& Democracy Forum Series
is sponsored by the Center for Democratic Culture and the William
S. Boyd School of Law, and it is a major component of the CDC
service to the Nevada community. The forum brings together politicians,
business representatives, and community activists who engage
each other on the issues dividing citizens of Nevada. The forum
series is based on the premise that many problems confronting
our society cannot be solved by political or legal means alone.
What is also needed is good will, a quality that no democracy
can legislate and without which no democracy can thrive. Reform
efforts have the best chance to succeed if the major players
face each other in a public forum where they can directly explore
their differences and do justice to the opponents' views. The
Justice & Democracy Forum series fosters good faith through
a dialogue that explores and expands the room for the honest
difference of opinion in our community. Forum proceedings are
posted on the CDC web site and covered by The Nevada Law Journal.
The center works with the Nevada Bar to make J & D forums
available for CLE credits.
on Civility in Public Discourse
will take place on Tuesday, November 15, 2005. Co-sponsored by the Center for Democratic Culture and William S. Boyd School of Law, the conference will be held at the Boyd School of Law, Room 102, 9:00 a.m. - 12 noon. The debate will focus on the tension between the constitutional guarantees of free speech and the realities of modern politics that reward negative campaigning. There have been several campaigns in recent memory when candidates mounted personal attacks, sometimes launched from a neighboring state, against their opponents who have no legal recourse and little time or resources to defend themselves. The question is when does principled polemics go too far. If no legal fix is possible here, what can public and the media do to fend off uncivil wars? The event starts with Governor Kenny Guinn's keynote address on the Social Health of Nevada.
This presentation will mark the inauguration of the report on the Leading Indicators and Quality of Life in the Silver State. The report stems from the Justice & Democracy forum held on November 5, 2004, at the Boyd School of Law, and it was made possible in part by a Planning Initiative Award that the Center for Democratic Culture received from the UNLV President's office for its project "Civic Culture Initiative for the City of Las Vegas." The Social Health of Nevada report, the first of its kind in the Silver State, has been a collaborative effort of the University of Nevada faculty, State of Nevada officials, and Clark County professionals.
The civility forum focuses on the broad impact that civic culture and public communications have on the quality of life in our state. Among the participants are Dina Titus, Senate Minority Leader; Hon. James Mahon, Federal District Court Judge; Peter Ernaut, President of Public Affairs, R & R Partners; Las Vegas Review-Journal Columnist Jane Ann Morrison; Gary Peck, Executive Director of Nevada's Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union; Stacy M. Jennings, Executive Director, Nevada Commission on Ethics; Ardyth Broadrick Sohn, Professor and Director, The Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies; Joan W. Howarth, Professor and Associate Dean of the William S. Boyd School of Law; Professor Sylvia Lazos, Boyd School of Law; Professor Tom McAffee, Boyd School of Law; and Dmitri Shalin, Professor of Sociology and Director of the UNLV Center for Democratic Culture. Click here to review the preliminary forum program and media coverage.
Forum on the Leading Social Indicators in Nevada was the third symposium in the Justice & Democracy Forum series. Held on Friday, November 5, 2004, the forum brought together scholars, politicians, and community activists who reflected on social health indicators in the Silver State, compared our vital statistics to the figures from other states, and produced a report on social health in Nevada that serves as a resource for the government and nongovernment organizations. Among forum participants were Susan Klein, Director of Clark County Family Services; Carlos Garcia, Superintendent of Clark County School District; Chris Giunchigliani, Nevada Assembly; Billy Vassiliadis, President and CEO, R & R Advertising; Keith Schwer, Director of UNLV Center for Business & Economic Research; Phil Kohn, Clark County Public Defender; Ben Graham, Chief Deputy District Attorney; Valerie Wiener, Nevada Senator; Kathryn Landreth, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department; Annette Appell, Boyd School of Law; Robert Schreck, Senior Medical Director of HealthInsight, QIO; Fred Preston, Professor of Sociology; Rebecca Nathanson, UNLV School of Education; Sandra Owens-Kane, UNLV School of Social Work; and Kate Hausbeck, UNLV Department of Sociology. The morning session was moderated by Professors Mary Berkheiser, William S. Boyd School of Law. Professor Hal Rothman, Chair of the Department of History at UNLV, moderated the afternoon session. CLE credit was offered through the Clark County Bar Association.The forum took place in Room 102 at William S. Boyd School of Law, and it included a luncheon honoring forum participants. Click here to review the forum program and forum transcripts posted on the CDC web site. The forum has produced the Social Health of Nevada Report, the first of its kind in the Silver State, which reviews 20 leading indicators that affect the quality of life in the Silver State.
