4 judges to handle almost all Clark County murder cases


LAS VEGAS (AP) — A team of judges will now oversee almost all murder cases in Nevada’s Clark County in an effort to speed up the pace of cases.

The yearlong program involving four judges who are all former prosecutors began this week, the Las Vegas Review-Journal (http://bit.ly/2tJySvK ) reported. The Clark County District Court has more than 300 defendants charged with murder.

District Judge Douglas Herndon, a member of the team, said he expects the effort to streamline processes on how murder cases are handled. The judges are expected to handle some other less-serious criminal cases, but they have cleared their calendars of civil cases.

“I think it’ll move the cases along a lot faster,” said Herndon, who oversees the team. “We’re putting pressure on prosecutors to make sure they’re complying with all of their discovery obligations, putting pressure on the defense to make sure they’re doing their investigations and preparing for trial.”

Some murder cases have lingered in the court system for years, including that of Thomas Randolph, who spent more than eight years in jail before a jury convicted him last month.

While Clark County district attorney Steve Wolfson said he is pleased with the court’s decision to start this pilot program, public defender Phil Kohn is taking a “wait and see approach.”

Khon, who is responsible for about 10 lawyers on a team representing defendants charged with murder, said he is concerned that some cases might get rushed through.

“We’re spread thin,” he said of his staff. “There’s no doubt in my mind that some high-profile cases are going to come back because they were not ready for trial.”

Chief Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez said the district court’s goal is get criminal cases closed in an average of a year.

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