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Peremptory Challenges in Clark County Family Court

Posted by attorney John Eccles

One option available to litigants in Family Court is the ability to remove the Judge assigned from the case without having to explain why you want the Judge removed. You can do this by filing a "Peremptory Challenge". However, this option is not without cost - it is $450.00 (payable to the Clerk of the Nevada Supreme Court) to file a Peremptory Challenge. Also, the Peremptory Challenge is time sensitive - you have to file it at least ten (10) days prior to the Judge hearing any matters or making any substantive (as opposed to procedural) rulings.

There are various reasons why you might file a Peremptory Challenge:

1) You may really like the attorney you hired, but there might be some actual (or perceived) animosity between the Judge and your attorney;

2) The Judge assigned to your case may be known to have views which are inconsistent with you getting a favorable result based on your facts and their interpretation of the law; and/or

3) The Judge may be too unpredictable in issuing decisions on similar cases to yours.

Of course, there are myriad other reasons why a Peremptory Challenge might be used.

There are also various reasons why you might NOT file a Peremptory Challenge:

1) The Judge assigned to your case is not the worst possible Judge you could have assigned to your case (in other words, if you file a Peremptory Challenge, you may end up with an even worse Judge for your case);

2) You have bad facts and bad law (in which case having an unpredictable Judge may actually be beneficial - provided you go into the case knowing you have an uphill battle)

I very rarely use Peremptory Challenges as an attorney, but if the facts of a case and my knowledge of the propensities of the Judge assigned to my client's case are literally a worst case scenario for my client, I will advise my client to pony up the extra $450.00 for the Peremptory Challenge. In any event, it is not a bad idea to seek the opinion of a Family Law attorney if there is any doubt about whether to exercise the right to file a Peremptory Challenge.

The bottom line is this: If your attorney advises you to file a Peremptory Challenge - even if it is going to cost you $450.00 to do it - you should heed the attorney's advice. Attorneys know the Judges in Family Court better than litigants, and if your facts and law are not conducive to keeping the Judge, failing to file a Peremptory Challenge will almost certainly result in less beneficial results for you in your case.

Additional resources provided by the author

Interestingly enough, the Clark County Family Law Self Help Center does not provide an online template for a Peremptory Challenge.

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