Pro­files of all four jus­tices

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By David Fer­rara Con­tact David Fer­rara at dfer­[email protected]­viewjour­ or 702-380-1039. Fol­low @ ran­dom­poker on Twit­ter.

WHEN Elissa Cadish’s nom­i­na­tion to the fed­eral bench was blocked about six years ago, she found her­self dig­ging deeper into her work and fo­cus­ing her per­sonal time on her teenage son and daugh­ter.

About a year ear­lier, her then-hus­band, David Har­lan Cadish, had died after a stroke. Sud­denly she was rais­ing two teenagers on her own while serv­ing as a Clark County district judge.

“It was a tough time for me, per­son­ally, hav­ing some pretty big ob­sta­cles put up in front of me,” the re­cently elected Ne­vada Supreme Court jus­tice said in an interview with the Las Ve­gas Review-Jour­nal. “And I did my best to get through it.”

The painstak­ing nom­i­na­tion process for the fed­eral judge­ship be­gan a few months after her hus­band’s death.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama nom­i­nated her in Fe­bru­ary 2012, but she with­drew her nom­i­na­tion about a year later after then-U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., blocked it.

“Even­tu­ally, I came out the other side and started to look ahead,” she said. “I can’t change what hap­pened be­fore, but I can look ahead for what might be a good thing for me to do.”

Cadish, now 54, knew that seats were about to open on the state Supreme Court and de­cided to pur­sue a po­si­tion.

Shortly after with­draw­ing her nom­i­na­tion for the fed­eral judge­ship, she re­ceived a mes­sage on from the man who would be­come her hus­band, Howard Beck­er­man. They de­cided to meet in per­son at a din­ner for the Amer­i­can Is­rael Pub­lic Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, where they hit it off.

Cadish re­calls later think­ing, “Wow, it’s OK to smile.”

“It was like com­ing out of a fog,” she said.

Early in her ca­reer, after grad­u­at­ing from the Uni­ver­sity of Vir­ginia Law School in 1989, Cadish worked as a law clerk for then-U.S. District Judge Philip Pro in Las Ve­gas.

“Twenty-nine years later, I’m still here,” she said.

Pro de­scribes Cadish as one of his fa­vorite people, point­ing to her ad­vanced le­gal mind and fair­ness from the bench. He said he en­cour­aged her to stay in Las Ve­gas after she fin­ished work­ing for him in 1991.

“I could tell when she came to me as a law clerk that she was go­ing to be a su­per­star,” he said. “I think she’s go­ing to be a dis­tin­guished ju­rist and a good ad­di­tion. I’m glad she landed in Ne­vada and de­cided to stay. Good thing for the state and good thing for her.”

Cadish said she tried to model her­self after Pro, who “was al­ways in control in his court­room, but with­out ever be­ing rude or con­de­scend­ing.”

After work­ing for Pro, she delved into pri­vate practice, fo­cus­ing on com­mer­cial lit­i­ga­tion and em­ploy­ment law, and be­came a share­holder at the law firm Hale Lane in 2000.

“Maybe out of stub­born­ness, I was de­ter­mined to prove you can have it all,” she said. “You can work at a ma­jor firm and be a part­ner and raise kids and do it. It’s chal­leng­ing. It’s not easy, but it can be done if that’s what you want to do.”

In the summer of 2007, she was ap­pointed by thenGov. Jim Gib­bons as a district judge.

A self-de­scribed “law geek,” Cadish said she has al­ways en­joyed le­gal dis­cus­sions and knew at age 10 that she wanted to be­come a lawyer.

“I re­mem­ber get­ting the idea that ev­ery­one’s rights have to be rep­re­sented and have to be re­spected re­gard­less of who they are,” she said. “That got my at­ten­tion early.”

She points to San­dra Day O’Con­nor, the first wo­man on the U.S. Supreme Court, as a role model. She hopes the new fe­male ma­jor­ity on the Ne­vada Supreme Court in­spires oth­ers.

“It’s im­por­tant for ev­ery­one, re­gard­less of their back­grounds and ex­pe­ri­ences, to have role models to look to and know that there are op­por­tu­ni­ties out there to do all kinds of dif­fer­ent things,” Cadish said. “And I think it will help when you see, wow, four women sit­ting up there with three men. It looks like a re­al­is­tic pos­si­bil­ity, and it’s some­thing to re­ally work to­ward.”

I could tell when she came to me as a law clerk that she was go­ing to be a su­per­star. I think she’s go­ing to be a dis­tin­guished ju­rist … Good thing for the state and good thing for her.’ Philip Pro for­mer U.S. district judge

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