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African-American Legal History in Nevada (1861-2011)

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8 Nevada Lawyer
aFRiCan-aMeRiCan LeGaL HistoRY in neVaDa (1861 – 2011)
this timeline depicts selected events in the history of africanamerican lawyers, civil rights, and diversity in nevada’s bar and on the bench. a more comprehensive version of this timeline is available on the Las Vegas Chapter of the national bar association website ( and in the Las Vegas Chapter of the national bar association archive at the Wiener-Rogers Law Library at the unLV boyd school of Law.
1861 American Civil War (until 1865) 1861 Nevada organized as a U.S. territory 1861 First Nevada Territorial Legislature criminalizes gambling 1861 First Nevada Territorial Legislature criminalizes interracial marriage (1861 Nev. Terr. Stat., ch. 32, at 93) and prohibits “coloreds,” including blacks, Native Americans and Chinese from appearing as witnesses against white men; blacks publicly object and demand civil rights, right to vote, public education for children, right to bear witness in court and to serve on juries (This timeline uses the term “blacks” until African Americans are granted citizenship under 14th Amendment in 1868.) 1864 Nevada admitted as 36th state of the United States Mid-1860s Blacks migrate to Virginia City 1865 Slavery abolished except as punishment for a crime (U.S. Const. amend. XIII) 1865 Nevada Executive Committee formed by blacks in Virginia City petitions Nevada Legislature for voting rights 1866 U.S. Congress passes Civil Rights Act of 1866 (ch. 31, 14 Stat. 27 (1866)), granting civil rights to all persons in the United States 1866 Nevada Executive Committee petitions Nevada Legislature for school desegregation and right to testify in civil cases
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“Westside,” a predominantly African-American neighborhood with substandard infrastructure Clark County created
1911 1912 City of Las Vegas incorporated Nevada Legislature expands statutory ban on interracial marriage to prohibit marriages between “any person of the Caucasian or white race” and “any person of Ethiopian or black race, Malay or brown race, Mongolian or yellow race, or American Indian or red race...” (Rev. Laws Nev., §§ 6514-17 (1912))
1868 1870 1872
African Americans granted citizenship, right to due process of law and equal protection of law under federal and state governments (U.S. Const. amend. XIV) African-American men receive voting rights (U.S. Const. amend. XV) Nevada Supreme Court holds that excluding African Americans from public schools is unconstitutional but approves separate schools segregated by race as constitutional (State ex rel. Stoutmeyer v. Duffy, 7 Nev. 342 (1872)); Virginia City public schools integrate following ruling
U.S. Supreme Court upholds “separate but equal” racial segregation as constitutional (Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896)) 1914 Women in Nevada granted right to vote (Nev. Const. art. 2, § 1 (1913 Nev. Stat., Res. no. 1, at 581, 1911 Nev. Stat., Res. no. 20, at 457, approved and ratified in 1914 General Election)) World War I (until 1918) Nevada Legislature amends statutory ban on interracial marriage to permit marriages between Caucasians and Native Americans (1919 Nev. Stat., ch. 72, at 124)
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1903 City of Reno incorporated Pre-1905 African Americans settle in Las Vegas Valley 1905 City of Las Vegas founded 1905 African-American workers migrate to Las Vegas; housing and theaters are segregated 1905 McWilliams Townsite established at newly completed railroad connection to Las Vegas, later known as
1914 1919
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1920 1924 1925 1925 Women, including African-American women, granted right to vote (U.S. Const. amend. XIX) Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members march on Fremont Street in Las Vegas KKK burns crosses on Peavine Mountain during initiation of 2,000 men National Bar Association (NBA) established in Des Moines, Iowa (of the fewer than 1,000 AfricanAmerican lawyers in the United States, 12 percent belonged to newly founded NBA) Nevada Legislature establishes State Bar of Nevada NAACP establishes Las Vegas branch U.S. Congress authorizes Hoover Dam construction project
