Las Vegas Sun

January 20, 2018

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Las Vegas Justice of the Peace, Department 7

Incumbent Justice Court Department 7 Justice of the Peace Karen Bennett-Haron is facing one opponent who thinks she's stretching ethical boundaries and favoring defendants on bail decisions and another opponent who tried to remove himself from the ballot, failed, but doesn't consider himself a candidate.

The opponents are Jim Gubler, 56, a former deputy public defender and a pro tempore justice of the peace, and Chris Rasmussen, who tried to withdraw from the race.

Rasmussen said he's not running, I haven't spent any money, but my name's on the ballot and whatever happens happens. ... After talking to my family, my practice is going well, I'm still pretty young, it's probably a better idea to practice law for six or seven more years."

Gubler, however, is very much running, and said he's a better candidate than Bennett-Haron when it comes to ethics and performance.

Bennett-Haron did not return the Sun's primary questionnaire.

Bennett-Haron a former legal counsel for the Las Vegas Housing Authority before being appointed to her seat in 2002, is being criticized after sitting in at a city meeting in which officials were deciding the fate of an empty house owned by her father, the Rev. Marion Bennett.

Prosecutors also criticized her earlier this year for two murder cases at the end of 2003 in which she set bail they considered too low. However, public defenders said she applied the law fairly in both cases, and argued that the district attorney's office in at least one case did not appear anxious to proceed.

Gubler said in the case of Bennett-Haron sitting in on the meeting concerning her father, "judges are controlled by the judicial canons of ethics, and one of the canons says to avoid the appearance of impropriety ... clearly that happened, and the incumbent, when asked her position, indicated she would continue doing that (being involved in her father's business)."

Bennett-Haron has said previously that she was simply taking notes, and did not interfere in any way with the city's process.

Gubler said he tended to support law enforcement in its bail requests. He also listed endorsements from multiple law enforcement agencies. He also said that he would be available 24 hours a day to sign search warrants.