Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2004 | 3:37 a.m.
CARSON CITY -- Four judges and lawyers from Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe have jumped into the race to succeed Nevada Supreme Court Justice Deborah Agosti, who is stepping down because of health reasons when her term ends.
The candidates, who have varied backgrounds, will fight it out in the primary with the top two advancing to the general election.
They are Clark County District Judge Ron Parraguirre, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Doug Smith, former state Sen. Lori Lipman Brown of Las Vegas and former state Republican Chairman John Mason of Lake Tahoe.
Parraguirre, 45, who has been a district judge since 1999, says if elected he would work to "streamline and expedite the litigation process." He said the courts are facing a limited amount of money with an increasing number of cases.
Before becoming a district judge, Parraguirre was a Las Vegas Municipal Court judge for three terms.
Smith, 53, worked for the both the public defender's office and the district attorney's office in Clark County. He has been a justice of the peace for nearly 10 years.
He has gathered a large number of endorsements from police organizations and said that even though he is thought to be conservative, he will be fair and impartial if elected to the Supreme Court.
Lipman, 46, practiced law in Las Vegas in the mid-1980s and then left to become a high school and middle school teacher for 14 years. She now teaches U.S. and Nevada Constitution history for the University of Phoenix in Southern Nevada.
Lipman said that money plays too big a part in the campaigns for Nevada Supreme Court. Parraguirre has said the campaign may cost $1 million, and Mason is looking at spending several hundred thousand dollars.
Lipman said she will limit her donations to $100 and her campaign will be an experiment to see if a candidate can win a statewide race without television, mailers and vacant-lot signs.
Mason, 57, is a lawyer for entertainers such as Reba McEntire, Shakira and Toby Keith. He entered the race after Agosti wrote the court's controversial decision that the Legislature could pass taxes to fund education without a constitutionally required two-thirds vote.
In the other Supreme Court race, Justice Michael Douglas, who was appointed earlier this year to succeed the late Myron Leavitt, will face Las Vegas attorney Joel F. Hansen. But since there are only two candidates, they will square off in the general election.