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Circa 1940 Veterans Administration Hospital in Reno integrates after Alfred Smith, an AfricanAmerican World War I veteran, is refused service several times President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues Executive Order 8802, prohibiting racial discrimination in federal government and defense industry hiring practices African Americans start migrating to Nevada from small southern towns Operating permit for Shamrock Hotel, proposed by Horace Heidt Corp. as first interracial hotel in downtown Las Vegas, denied due to protests by nearby whites and Las Vegas’s emerging Jim Crow policy City of Henderson founded 200 African-American men strike Basic Magnesium Incorporated (BMI) Las Vegas for better working conditions Carver Park, a segregated section of Henderson comprised of a 324-unit project for BMI’s AfricanAmerican employees, opens
1941 1942 1942
1928 1928 1928
1943 1943
Six Companies, Inc. hires 4,000 men to work on Hoover Dam, none 1943 are African American; construction starts in 1931 1931 NAACP members found Colored Citizens’ Labor and Protective Association to locate and prepare proper candidates for jobs on dam work crews 1931 Casino gambling legalized in Nevada 1932 Federal government creates and manages Boulder City, a racially segregated town initially excluding African Americans (first Boulder City housing was completed and occupied by fall of 1931) 1932 Six Companies, Inc., responding to pressure by federal officials, hires first 10 African-American workers for Hoover Dam project, employing only 44 African Americans out of 20,000 workers during entire construction period Mid-1930s At least one Las Vegas newspaper begins anti-African American reporting, a shift from a seemingly race-neutral tone to negative coverage Living conditions in racially segregated, predominantly Late 1930s Las Vegas city officials African-American “Westside” Las Vegas (Source: Nevada State force African-American-owned Museum, photo taken in 1942) businesses to relocate to Westside as precondition to obtaining licenses 1945 NAACP founds Reno Chapter 1939 World War II (until 1945) 1947 Hotel casinos ban African-American entertainers from 1939 Nevada Assembly rejects Assembly Bill 88, which, if staying in hotels where they perform successful, would have mandated equal rights in Nevada
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Assembly Bill No. 5, outlawing racial discrimination in public accommodations, referred to Committee on Social Welfare where it dies
groups in public accommodations in Las Vegas and Reno
1950 1953 1954 Korean War (until 1953) City of Henderson incorporated U.S. Supreme Court overturns Plessy v. Ferguson, holding “separate but equal” segregation unconstitutional (Brown v. Bd. of Ed., 347 U.S. 483 (1954)) 1954 United States official involvement in Vietnam War (until 1973) 1955 Moulin Rouge opens, making it first integrated hotel and casino 1955 Hotel casinos again allow African-American entertainers to stay at hotels where they perform 1955 NAACP forms Mineral County Branch in Hawthorne 1957 Nevada Legislature fails to pass civil rights bill 1959 Governor Grant Sawyer proclaims February 8-15 Negro History Week (Proclamation by Governor Grant Sawyer declaring “February 8-15 as Negro History Week,” 4 Proclamations 326 (Feb. 6, 1959)) 1959 Charles L. Kellar, an African-American attorney admitted to practice in New York, relocates to Nevada at request of Thurgood Marshall, head of NAACP Bar Representation Program 1959 Nevada Legislature repeals ban on interracial marriage (1959 Nev. Stat., ch. 193, at 216) after Harry Bridges and Noriko Sawada successfully challenge a court clerk’s denial of a marriage license in Reno on grounds that it violated the state’s ban on interracial marriage 1959 Nevada Legislature passes bill prohibiting discrimination in procurement (1959 Nev. Stat., ch. 126, at 137) 1959 State Advisory Committee to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights finds general discrimination against minority
1960 Reno activists and community leaders use visibility of Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley ski resort to apply pressure to reform racially discriminatory policies and practices in northern Nevada NAACP members picket F.W. Woolworth Co. in Reno as part of national protest NAACP threatens massive march if Las Vegas Strip not desegregated Moulin Rouge Verbal Agreement between NAACP leaders, Las Vegas Mayor Oran Gragson and Hank Greenspun results in integration of Las Vegas Strip
