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Appointed Henderson Municipal Court judge faces 2 challengers

Appointed Henderson Municipal Judge Jeremy Cooley is running in his first election to be retained in Department 2, but two local attorneys, Andrew Coates and Benjamin Durham, are looking to unseat him.

The position mostly adjudicates traffic, city violations and misdemeanor offenses with the most serious being domestic violence and DUI arrests. The Nevada Legislature recently decriminalized many minor traffic offenses, which are handled by the municipal court. But Cooley said those account for only about 15 percent of the cases so he doesn’t expect to see a major caseload decrease when the law fully takes effect next year.

Cooley was appointed in 2021 and in addition to his municipal duties he presides in drug court, which was started by his predecessor. He began his law career in business litigation but served more than a decade as a prosecutor in the Henderson city attorney’s office.

As a judge, “I can have an even greater impact than as a prosecutor to help to improve the community,” he said. “I want it to be the best and safest place for everyone.”

Cooley said his experience handling thousands of cases and more than 200 bench trials as a city prosecutor gives him the experience he needs to be a good judge. He also touts his Henderson police and court staff endorsements as proof he is trusted by city staff to hold the position.

In his free time, Cooley coaches youth sports and is a leader in the Boy Scouts of America, according to his campaign website.

Coates said he will bring a different set of experiences to the job than the other candidates, who have focused most of their careers on criminal cases, because he has practiced bankruptcy, worker’s compensation and business law.

“I’m not saying my opponents are bad, I would just bring a different perspective,” he said.

In addition to working for the Hooks Meng & Clement firm, Coates is a contract public defender in rural areas, representing indigent people accused of crimes. He chairs Henderson’s Commemorative Beautification Commission and as a lifelong resident said he wants to serve the community as a judge.

Durham has practiced criminal law for nearly 20 years in both federal and state court, representing suspects in drug trafficking, sex assault and murder cases. He has defended high-profile suspects who were members of the Hells Angels, Aryan Warriors and Rolling 60’s Crips, according to his law firm website.

Durham sees the judgeship as a new challenge that will allow him to benefit the community.

“I know they have a new programs like drug court and veterans court that will give me the opportunity to help people out,” he said.

The non-partisan primary will be held June 14 with early voting starting May 28. If none of the candidates receive more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will face off in the general election on Nov. 8.

Contact Arthur Kane at akane@reviewjournal.com and follow @ArthurMKane on Twitter.

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