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Attorney challenging appointed incumbent in first appellate court race

A Las Vegas attorney is challenging one of the three judges on the Nevada Court of Appeals in the first race for the newly created court.

Bonnie Bulla, who was appointed to the bench by Gov. Steve Sisolak last year, is facing opposition from criminal defense attorney Susan Bush. Neither of the two other judges on the appellate court is up for election this year.

A former Eighth Judicial District Court discovery commissioner, Bulla touted herself as “a very experienced decision maker” who would “apply the law fairly and impartially.” She held that job for 12 years, responsible for resolving pretrial arguments about procuring and sharing evidence between attorneys in civil cases.

She replaced Abbi Silver, who was elected to the state’s high court in 2018.

Since 2016, Bush has worked with the Clark County Special Public Defender’s office, which she joined after 10 years of running a law firm she helped found. She declined an Review-Journal invitation to debate with Bulla.

The two candidates, however, spoke separately to the newspaper.

Bulla earned her law degree from Arizona State University in 1987, the same year she was admitted to practice law in Nevada. She spent 19 years in private practice.

In a 2019 judicial survey, Bulla received a 62 percent retention score, which she called “actually pretty good,” saying that her rulings do not always please all parties.

“First of all, it is a retention score,” Bulla said. “It’s not that the lawyers were rating the judges by a letter grade… As a judge, I make really difficult decisions. Fifty percent of the time the lawyers are happy, and 50 percent of the time they’re not, and sometimes I make everyone unhappy.”

Bulla said she hoped the appeals court could add another three-judge panel, while the offering that the current set of judges could work to publish more decisions that could be cited by lawyers and “provide additional assistance to the lower courts.”

From 2006 to 2016, Bush worked as a partner in the firm Bush &Levy, LLC. She said she hoped to become a judge “to continue giving back to the community.”

She added that she chose the appellate court seat because “I felt that it needed a different representation on the bench, with someone who has experience representing clients in the family and criminal division… I’ve spent my entire career advocating for people. We need that on the appeals bench, someone who’s actually represented clients over the last decade.”

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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