1960 1960 1960
Charles L. Kellar receives a passing score on Nevada bar exam, making him first African American to pass State Bar Exam, but State Bar of Nevada denies him admission to practice law (Petition of Kellar, 79 Nev. 28 (1963))
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Over 200 African Americans picket and march in Carson City (reported to be first time protesters picket and march in state capitol) 1961 Civil rights advocates demonstrate in downtown Reno (protest has economic, not political focus) 1961 Sit-in at Overland Café in Reno 1961 Nevada Legislature establishes Nevada NAACP and other Civil Rights LeadCommission on Equal Rights of Citizens (1961 ers meeting with Governor Grant Nev. Stat., ch. 364, at 731); African-American Sawyer at the Capitol leaders criticize Commission for lack of any Building in Carson City (1960s) enforcement power (Source: John Nulty, Nevada State 1961 U.S. Department of Justice requested to investigate Library and archives) Nevada’s civil rights violations 1961 Nevada Gaming Commission adopts non-discriminatory policy for licenses 1963 Nevada Gaming Commission revokes non-discriminatory policy 1963 Nevada Legislature fails to pass bill to give Nevada Commission on Equal Rights of Citizens more power; prompts picketing 1963 Nevada Supreme Court denies motion to disclose Board of Bar Examiners confidential written reports concerning Charles L. Kellar (Petition of Kellar, 79 Nev. 28 (1963), rehearing denied) 1964 U.S. Congress passes Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting discrimination in employment and public places, conferring jurisdiction upon district courts to
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provide injunctive relief against discrimination, authorizing Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, and preventing discrimination in federally assisted programs, among other things (Pub. L. No. 88352, 78 Stat. 241 (1964)) 1964 Earle W. White, Jr. (19332005) and Robert L. Reid admitted to practice law, making them first AfricanAmerican attorneys admitted in Nevada 1965 Nev. Stat., ch. 332, at 689 1965 Nevada Supreme Court orders admission of Charles L. Kellar to practice law (Application of Kellar, 81 Nev. 240 (1965)); Kellar subsequently admitted to State Bar of Nevada 1965 Nevada Legislature passes Nevada Civil Rights Act, prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations and employment by race, color, religion or national origin (1965 Nev. Stat., ch. 332, at 689) 1966 Las Vegas City Commission appoints Robert L. Reid Alternate Municipal Court Judge, making him first African-American judge in Nevada 1966 Clark County District Attorney’s Office hires Addeliar D. Guy, III Hon. Addeliar D. Guy, III (1923-1997), making (1923-1997) him first AfricanAmerican Deputy District Attorney in Nevada 1967 Las Vegas NAACP files complaint with National Labor Relations Board against Las Vegas Culinary and Teamsters unions as well as 18 Las Vegas hotels 1967 Clark County Public Defender’s Office hires Earle W. White, Jr.; believed to be first African-American Hon. Earle W. White, Jr. Deputy Public Defender (1933-2005)
in Nevada U.S. Supreme Court holds prohibition on race-based discrimination in sale of housing is valid exercise of Congressional power under 13th Amendment (Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409 (1968)) Robert E. “Moon” Mullen elected to Las Vegas Municipal Court, Dept. 2, making him first African-American Kelly v. Guinn, 456 F.2d 100 (9th Cir. 1972) elected to Nevada judiciary (non-attorney judge) Earle W. White, Jr. goes into private practice in Las Vegas; believed to be first African-American lawyer in private practice in Nevada
1970 Alternate Municipal Court Judge Robert L. Reid elected Justice of the Peace for Las Vegas Township, making him first AfricanAmerican Justice of the Peace in Clark County Las Vegas NAACP files complaint of employment discrimination against unions and hotels in Las Vegas Consent Decree, U.S. District Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board Court, Nevada, of Education, 402 U.S. 1 (1971) filed June 4, 1971, United States of America v. Nevada Resort Association, et al., requires desegregation of gaming industry, mandates 12 percent