Forum on Tort Reform took place Friday, April 25, 2003, under the heading "The Law and Politics of Tort Reform: Local and National Developments." The forum program featured two sessions, the morning one addressing the current legal issues in tort reforms and the afternoon session devoted to the legislative, political, and historical aspects of tort reform. The program was introduced by Richard Morgan, Dean of the Boyd School of Law, and Dmitri Shalin, Director of the UNLV Center for Democratic Culture. Professor Jeffrey Stempel moderated forum discussions. Governor Kenny Guinn sent a message to panel participants in which he stressed that the issues before the forum are "of paramount concern to the citizens of Nevada." In his letter of welcome, Senator Harry Reid wrote, "It is important that we as Americans do not take for granted the freedoms we have in our country to discuss, debate and even disagree on topics of national importance. . . . I am committed to doing everything in my power to ensure that our doctors have affordable medical malpractice insurance so that patients have access to their doctors when they need them most." Senator John Ensign identified tort reform as "an issue of critical importance to our state" and expressed his concern that "recently, we have seen the quality of our health care jeopardized." Congressman Jon Porter emphasized the role of "maintaining an open exchange of ideas on these important issues that face all Nevadans." Democratic Minority Leader of the Nevada State Senate Dina Titus pointed out that the problem confronting the forum is "both critical and controversial, and for those reasons needs to be addressed in an open forum with well respected representatives from all sides involved." And UNLV President Carol Harter communicated to all those gathered at the forum that she was "delighted to host this conference" on the issues which "continue to be of importance and divisiveness in the community." She also reiterated that "UNLV is firmly committed to providing service to the greater Las Vegas area." The panel proceedings were reviewed by Babette May-Herrmann in the UNLV campus newspaper. The forum transcripts are posted on the web in the CDC archives.The Nevada Law Journal published a special issue on the law and politics of tort reform in the Winter of 2004.
Forum on Judging the Judges was the first event in the J & D forum series. This inaugural forum in the Justice & Democracy Forum series took place Dec. 10, 2002, under the heading "Judging the Judges: Should We Elect or Appoint Nevada Judges?" The forum drew a sizable audience, generated considerable publicity, and lead to calls for reforms. The Las Vegas Review Journal ran several articles on the subject, beginning with Dec. 6 and Dec. 7 publications that announced the upcoming event. A day after the forum, Jane Ann Morrison and Erin Neff printed extensive reports about the forum and John Smith wrote a column titled "Maybe Good Mechanics Make Better Judges Than Mediocre Lawyers," where he argued that voters should be the ultimate judges on which judges are best suited for the bench. On Dec. 12, Steve Sebelius wrote a column decrying the corrupting influence of money on judicial elections and urging appointment as the alternative to the current system. And Thomas Mitchell published a column on Dec. 15, titled "A Week Among the Folks Who Know Best," in which he took to task academics who overestimate the role of civility in public discourse and support balancing judicial elections with judicial appointment procedures. The forum on judging the judges may not have changed many minds. As John Smith pointed out, "excellent arguments were made on both sides of the debate." What is important is that everyone had an opportunity to weigh in on the argument and join issues with the opponent. The discussion clarified the limits within which legislators and community activists interested in judicial election reforms must operate. The forum transcripts are posted on the web as part of the CDC archives. The Nevada Law Journal published a special issue dedicated to this forum in the Fall 2003.
Forum on Pragmatism, Law and Democracy will examine the role of emotions personal beliefs in the adjudication porcess, focusing in particular on the tension between abstract legal principles and the historically evolving community mores that inform legal interpretations. Among the judges and legal scholars who have tentively accepted the invitaiton to patricipate in this forum are
the Hon. Alex Kozinski, U.S. Ninth Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit; Hon. Philip M. Pro, U.S. District Court, District of Nevda; Jeffrey W. Stempel, Doris S. and Theodore B. Lee Professor of Law, William S. Boyd School of Law; Jean Sternlight, Professor and Director, Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution; and Lynne Henderson, Professor, William S. Boyd School of Law; and David S. Tanenhaus, Professor, Department of History and William S. Boyd School of Law.
Forum on Money, Power, and the Quality of Justice focuses on the democratic imperative of securing justice for all and the obstacles that claimants from different social groups face while redeeming their constitutional rights.