JUDGE KERRY LOUISE EARLEY
Prior to her appointment to the District Court in 2012, Judge Earely worked in private practice in Las Vegas for nearly 30 years. She was recognized for her work representing clients in the MGM fire, the Pepcon explosion, and numerous cases involving doctors, veterans, police officers, senior citizens and others who suffered catastrophic injuries. Judge Earley is married with two children.
Education: University of San Diego Law School, Juris Doctorate, 1979
Courts Authorized to Practice:
1981 to January 1993: Judge Earley worked as an Associate Attorney and became Managing Partner in a major civil litigation firm in Las Vegas. The law firm’s name progressed from Cromer, Barker, Michaelson, Gillock and Rawlings to Barker, Gillock, Koning, Brown and Earley. As Managing Partner, Earley was responsible for handling her own caseload of complex and high exposure litigation cases concentrating on medical malpractice, primarily defending hospitals and physicians. She managed and supervised associate attorneys of the firm as well as other firm departments including billing and administration. As Managing Partner, she was also responsible to the other partners for the day-to-day management of the firm and client relationships.
1993 to November 2007: Earley formed her own law firm in January 1993 which specialized in civil litigation. She was president and owner of the law firm from January 1993 until it ceased doing business in October 2007. The firm did business as the law firm of Earley Savage until the time of its dissolution.
For the entire fourteen years that the law firm was in business, Earley was its owner and Managing Partner. The firm specialized in civil litigation with an emphasis on the defense of complex and high exposure cases. The firm focused its practice on litigation of cases involving medical malpractice, products liability, wrongful death, catastrophic injuries, insurance bad faith, construction law, employment discrimination, contractual disputes and premises liability. The firm also provided insurance coverage opinions as well as legal advice and opinions in the administrative law field representing a wide variety of clients including hospitals, physicians, nurses, dentists, product manufacturers and distributors, architects, contractors, entertainers, business owners and insurance companies.
Earley was responsible for management and administration of the law firm in addition to her duties as a litigation attorney for major cases. She recruited attorneys and support staff, evaluated all firm employees, conducted employee training, and developed firm policies and procedures. She litigated complex injury and liability cases from initial discovery through settlement or trial. She supervised and oversaw the firm’s associate attorneys and assisted them with their caseload on a daily basis. She also provided legal advice to the firm’s clients involving issues in employment law, risk management, healthcare industry standards, and compliance with state and federal law involving the health care industry.
Earley was responsible for recruiting new firm clients and maintaining client relations with existing clients. She delegated day to day operations of the law firm to administrative support staff, which enabled her to continue her practice of law and focus on the quality of legal work generated by the firm.
November 2007 until June 2012: Earley worked at the Richard Harris Law Firm as an independent litigation attorney. Her role was a lead litigation attorney who litigated complex personal injury cases including medical malpractice, catastrophic injuries, products liability, employment discrimination, wrongful death, premises liability, trucking and automobile accidents.
June 2012 up to Present: Presiding Judge in Department 4 of the Eighth Judicial District Court. Earley was appointed by Governor Sandoval to fill the vacant judicial position in Department 4 after being selected by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Selection as one of the top three candidates. She was elected to retain my judicial position by the voters in the November 2012 general election. She currently presides over an all Civil Department which includes complex litigation such as medical malpractice, products liability, business litigation as well as cases involving all aspects of civil litigation.
In over 30 years of legal practice prior to being appointed to be the presiding Judge in Department 4, Earley focused my legal practice on litigation of cases involving medical malpractice, products liability, wrongful death, catastrophic injuries, insurance bad faith, construction law, employment discrimination, contractual disputes and premises liability.
She was involved in the trial of over 60 cases. In her last 15 years of practice, Earley was lead counsel for over 10 complex civil litigation trials. During her practice, she was involved in numerous arbitrations and mediations. She also appeared before the Nevada Supreme Court on various cases. Some of the reported cases that Earley was involved with include Wickliffe vs. Sunrise, Dailey vs. Sunrise and Banks vs. Sunrise.
Trials Presided Over:
Department 4 is an all civil department and since July 2012 up to the present there have been 15 trials which equaled 96 days in trial due to the extensive length of the trials. She is currently presiding over a trial that began in early February.
Desire to Run for Judicial Seat:
Earley sought the judicial appointment for the vacancy in Department 4 because a judicial appointment is a natural progression of her legal career. The time was right, both professionally and personally, to make a commitment to serve the Clark County legal community so that she could give back in some measure what has been generously given to her. Prior to her appointment while appearing in court, she realized she was attentively listening to the arguments of counsel in unrelated matters. Earley found myself analyzing the issues and determining how she would rule if she were hearing the case. She realized that she was at the point of her career that a judicial position would enable her to serve a judicial system that she admires, genuinely honors and wishes to serve. Given the opportunity, Earley knew she would strive to fulfill her judicial duties with commitment, integrity and competency. Her goal was, and is, that all parties appearing in Department 4 will feel they have been treated fairly, impartially and professionally. Her goal as judge has been to reinforce and, in some cases to restore, their belief in our judicial and court system.
