeals

Age: 50


Record of Service: Appointed as Judge, Nevada Court of Appeals, in 2014 by Governor Brian Sandoval; appointed as Judge, Eighth Judicial District Court, in 2011 by Governor Brian Sandoval; earned retention rating of 86 in 2014, the fourth-highest rating among 32 judges; previously served as Deputy District Attorney, Deputy Public Defender, and civil attorney representing small businesses.

Education: J.D., The George Washington University Law Center, with honors, 1992; B.S., Cornell University, 1989

Brief statement about your platform: Since becoming a judge on the Nevada Court of Appeals in 2015, I have participated in handling 3,500 appeals, which makes me the most experienced candidate in Nevada history to ever run for Supreme Court. The Constitution is the greatest document ever conceived by man, and I strongly believe that judges should enforce the Constitution as written and not make law from the bench. In this race, I’m proud to have been endorsed by Attorney General Adam Laxalt, State Senator Michael Roberson, the Clark County Prosecutors Association, the National Rifle Association, Nevada Right to Life, and numerous business and legal groups.

Describe a time you learned something invaluable that will help you if elected?

I believe that judges should always be ready and willing to learn, because a judge who thinks he knows everything is likely a bad judge whose mind is closed to new information. As an appellate judge, my job is to listen and understand, not to force my own personal views on litigants and lawyers, and during my years on the Court of Appeals, with jurisdiction over the entire state, I’ve learned much about the different ways that people all over the state live and work, as well as much about how our laws impact people who live in different communities in very different ways. A law that makes perfect sense in Reno or Las Vegas may be a very poor fit for Nevadans who live in Ely or Winnemucca, and judges should be careful to understand the differences in order to understand the true impact of the decisions they make across our state.


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