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of all jobs in casino industry at all industry levels to qualified African Americans in 16 named hotel casinos and several labor unions, training programs and reporting (Consent Decree is still in effect but most casinos no longer send out semiannual reports required under Decree) Under threat of federal court action, Nevada Legislature approves legislation effectively ending housing segregation in Las Vegas and Reno (1971 Nev. Stat., ch. 384, at 729) U.S. Supreme Court holds bussing is legitimate means for achieving integration of public schools (Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1 (1971)) Sixth Grade Center Plan of Integration adopted by Clark County School District; white children bussed to African-American schools in Westside for sixth grade and African-American children bussed to white schools for Consent Decree, U.S. District Court, Nevada, U.S. v. Local 357 of the Int’l Bhd. of Elec. other 11 years (plan remains in place filed June 4, 1971, United States of America Workers, 356 F. Supp. 104 (D. Nev. 1973) for 20 years) v. Nevada Resort Associations, et al. U.S. Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit holds against Clark County School District in class action alleging violations of 5th and 14th 1972 Clark County schools integrate following decision in Amendments under 42 U.S.C. §§1981 and 1983 (1964); Kelly v. Guinn almost total racial segregation of students and teachers 1972 U.S. Congress amends Title IX of Civil Rights Act of in elementary schools in racially mixed school district is 1964 to prohibit discrimination in education by sex, violation of substantive constitutional rights and District opening doors to law schools for women of all races Court has power to remedy constitutional violation by (20 U.S.C. §§ 1681) court-ordered integration (Kelly v. Guinn, 456 F.2d 100 1972 U.S. District Court, Nevada, holds in U. S. v. Local 357 (9th Cir. 1972), argued by Frank A. Schreck) of the Int’l Bhd. of Elec. Workers, 356 F. Supp. 104 (D. Nev. 1973) that (1) where all-white union and its apprenticeship committee exercise subjective and nonreviewable discretion in admitting members, referring individuals for work and selecting apprentices, and it is shown that white applicants fare significantly better than African-American applicants, a prima facie inference of discrimination arises; (2) where union has engaged in pattern or practice of discrimination on account of race, affirmative and mandatory relief is required in order to insure full enjoyment of right to equal employment opportunities; and (3) in ordering such relief, a court is not limited to parroting prohibitions but must order affirmative action which is appropriate to insure full enjoyment of employment rights 1974 David Dean (1934-1986) begins practicing law in Reno, making him first African-American lawyer in northern Nevada 1975 Governor Michael O’Callaghan appoints Addeliar D. Guy, III to Eighth Judicial District Court, Dept. XI,
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making him first AfricanAmerican District Court Judge in Nevada 1976 Nevada Supreme Court reverses and remands case in which Washoe County Court grants sole custody to AfricanAmerican father and denies custody to white mother based on review of children’s “Negroid” characteristics in a s, Jr. Arthur L. William e at the photo holding that strict hiv (Source: LVNba arc scrutiny also must y) w Librar Wiener-rogers La be applied to state judicial officers’ actions which classify persons according to race (Beazley v. Davis, 92 Nev. 81 (1976)) 1977 Arthur L. Williams, Jr. becomes first African-American attorney in legal office of Reynolds Electrical & Engineering Co., Inc. (REECo), prime contractor operating Nevada Test Site, making him first AfricanAmerican attorney employed at a major corporation in Nevada 1977 Nevada Supreme Court holds that 60-day limitation period in employment discrimination law does not apply to judicial review and enforcement of administrative determinations by Nevada Equal Rights Commission; case involves denial of promotion to an African-American woman because of her race (State Comm. for Equal Rights of Citizens v. City of N. Las Vegas, 93 Nev. 446 (1977)) 1979 U.S. District Court, Nevada, holds that seniority expectations of white employees are outweighed by benefits to be achieved by affirmative action under a collective bargaining agreement’s seniority override provision in favor of minority employees to insure minority representation in employer’s work force and “eliminate a manifest racial imbalance” pursuant to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (Tangren v. Wackenhut Servs., Inc., 480 F. Supp. 539 (D. Nev. 1979)) Beazley v. Davis, 92 Nev. 81 (1976)
