By VERNON ROBISON
Moapa Valley Progress
Moapa Valley Justice of the Peace candidate Gregor Mills held a Meet and Greet event on Friday evening at the Overton Senior and Recreation Center. A crowd of community members of various ages gathered in the center’s great hall to meet Mills and hear what he had to say.
It was the second Meet and Greet event held by the Mills campaign thus far. The first was held in March at the Old Logandale School.
“I wanted to broaden our reach a little and draw a different demographic for this event, compared to the last one,” Mills said. “I think we were successful in that. I’ve enjoyed meeting those who attended and I appreciate them coming to find out more about the issues.”
Mills is running for the seat being vacated by the honorable Judge Lanny Waite, who is retiring this year after more than thirty years on the bench. Mills is running against Judge Waite’s son, Kyle Waite.
Attendees at Friday’s event were treated to a full Tex-Mex style meal paid for by the Mills campaign and cooked up by the talented senior center cafeteria staff.
Mills spent most of the evening meeting with individuals in the crowd, one-by-one, getting to know them and answering questions. But he did spend a few minutes addressing the whole assembly about a string of campaign issues.
Mills emphasized that the main factor that distinguishes the two candidates is that of experience. He explained that he had been practicing law for the past 15 years. Most of that time has been in representing clients in the courtroom. In addition, Mills said he had argued issues before the Nevada Supreme Court no less than five times. That kind of experience teaches things about the real application of the law that can’t be learned anywhere else, Mills said.
“In trials you can’t turn to anyone else and ask for advice or help,” Mills said. “You are there and things are moving fast. You have to know the law and its application. That comes from practice. That is why they call it the ‘practice’ of law.”
Mills pointed out that his opponent lacked that kind of depth of experience. “Kyle (Waite) has a lot of experience in the area of health administration where he practices; investigating and denying insurance claims and so on,” Mills said. “But that doesn’t have much to do with law in the courtroom of the state of Nevada. To my knowledge, I don’t believe that he has ever been paid to represent an individual in court. So as for real experience and knowledge of the courtroom and the law, I am the better candidate.”
Mills also addressed some of the points of debate that have been ongoing regarding the local juvenile court. In recent statements Waite has raised the question of whether Mills would be eligible to serve as a juvenile master in the community. Since the juvenile division falls under the Family Court, Waite claims that Mills would be unable to continue to practice family law under the Family Court while serving as juvenile master. Thus if Mills is elected and is then unwilling to give up the practice of family law, the local juvenile court may be in jeopardy, Waite has claimed.
But Mills said that this interpretation is an example of Waite’s inexperience in understanding and interpreting the law.
“Look, you can read a statute and think you understand it,” Mills said. “But if you haven’t read the history of the law, if you don’t know the case law behind it, you don’t really understand it. This is a case where we are arguing over a statute that Kyle doesn’t really understand; or how it is applied.”
Mills insisted that the rule in question was being misread by Waite and that it would not affect his ability to act as juvenile master in the community. But just to put the matter to rest, Mills said he was willing to take a pledge.
“If I am elected and for some reason am told that we would lose juvenile in Overton because I’m practicing family law, I will stop practicing family law to save the juvenile court here,” Mills said. “That should clear this up completely for people. I am so sure that this is a non-issue, that I will make that pledge to the community.”
On another subject, Mills said that he had decided to run for the seat because he saw some changes that he could bring to the court.
First, he wants to deal with the ongoing problem with opiate abuse in the community, especially among juveniles. “If we don’t deal with it now, then we will lose those kids that are involved with it,” Mills said. “I will send a clear message to our kids that opiate abuse is a path to death, pure and simple. They are either going to die or they are going to quit. As judge I will deal with the problem.”
When it comes to criminal court matters, Mills said he would treat everyone fairly no matter who they are; regardless of race, religion, family or anything else.
“Someone asked me what would I do if I had to rule on someone who is the son or daughter of my best friend,” Mills said. “The answer to that is that I will do what is best for that individual, same as any other kid. I am going to do what it takes to help that kid. Doing that would be doing what is best for the kid’s parents, and what is best for the community.”
One thing is certain, Mills said he won’t just be sending people away from the community. He referenced the current program practiced by Judge Waite of people being given the choice to serve six months in jail or to leave the jurisdiction for three years.
“Right now, they just have to leave and the case is dismissed,” Mills said. “There is no requirements, no status checks and no one following their progress. If they leave to go get help that is fine, but I would require accountability. I would want status checks to see what they are doing. I would not just send the problem to some other judge in another community. I’m the judge and it is my responsibility. Things would have to get better for the person or they would be punished as the law requires.”
Finally, Mills said that he wanted to address rumors he had recently heard in the community attacking his lifestyle. “I don’t know where these rumors are coming from but let me just address it here,” he said. “With me and my lifestyle, what you see is what you get.”
Mills pointed out that he grew up in Moapa Valley and had graduated from the local high school. He has been married to his wife, Amy, since 1994 and the couple has four children.
“They are all good kids,” Mills said. “They are doing great.”
In addition, Mills pointed to his long and distinguished career in law. He said his record is clear. He had never missed a trial date and always had come fully prepared to represent his clients in court, he said. In addition, he has never had any complaints filed against him before the state bar and had never been admonished or sanctioned in any way, he said.
“That is my lifestyle,” Mills said. “I am who I am. I guess people can judge for themselves based on what they see.”