An interview with Kristin Luis candidate for Carson City Justice of the Peace Dept 2

Kristin Luis and family - image provided by the candidate.
Kristin Luis and family - image provided by the candidate.

Carson City – Kristin Luis is a candidate for Carson City Justice of the Peace Dept 2.  She recently stopped by the KNVC studios and recorded the following interview with Brian Bahouth …

We asked Kristin Luis why she is running for Justice of the Peace.

“I’ve practiced almost my entire career in front of the Justice of the Peace,”” Luis said.  “I’ve worked at the District Attorney’s office in a couple of different capacities for about 14 years.  And so I’ve appeared in front of Judge Tatro and Judge Armstrong, well Judge Tatro almost my whole career.  And I’ve seen the decisions first-hand. Handled the cases directly. I understand how important the loss of experience of 24 years, and it’s not just that experience, but it’s the insight the judge gains over the period of time that they’re doing that job day in and day out as to how to handle those cases.  Whether to release somebody to their own recognizance. What bail conditions to put in place. What sentence is going to be the most appropriate given the circumstances of the case. Those things are important.”

In a broad sense, judges decide what punishment fits the criminal infraction, so we asked Kristin Luis about her thinking on punishment.

“I think punishment always needs to be evolving.  I think we need to be considering the types of behavior that’s going on out in the community and to be addressing it appropriately,” Luis said.  “I’ve worked as a prosecutor as a deputy DA for 10 years, and now as the Assistant District Attorney for 4 years, so as a prosecutor you’re looking at it from a different angle in terms of being tough on crime versus what a judge is looking at.  I had the opportunity for 4 years while working at the juvenile court, to actually make decisions in juvenile delinquency and child welfare cases. That brings a whole different perspective to what you’re doing because you’re not just being an advocate as to the consequences that should be imposed being imposed.  You’re taking a look at the big picture. You’re taking a look at what brought the people before the court, and so you’re trying to address those issues.

“I had the benefit of the juvenile court to preside over 2 treatment court programs to address substance abuse and mental health, so while you’re looking at how to handle a particular case, and I do this now even as a prosecutor based upon my juvenile court experience.  You’re looking at does a sanction need to be imposed in order to change the behavior of the offender, protect the community, but should we also be addressing more importantly what brought that person in front of the court. Was it a mental health issue? Was it a substance abuse issue.  Is it another cycle that continues to bring people in front of the court, poverty, sometimes it’s parenting, any number of things that we could be addressing. I think those are important things.”

We asked Kristin Luis how her experience as a prosecutor would inform her work as a judge, should she be elected.

“I’ve handled as a prosecutor and the assistant district attorney, I’ve handled everything from a traffic citation on up to felony murder cases.  I’ve handled hundreds of DUI, domestic battery cases, sexual assault cases. I’ve seen those types of cases. I’ve worked with victims in cases. I have an understanding of the behavior and the impact it has on those individuals as well as on the community,” Luis said.  

Luis added that her experience as a defense attorney will also help inform her work as a judge.

“Prior to working as a prosecutor, I also worked as a defense attorney representing defendants in cases, DUI cases, domestic battery cases, even murder cases, so I’ve seen the issues from both sides, and I think that’s important and lends itself to my sentencing perspective as well.”

For Kristin Luis, she sees the office of Justice of the Peace as an important part of the community fabric.

“I think that the work of the Justice of the Peace if very significant,” Luis said.  “It’s referred to as the people’s’ court, and I say that because so many people are going to come in front of the Justice of the Peace.  They handle civil cases and criminal cases, but by far, more of their time is spent on the criminal cases. I think that they spend probably 5 to 6 hours out of their 40 hour week on civil cases versus criminal, and so it’s really important we have a judge who understands the intricate issues that come in front of the Justice of the Peace.  I think it’s important that we have a judge who sees day to day what those issues are, whether they’re mental health, whether they’re substance abuse, what types of cyclical behavior do people get caught up in that bring them back and forth in front of the court, and that we have a judge who understands how to impose a sentence that’s going to address those issues.

“I believe my experience having been both a defense attorney and a prosecutor, seeing issues from both sides has equipped me to understand those issues as they are presented in court.  I also have experience as a civil attorney, having worked in the District Attorney’s Office and handling civil matters. And then I have judicial experience at the juvenile court deciding cases for 4 years with regard to juvenile delinquency and child welfare cases.  I was applying the same laws there that the Justice of the Peace applies every day in court, and I was in a position, based on that daily experience, I was able to appropriately fashion sentences and see successes as a result of that.”

For more from Kristin Luis, listen to the audio interview embedded above …