1980 Johnnie B. Rawlinson and Viveca Monet Woods admitted to practice law in Nevada, making them first two African-American women admitted to State Bar of Nevada; Woods later becomes first African-American woman Assistant U.S. Attorney in Nevada 1980 REECo promotes Arthur L. Williams, Jr. to General Counsel Tangren v. Wackenhut Servs., Inc., 480 F. and Second ViceSupp. 539 (D. Nev. 1979) President, making him first African American to become General Counsel in Nevada, an executive level position; as
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Second Vice-President he is company’s first African-American officer and first and only one at this time of a major corporation in Nevada (REECo was a wholly owned subsidiary of Edgerton, Germeshausen, and Grier, Inc. (EG&G), a Fortune 500 corporation; EG&G has no other AfricanAmerican executives holding similar positions at this time.) Clark County District Attorney’s Office hires Johnnie B. Rawlinson, making her first African-American woman Deputy District Attorney in Nevada Robert Archie, Andras F. Barbero, B. Jeanne Banks, Marcus Cooper, James Davidson, Michael Allen Davis, David Dean, Booker T. Evans, Judge Addeliar D. Guy, III, James O. Porter, Johnnie B. Rawlinson, Dan Winder, Arthur L. Williams, Jr. and Justice of the Peace Earle W. White, Jr. found Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association (LVNBA) U.S. District Court, Nevada, holds that failure of hiring officer at State Division of Personnel to investigate African-American applicant’s job performance for four year period prior to applying, supports finding that decision not to consider seriously AfricanAmerican applicant was based on intentional racial discrimination (Cooper v. Dep’t. of Admin., State of Nevada, 558 F. Supp. 244 (D. Nev. 1982)) Liz R. Hatcher opens law firm in Las Vegas, making her first African-American woman to open a solo practice in Nevada District Court Judge Earle W. White, Jr. elected Chief District Court Judge, making him first AfricanAmerican Chief District Court Judge in Nevada Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association holds first Scholarship Banquet at Alexis Park Resort
African-American attorneys at an LVNBA event in Las Vegas in the 1980s (standing, left to right) Andras Barbero, Robert Archie, James O. Porter, Michael L. Douglas, Kevin Williams, Thomas Peterson, Lizzie Hatcher, Arthur L. Williams, Jr., Marcus Cooper, Timothy C. Williams, John Bailey, Cuthbert Mack, Gary Booker, Dave Phillips, (left to right, seated) Johnnie B. Rawlinson, Geraldine Kirk-Hughes, Hon. Addeliar D. Guy, III, Ben Logan, Betty Henderson, Adriana Cobb (Source: LVNba
archive at the Wiener-rogers Law Library)
1988 U.S. Congress passes Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, expanding reach of non-discrimination laws by requiring private recipients of federal funds to comply with civil rights laws (Pub. L. No. 100-259, 102 Stat. 28 (1988))
1991 U.S. Congress passes Civil Rights Act of 1991, strengthening existing civil rights laws, providing for compensatory and punitive damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination, and jury trials (Pub. L. No. 102-166, 105 Stat. 1071 (1991)) 1993 Nevada Attorney General’s Office hires Karl Armstrong, making him first African-American Deputy Attorney General in Nevada 1995 Johnnie B. Rawlinson becomes Chief Deputy District Attorney, making her first African-American woman Chief Deputy District Attorney 1995 U.S. Supreme Court holds affirmative action programs constitutional if they fulfill a “compelling governmental interest” and are “narrowly tailored” to fit particular situation (Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200 (1995)) 1997 Nevada Supreme Court upholds University and Community College System of Nevada’s narrowly tailored affirmative action plan which uses race as one of several factors as constitutional based on a demonstrated
