I-Team: Judicial commission reprimands judge for handling of custody case

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A Clark County family court judge is reprimanded. It’s a story the I-Team first reported in 2016.

Judge Rena Hughes is being publicly reprimanded for breaking the law and failing to do her job.

The punishment — she has to take a course within a year on managing challenging family law cases. This stems from a custody battle in her courtroom in June of 2016.

She talked to the 12-year-old girl at the center of it without her parents or an attorney present for nine minutes. The child did not want to go to her father, at the time.

Hughes threatened to lock the girl up in Child Haven which she described as a jail for kids if she did not cooperate.

Here’s part of the exchange.

Girl:  “Please no,” the girl said as she cried. “I want to be with my mama. Please. I don’t want to be with him.”

Judge Hughes: “I’ve made my decision. I’ve already told you that.”

Girl: “I beg of you.” 

Judge: “You don’t need to beg. I’ve made the decision for your best interest.”

Girl: “How do you know my best interest? You don’t know me.”

Judge: “Because I told you, I’m a grown-up, and you’re a child.”

Girl: “Please, please, please, please, please.”

While Hughes received public criticism for how she spoke to the child, the decision handed down by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline focuses primarily on how Hughes handled the case.

READ: Decision on Judge Hughes

It states, it is very troubling she was unfamiliar with certain law, blamed her clerk for not advising her, and even violated the mother’s due process rights by taking the child away from her to punish the mom not for the child’s best interests.

The commission refers to testimony from Hughes as disingenuous and not credible.

Hughes is a sitting judge still on the bench and currently handling cases.

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