In this edition of Meet The Incumbent, VLM interviews Judge Rob Bare, a judge in Department XXXII of the Eighth Judicial District Court. Bare began his career as an attorney in the U.S. Army Jag Corps. When the opportune time presented itself, he decided to surprise his mother and run for the position of judge, the pinnacle of the legal profession. It is his love, service and respect for his family and others that drives him. Bare is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a former Bar Counsel for the State Bar of Nevada.
Vegas Legal Magazine: What did you do before becoming a judge?
Judge Bare: I was an Army Lawyer (Captain, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps), Bar Counsel for the State Bar of Nevada, and I accepted an assignment as a Municipal Court Judge in 2007.
VLM: What is the most memorable case you tried as an attorney before taking the bench?
JB: I tried a professional discipline case that I prosecuted as Bar Counsel for the State Bar of Nevada concerning allegations that an attorney had misappropriated nearly $400K from client trust accounts. It was a week-long trial where I called a number of her former clients as witnesses and I assisted them in telling their stories. Each story was incredibly compelling. Tremendous damage is done when a lawyer steals money from client(s). The lawyer was disbarred and, perhaps more importantly, the sworn testimony from clients helped to get them at least partial reimbursement for their losses.
VLM: What made you decide to run for judge?
JB: The experience I had when I was in Municipal Court made me feel that the judiciary was the right place for me. In addition, though it may sound sentimental, the truth is that I started my life in an orphanage and was adopted, and I wanted my election to happen during my mom’s lifetime (since she was in her late 70’s at that time). My investiture was essentially a tribute to my mom.
VLM: What does being a judge mean to you?
JB: I was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army after deciding to settle in Nevada and practice law in 1993. You can take yourself out of the army, but you can’t take the army out of yourself. Though I don’t think I’m a general, I do feel like at times I am a colonel. What I mean is this: I view being a judge as having a higher responsibility and is therefore the pinnacle of our profession, similar to the rank structure in the armed-forces.
VLM: What is your favorite and least favorite thing about being a judge?
JB: My favorite thing about being a judge is presiding over a jury trial. My least favorite thing is when the trial settles. Really! I enjoy the drama and display of professional skills that good lawyers bring to the courtroom. I am also proud of the public who take time out of their busy schedules to resolve disputes as members of a jury panel. I love watching the constitutional right to a jury trial play out.
VLM: What is the most memorable case you have presided over as a judge?
JB: I was asked to determine whether the procedure that the county commission used to dissolve or abolish the position of Constable was fair. After a hearing process, I did determine that their decision to no longer have a Constable in Las Vegas was proper.
VLM: Describe a situation where you had to support a legal position that conflicted with your personal beliefs? Please tell us how you handled it.
JB: In Municipal Court, under city law, it was a misdemeanor to have more than 3 dogs. When those cases came up, it was evident to me that the offender who had 4-5 dogs took better care of their dogs than most people with 1 or 2 dogs. Within the ethical allowable boundaries at sentencing, looking back, I would normally not be very harsh in sentencing those cases. In other words, though as a court I would always enforce the law, along with both the defense and prosecution, we would often find creative ways to provide for no repeat offenses on these cases.
VLM: Describe a court situation that tested the limits of your patience. How did you respond? In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently?
JB: I had a non-lawyer showing up to our misdemeanor appeal calendars, reaching out to pro se litigants, and essentially offering to represent them. It became apparent that this was the unauthorized practice of law. I issued a specifically tailored contempt order to stop him. Looking back, I have learned that the better practice in any contempt scenario is to make more specific findings and scrupulously follow technical trappings of contempt procedural law as this is an area wrought with pitfalls for judges. At the end of the day, my handling of this mess worked, and the unauthorized practice stopped.
VLM: What’s your biggest pet peeve caused by attorneys that appear in your courtroom?
JB: My biggest pet peeve is when attorneys, in an inappropriate manner, direct questions or arguments to each other instead of the court.
VLM: What is your best piece of advice for litigants and/or attorneys?
JB: To litigants: Though not legally necessary, in civil cases, get a lawyer. To attorneys: The most important asset as an attorney in Nevada is your reputation.
VLM: What is your passion outside of law?
JB: Jeep trips throughout Nevada. I have a 3-day jeep trip mapped out that is a result of trial and error over fifteen years that, if you go on, you’ll more than likely want to get a jeep! I also have a passion for artwork; both my own and others. I also enjoy red wine induced philosophy talk with my wife.
VLM: What do you love most about Vegas?
JB: Restaurant hours!
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