LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — You don’t often see many Black judges in Nevada courtrooms, but that is slowly starting to change.
Two local Black judges have made history, and now, they are encouraging the next generation.
Trailblazer. Icon. Judge.
Tierra Jones balances tons of titles, thanks to her historic position of power.
“I became the first African American woman to sit on the state court bench in the State of Nevada,” said Judge Jones. “I think it’s very important that the court represent this community.”
That happened in 2017.
Judge Jones tells 8 News Now her diversity brings a different perspective to the courtroom — something extremely essential as African Americans continue to be disproportionately incarcerated.
“One of the reasons I wanted to be a judge is to make a difference,” Judge Jones said. “It’s my job to follow the law, but there’s also always different life experiences and different things that are a part of your culture that are a part of your background, that you bring to your everyday decisions.”
There are 58 judges in the Eighth Judicial District Court, which serves Clark County. Jones is one of five African Americans currently on that bench. Some were just elected in 2020.
Judge Dee Butler is the first Black judge in Clark County District Court’s Family Division.
“I officially started on January 4th,” Judge Butler said. “It is nice to be the first, but hopefully not the last.”
She says growing up, she never saw judges that looked like her.
But witnessing Tierra Jones, first as a public defender, then as a judge, inspired her campaign.
“When you’re talking about mentors, just life mentors, attorney mentors and then now a judge mentor, she is a key person that I look up to,” Judge Butler said.
Judge Jones also does a lot of work with the valley’s youth and says she sees it as a responsibility.
“I think it’s super important that I pave the way for those that come after me,” Judge Jones said.
But she knows the road to representation is a marathon, not a sprint, and blazing a trail takes time.
“I think we are definitely making progress, but there’s definitely still work that needs to be done,” Judge Jones said.