Las Vegas Sun

June 16, 2021

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County mulls legal representation for tenants in eviction cases

The Clark County Commission is willing to explore the possibility that people facing eviction have a right to a government-provided attorney, much like criminal defendants.

The commission took no formal action when it discussed the possibility Tuesday, but Commissioner Tick Segerblom said the guaranteed public attorney concept is part of a nationwide movement, and he said he’d like to look into it for the Las Vegas area.

Commissioner Justin Jones said the county would have to study the cost, but agreed the county should explore the possibility.

Commissioner Jim Gibson suggested the idea that an attorney from a partner like Legal Aid be available in the courtroom to give advice when evictions are on the court calendar. Noting that Clark County saw about 38,000 evictions in 2019 — pre-pandemic — the response to evictions is “not just daunting but incalculable.”

“I surely do understand the horrific effects that evictions and leaving people homeless have on things,” he said.

Commissioner William McCurdy said evictions are an extremely complex issue, and everyone involved is losing.

“The question is, what resources are we going to have in place to capture folks who are going to be literally without a home?” he said.

County staff will gather data on existing eviction responses, including added spending on mediation, and bring the item back to the commission.