I am Joanna Kishner and I have had the privilege of serving our community as the District Court Judge in Department 31 since I was elected by you in 2010. I sought to enter public service after practicing law for over twenty years as it gave me an opportunity to serve the community where I was born and raised.
Prior to being elected as your District Court Judge in Department 31, I have also had the honor of previously working as a Justice of the Peace Pro Tem, Pro Tem Small Claims Referee, a Pro Tem Traffic Court Referee, and as an Arbitrator. I was also fortunate to be named as one of the Best Lawyers in America and one of Nevada’s “Super Lawyers”.
I graduated magna cum laude in 1986 with a double major in Political Science and Psychology from Claremont McKenna College. While at CMC, I also worked with the Claremont Graduate School’s Autism Clinic. Thereafter, I earned my Juris Doctorate in 1989 from UCLA School of Law at UCLA. I was a Judicial Extern for the Honorable Stephen V. Wilson of the United States District Court, Central District of California. I was also the Managing Editor of the Federal Communications Law Journal, the Third Year Editor of the UCLA School of Law Yearbook, and a Volunteer for the Homeless Legal Project. I am licensed in both Nevada and California.
As a Judge, I proudly ensure that justice is administered fairly in a wide variety of cases including a specialty docket in complex construction defect litigation. When I am not in Court, I serve as a member of the statewide Access to Justice Commission, the Executive Board of Boyd Law School’s Public Interest Law Foundation, the Legal Aid of Southern Nevada’s Pro Bono Advisory Committee, the Law Library Foundation, and the Nevada District Judges’ Association.
I look forward to utilizing my knowledge, experience, and work ethic, to continue to serve our community as your Judge. I truly care about our community and will continue to ensure that I oversee a fair and ethical court where everyone is treated with respect. I would appreciate if you would honor me with your vote in the upcoming election. If you would like to learn more about me or have any questions, please contact me.
What are the biggest changes you think we need to make to our justice system?
I am a member of the Access to Justice Commission which is a statewide Commission consisting of those in the legal profession and other stakeholders. The goals of the Commission include assessing current and future legal service needs and improving the ability of all Nevadans to effectively utilize our legal system. While there have been tremendous strides to ensure that everyone has his/her issues addressed by our court system timely and effectively, there is still room for improvement. Continuing to improve the ability of our diverse population to have full access to our judicial system is of primary importance and is a change I am assisting on implementing in our justice system.
What is your philosophy on “judicial activism” and what effect should judges have in setting or promoting public policy?
There are Judicial rules, case law, and ethics opinions that direct and/or guide what a Judge should and should not do. I study and follow those directives. Specifically, over the last decade I have been on the bench, I have carefully ensured that I do not engage in what is traditionally referred to as “judicial activism” but instead I follow the rule of law including precedent. Our canons, however, do allow Judges to encourage attorneys to engage in pro-bono activities which is a public policy that I am able to promote and continuously do so within the bounds of our judicial ethics.
Do you volunteer or do you participate in any charitable activities?
I have volunteered and participated in numerous charitable and public service activities since I was a youth growing up here in our community. I continued my community service during college as I double majored in political science and psychology where I worked with autistic children.
Prior to taking the bench, I volunteered as an attorney with the Children’s Attorney Project for several years where I helped abused and neglected children of all ages. I was also a nominee for my firm’s nationwide pro-bono award due to my immigration pro-bono work helping a youth who had escaped gang violence in Central America seek asylum and assistance. In addition, I was selected to be on the Clark County Bar’s former pro bono committee to implement pro bono policies in law firms and I also served on what was formally known as the Community Service Committee.
As a Judge, in addition to the Access to Justice Committee, I serve on Boyd Law School’s Public Interest Law Foundation’s Executive Board, Legal Aid of Southern Nevada’s Pro Bono Advisory Committee, the Law Library Board and the District Judges Association. In 2016, I was honored to be awarded the Justice Nancy Becker Award for Judicial Excellence. In addition, for several years, I was Chairperson of the Rules Committee and oversaw the State Court portion of the Open World program which brought judges from around the world to see our legal system. I also initiated a high school internship program for ATEC students to encourage their diverse student body to pursue legal studies. I have also served on the community boards of both ATEC and Clark High Schools. In addition, I encourage students of different ages and backgrounds to pursue law through my volunteerism and judging moot court, mock trials, We the People as well as volunteer my time assisting a variety of local and national non-profits.