(Susan Crawford) – I have recently discovered that there is an attorney who believes that she has what it takes to be a judge in one of the busiest courtrooms in the United States. Automatically, you would think that a person who thinks that they have what it takes to wear the black robe must possess significant experience as a practicing lawyer, right? You would never expect “judge-material” not to be able to read and understand the legal qualifications and prerequisites for the office, right?
In the case of Amber Candelaria, all those things you expect in a judge were no impediment to her pursuit of the black robe when she filed for Las Vegas Justice of the Peace this week.
A cursory review of Amber Candelaria’s qualifications reveals that she has been a licensed attorney for precisely 3 years and 3 months, having earned her license from the Nevada Supreme Court in October, 2006. The problem for Candelaria is that the law requires a lawyer to be “licensed and admitted to practice law in the courts of this State at the time of his election . . . for not less than 5 years.”
There it is, plain as day, right there in the law books, one you would have expected Ms. Candelaria to have read and understood before she filed for election.
There isn’t any lawyer trick or spin that can change the fact that October, 2006 to November 2010 doesn’t add up to 5 years of being licensed to practice law. Candelaria will have been a licensed attorney for less than 5 years at the time of the election, no matter how you compute time, making her unqualified for the job.
However, that didn’t stop her from filing for office.
But forget about the technical requirements of the statute for a moment, and think about the big picture here. The real tragedy of the case of the unqualified Ms. Candelaria is that someone who is not even 30 years old yet, and has only been licensed to practice law for 3 years, thinks that she has what it takes to be a JUDGE!
Don’t we want the best and brightest, or at least, someone with significant legal expertise? Someone who can say, “been there, done that,” when ruling from the bench? Aren’t we, as citizens ENTITLED to have judges whose qualifications are not even remotely in doubt?
In the case of Ms. Candelaria, EVERY single issue she would be called to rule on from the bench would be novel and unique, because she has no experience! Even simple evidentiary decisions that someone who has practiced in that court for a few months would know, would be novel and unique to her.
That isn’t what we deserve in our judges.
As for her experience, her job right now is LITERALLY, to make sure that there are enough photocopies of pertinent documents at the family law self-help center. By definition, she does not practice law on behalf of others (what lawyers traditionally do). What she does is make sure people get the right forms.
Which brings up another point. You want to talk about a county job that should be eliminated as WASTEFUL government spending? Look no further than the job Ms. Candelaria currently holds.
(Ms. Crawford is a former executive director of the Clark County Republican Party)