View From the Bench – Stemming the Tide: LVJC’s Mediation Program for Evictions

By Las Vegas Justice Court Chief Judge Melissa Saragosa

In 2019, the Las Vegas Justice Court handled over 30,000 evictions, comprising 72% of evictions statewide. When the eviction moratorium comes to an end, the court anticipates a large increase in eviction filings. To assist landlords and tenants in reaching amicable resolutions outside of court proceedings, the court is encouraging parties to utilize our free mediation program through the Neighborhood Justice Center (NJC).
The Las Vegas Justice Court’s specialized eviction mediation program is currently in full force. We have contracted with outside specialists who are experienced mediators. These trained mediators can assist in resolving any landlord/tenant dispute, including establishing payment plans for rental arrearages, assisting the parties’ connection with rental assistance, or negotiating amicable resolutions for other disputes.
Mediation sessions are conducted virtually whenever possible. If virtual means are not available, mediations will be conducted telephonically or in-person following social distancing guidelines. The NJC will ensure all mediations are completed prior to any scheduled hearing date. In the event the parties are unable to resolve their dispute and a court hearing is necessary, the Las Vegas Justice Court follows all social-distancing guidelines and COVID-19 courtroom occupancy limitations set by Clark County Real Property Management. Additionally, all courtrooms are thoroughly sanitized throughout the day to provide a clean and safe environment for all litigants.
To encourage mediation, the court will automatically transmit an informational packet, in both English and Spanish, regarding the program to both the landlord and tenant in an eviction action. However, there is no need to wait for an eviction action to be initiated in the Court to take advantage of this free mediation. Parties can contact the NJC at any time at (702) 455-3898.
The court is mindful that litigants may want to avoid unnecessary trips to public buildings like the Regional Justice Center. As such, the Las Vegas Justice Court would like to remind everyone of our 24/7 e-filing system. The court has been electronically accepting documents for filing since 2011. The court has dedicated staff members to assist litigants telephonically with the e-filing system to facilitate the remote filing of documents. We are currently working to enhance our e-filing capabilities with a system that will guide a tenant through a series of questions to populate the appropriate forms and file them automatically.
Las Vegas Justice Court hopes that with participation in both the free eviction mediation program and the electronic filing that the public can rest assured that the court has implemented processes and procedures to ensure safe and efficient access to justice by all.

About

This article was originally published in the “Local Courts” issue of Communiqué, the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association, (October 2020). See https://clarkcountybar.org/about/member-benefits/communique-2020/communique-october-2020/.

© 2020 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.

About the author:
Las Vegas Justice court Chief Judge Melissa Saragosa

Chief Judge Melissa Saragosa was appointed to Las Vegas Justice Court Department 4 in 2006.

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