Judge Melissa A. Saragosa will begin a two-year term as Las Vegas Justice Court’s next Chief Judge on Jan. 1, 2021. Judge Saragosa was unanimously selected for the position in August by the judges of Las Vegas Justice Court. Judge Saragosa succeeds Chief Judge Suzan Baucum, who has served as Chief Judge since Jan. 1, 2019.
“I am honored to have the support of my colleagues to be the next leader of our Court, especially during these challenging and uncertain times,” said Judge Saragosa.
In December 2006, Judge Saragosa was appointed as Justice of the Peace in Department 4 of the Las Vegas Justice Court and took the bench on January 8, 2007. As a Justice of the Peace, Judge Saragosa has presided over criminal, civil and specialty court dockets to include the first Domestic Violence Court and Veterans Treatment Court.
Judge Saragosa received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of San Diego and earned her Juris Doctor in 1993 from the University of San Diego School of Law. Judge Saragosa’s legal career includes 26 years as a judge advocate in the United States Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps and six years as a Deputy District Attorney with the Clark County District Attorney’s Office. Throughout her military service, she has filled a variety of positions including Circuit Trial Counsel, Instructor at The Judge Advocate General School, Appellate Judge on the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, and Senior Reserve Judge Advocate to the Command Counsel at Air Force Materiel Command. Judge Saragosa currently holds the rank of Colonel. At the Clark County District Attorney’s Office, Judge Saragosa worked in the Appellate Division, the Domestic Violence Unit, and on various General Litigation Teams. Prior to her appointment to the bench, she was serving as the Chief Deputy District Attorney of Recruiting and Training.
Las Vegas Justice Court hears traffic matters, misdemeanor criminal cases, civil cases (amounts up to $15,000), small claims cases (up to $10,000), summary eviction actions, and requests for temporary protective orders. The Court also determines whether felony and gross misdemeanor cases have sufficient evidence to proceed to District Court for trial. Judge Saragosa’s new duties as Chief Judge will include presiding over administrative matters and judges’ meetings; supervising the court administrator, managers, court hearing masters, and pro-tem judges; appointing committees of judges and court staff; and acting as the Court’s liaison with other governmental and civic agencies.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 11th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to 2.3 million citizens and 45.6 million visitors a year (2019). Included are the nation’s 9th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The County also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to 1 million residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.