1987 1987
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compelling interest in fostering culturally and ethnically diverse faculty (Univ. and Cmty. College Sys. of Nevada v. Farmer, 113 Nev. 90 (1997)) Las Vegas Veterans Affairs Facility names Addeliar D. Guy, III Ambulatory Care Center after Judge Guy, a decorated veteran of WWII and Korea ada v. ege Sys. of Nev Reno City Council appoints and Cmty. Coll 997) Univ. ev. 90 (1 Kenneth Howard to Reno Farmer, 113 N Municipal Court by making him first and only African-American judge to sit on Reno Municipal Court President William J. Clinton appoints Johnnie B. Rawlinson to U.S. District Court, Nevada, making her first African-American woman judge on U.S. District Court in Nevada
President, making him first African-American president of that organization Clark County Commission appoints Karen Bennett-Haron to Las Vegas Justice Court, making her first African-American woman appointed to Las Vegas Justice Court and first AfricanAmerican woman appointed to Nevada’s state justice system
2000 President William J. Clinton appoints U.S. District Court Judge Johnnie B. Rawlinson to U.S. Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit, making her first AfricanAmerican woman judge on Ninth Circuit Nevada Trial Lawyers Association (now Nevada Justice Association) elects Timothy C. Williams
Hon. Kenneth Howard
Hon. Karen Bennett-Haron
Hon. Johnnie B. Rawlinson
2004 2006 2006
Hon. Timothy C. W
EEOC settles race discrimination lawsuit against Mirage Hotel and Casino (Case No. CV S-021554 RLH - LRL, in U.S. District Court, Nevada) U.S. Supreme Court holds race can be one of many factors considered by colleges when selecting students because it furthers “a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body” (Grutter v. Bolinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003)) Governor Kenny Guinn appoints Judge Michael L. Douglas to Nevada Supreme Court, making him first African-American justice on Nevada Supreme Court Kevin Williams (1959-2010) appointed Clark County District Court Hearing Master, making him first criminal arraignment hearing master in Nevada Professor Kay Kindred appointed as Commissioner on National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, making her first African-American woman to represent Nevada in that organization
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tiMeLine oF aFRiCan-aMeRiCan LeGaL HistoRY in neVaDa (1861 – 2011)
2007 2008 John Valery White becomes second dean of UNLV Boyd School of Law Washoe County Public Defender’s Office hires Christine Jones Brady, making her first African-American Deputy Public Defender in that office; Brady is daughter of Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. (1968) plaintiffs Joseph Lee and Barbara Jones Barack H. Obama sworn in as President of the United States
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2010 EEOC files lawsuit against Henderson car dealerships for race discrimination (Case No. 2:10-cv01692-KJD-RJJ) Justice Michael L. Douglas selected as Chief Justice of Nevada Supreme Court, making him first AfricanAmerican Chief Justice of Nevada Supreme Court
Hon. Michael L. Douglas
Dean John Valery W
2011 2011
Brotherhood of Klans Knights of KKK remains active in Nevada Henderson City Attorney’s Office hires F. Travis Buchanan as Assistant City Attorney for City of Henderson, making him first African-American lawyer in that office Berna Rhodes-Ford opens law firm of Rhodes-Ford & Associates, believed to be first African-American-owned firm in Henderson Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association establishes Archive at WienerRogers Law Library, UNLV Boyd School of Law
PROF. RaChel J. andeRSOn is an Associate Professor of Law at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Vice President of the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association. Moving to Nevada in 1983, she graduated from Edward C. Reed High School in Sparks. She holds a M.A. in International Policy Studies from Stanford University and a J.D. from the U.C. Berkeley School of Law.
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