Work History Qualifications:
A multitude of determinate factors and skills from her work history qualify Earley to be a judge. Her litigation experience, legal knowledge and integrity combine to uniquely qualify Earley to perform the duties of District Court Judge. She has hands on experience litigating all types of cases from complex civil litigation to issue specific cases. Her cases have involved specific legal issues including restraining orders and preliminary injunctions, as well as broad legal issues applicable to a variety of cases. Her legal experience is expansive and varied as she has represented both Plaintiffs and Defendants in civil cases involving personal injury, economic loss, employment issues, property damage and contractual remedies. She has been retained by insurance companies to represent their interests and battled against insurance companies to enforce an insured’s contractual rights and collect for injured victims.
One of the primary responsibilities of a District Court Judge is to preside over trials. During trial the judge must make timely decisions on evidentiary objections, including decisions on whether or not it is appropriate for evidence to come in at all. In order to correctly make those decisions, the judge must not only understand the Rules of Evidence but the legal theories of the underlying case. Improper rulings can result in an outcome that is unfair or wrong. Few of her peers have spent the amount of time that Earley has trying complex and high exposure civil cases. As a result of her almost three decades as a full time litigator, Earley is able to render appropriate decisions on evidence, procedural issues and substantive legal questions in a timely manner.
Earley’s extensive client base has provided a diverse yet balanced perspective when analyzing legal issues and applying the law. As a trial attorney, she has represented all social and economic classes which have brain injured infants to Fortune 500 companies. As a District Court Judge, she applies her knowledge of the law to accommodate the wide-ranging cases presented to Department 4. Most notably, she is inquisitive by nature and not in any way disconcerted by the unknown. She is quick to inquire when she is uncertain which is a valuable trait for a “trier of fact.” The analysis process that she has followed throughout her career is equally applicable in reaching sound judicial decisions. Earley gives thorough consideration to the relevant facts and legal issues presented, follow the applicable legal procedures, and apply the requisite law to the facts. In such a judicial capacity, Earley has the ability to weigh and consider all factors involving standards such as reasonableness, good faith, and intent which is required of a District Court Judge
Previous Election Experience:
Earley ran in the general election in November 2012 to retain her judicial appointment and was elected. It was a unique general election race for her office as she had 7 judicial opponents on the ballot in the general election.
Qualities Fit to Serve as a Judge:
Earley possess seasoned management skills from administrating several prominent law firms during the course of her career. She has put in practice these same managerial skills to ensure that Department 4 runs professionally and efficiently. She works diligently to promote a sense of justice, fairness and accessibility in Department 4. She and her court staff endeavor to treat all persons seeking justice fairly, competently and with impartiality regardless of the outcome. Her goal is to have the parties leave the courtroom knowing their matter has been equitably reviewed and considered by the court. As a judge, she organizes, facilitates, and oversees a process that will render an outcome based on a fair and impartial assessment of the law and evidence applicable to each case.
She has developed mentoring skills which will be an advantage that she has brought to the bench. Helping legal professionals as they develop their knowledge and advocacy skills has been a significant part of her legal career. She feels it is the responsibility of veteran attorneys and judges to mentor attorneys in court when necessary and where appropriate. Department 4 addresses attorneys with differing levels of experience, skill and knowledge. Earley has the ability to adjust to attorneys’ varying levels of courtroom experience that will ensure the integrity of the court is maintained in all proceedings.
Effective communication is a key and essential element of the legal process. The foundation of communication is not just “hearing” but diligently listening to what an attorney, a party or witness is attempting to convey. To be a successful attorney, litigant or judge requires one to be an open, receptive and attentive listener. Throughout the years that Earley has been a litigator her abilities to listen and observe have become highly enhanced. She also has the expertise to render well-reasoned and distinctly stated oral and written decisions. She has written countless motions, oppositions and reply briefs over the years. She has presented oral argument to both bench and jury on a routine basis. A judge must have integrity, patience, professional wisdom and be courteous. She has worked diligently throughout my career to develop those qualities and traits.
Work ethic is a fundamental trait for a successful litigation attorney. Earley has conducted her law practice as a professional whose work was done timely, comprehensively and completely. She has cautioned new attorneys NOT to practice in the field of litigation without the requisite desire and passion as the stress and time constraints can be overwhelming. She does not consider lightly the work ethic required to administer the duties of a District Court Judge. As a judge, Earley has brought the same limitless energy and impeccable work ethic that she followed in private practice.
Earley has not been subject to discipline by the bar.
To Speed Process & Minimize Case Delays:
Earley had the following to say about speeding up the process and minimizing case delays:
"I have already instituted procedures in Department 4 to speed up the process in litigating a case. On my motion practice calendar I schedule hearings that I anticipate will take less time at 8:30 am and lengthier hearings such as Motion for Summary Judgment or Motion to Dismiss at 10:00 am. I have also scheduled evidentiary hearings separate from the times for my scheduled motion hearings. I also accommodate counsel by scheduling motions at times that are not part of my regularly scheduled motion calendar."
Smith has been an attorney for over 35 years. He is a former federal, state, and county prosecutor and has 13 years of total experience in criminal practice. He is ambidextrous and has a background in civil and criminal practice. Smith will bring balance to Department 4 as a judge. He can hear "criminal" and "civil cases." He has been a court certified Arbitrator for over 17 years. He is a Short Term Trial Judge and a hearing officer and Traffic Referee for the Justice Courts. Smith is an educator in CLE and an author on Nevada's Gun Laws and the Lemon Law. He is a Las Vegas resident for over 21 years and admitted to practice in Nevada 23 years. Smith has argued 6 cases before the Nevada Supreme Court and had several published opinions. He served on the Southern Nevada Disciplinary Board and heard attorney discipline cases.