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Hon. Elizabeth Gonzalez (Ret.)

Biography

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth “Betsy” Gonzalez is a former Nevada District Court judge having served as a member of the judiciary for the last 17 years. She began her judicial career in 2004 when she was appointed to the bench by Governor Kenny Guinn. Judge Gonzalez served as the presiding judge of the civil division from 2004-2016 and as Chief Judge from 2017-2018. In 2007, she was selected to preside over the specialized business court docket. The revitalization of the business court docket was in response to rapid growth of business in Nevada and the need for the quick resolution of those disputes outside of a normal civil case setting. As a result, she has conducted countless civil jury and bench trials; and presided over complex civil and business matters. She has handled everything from high profile wrongful termination cases to complex construction defect and more recently marijuana licensing disputes. In addition to her trial responsibilities, Judge Gonzalez has conducted over 350 judicial settlement conferences. Attorneys who have appeared before her describe Judge Gonzalez as a fair jurist who is courteous and considerate, and who often keeps M&Ms on hand for nervous witnesses.

Prior to her work on the bench, Judge Gonzalez practiced predominantly in complex civil litigation that included business, mass tort, and construction defect litigation. From 1986 to 1998 she was employed with the law firm of Beckley, Singleton, Jemison & List where she focused on these areas of litigation and served as the firm’s president from 1997 to 1998. She gained prominence in Las Vegas legal circles as part of the successful defense of Southwest Gas in the PEPCON rocket fuel plant explosion in 1988, which killed two people and injured almost 400 when it blew up 10 miles outside of the city. PEPCON sued Southwest Gas for $30 million and initially blamed the company for the blast. This six-week trial was one of two of the most complicated pieces of litigation ever tried to a jury in the Eighth Judicial District Court. The second was her defense relating to construction defects involving residences in North Las Vegas in 2000. She was also counsel during the trial of the Seven Hills Golf Course litigation. Her peers at the time described her as a “highly respected litigator and a very effective leader.”

Judge Gonzalez’s dedication and hard work has won her recognition throughout the Nevada legal community. She was first recognized for her support of pro bono by the Clark County Pro Bono Project in 1992 and in 2002 was selected Attorney of the Year by the State Bar of Nevada Access to Justice Committee. She served on the Clark County Legal Services Board, which now coordinates the provision of pro bono services for all of Clark County for over ten years. In 2007 and 2012 she was awarded the Justice Nancy Becker Award of Judicial Excellence. In 2007 and 2010, Judge Gonzalez was selected as Judge of the Year by the Trial by Peers program and was the 2015 Liberty Bell Award honoree for her work in establishing the Civil Law Self-Help Center.

In September 2021, Judge Gonzalez retired from public service to focus on developing a private ADR practice with a focus on complex matters at ARM. She will serve as a mediator, arbitrator, special master, and private judge. Her varied background as a jurist coupled with her extensive litigation experience makes her ideal for complex, high-stakes cases in almost any area of civil litigation. We are confident that she will be one of the hardest working neutrals at ARM and she will approach every case with the diligence and preparation that it deserves.

Biography

Elizabeth “Betsy” Gonzalez is a former Nevada District Court judge having served as a member of the judiciary for the last 17 years. She began her judicial career in 2004 when she was appointed to the bench by Governor Kenny Guinn. Judge Gonzalez served as the presiding judge of the civil division from 2004-2016 and as Chief Judge from 2017-2018. In 2007, she was selected to preside over the specialized business court docket. The revitalization of the business court docket was in response to rapid growth of business in Nevada and the need for the quick resolution of those disputes outside of a normal civil case setting. As a result, she has conducted countless civil jury and bench trials; and presided over complex civil and business matters. She has handled everything from high profile wrongful termination cases to complex construction defect and more recently marijuana licensing disputes. In addition to her trial responsibilities, Judge Gonzalez has conducted over 350 judicial settlement conferences. Attorneys who have appeared before her describe Judge Gonzalez as a fair jurist who is courteous and considerate, and who often keeps M&Ms on hand for nervous witnesses.

Prior to her work on the bench, Judge Gonzalez practiced predominantly in complex civil litigation that included business, mass tort, and construction defect litigation. From 1986 to 1998 she was employed with the law firm of Beckley, Singleton, Jemison & List where she focused on these areas of litigation and served as the firm’s president from 1997 to 1998. She gained prominence in Las Vegas legal circles as part of the successful defense of Southwest Gas in the PEPCON rocket fuel plant explosion in 1988, which killed two people and injured almost 400 when it blew up 10 miles outside of the city. PEPCON sued Southwest Gas for $30 million and initially blamed the company for the blast. This six-week trial was one of two of the most complicated pieces of litigation ever tried to a jury in the Eighth Judicial District Court. The second was her defense relating to construction defects involving residences in North Las Vegas in 2000. She was also counsel during the trial of the Seven Hills Golf Course litigation. Her peers at the time described her as a “highly respected litigator and a very effective leader.”

Judge Gonzalez’s dedication and hard work has won her recognition throughout the Nevada legal community. She was first recognized for her support of pro bono by the Clark County Pro Bono Project in 1992 and in 2002 was selected Attorney of the Year by the State Bar of Nevada Access to Justice Committee. She served on the Clark County Legal Services Board, which now coordinates the provision of pro bono services for all of Clark County for over ten years. In 2007 and 2012 she was awarded the Justice Nancy Becker Award of Judicial Excellence. In 2007 and 2010, Judge Gonzalez was selected as Judge of the Year by the Trial by Peers program and was the 2015 Liberty Bell Award honoree for her work in establishing the Civil Law Self-Help Center.

In September 2021, Judge Gonzalez retired from public service to focus on developing a private ADR practice with a focus on complex matters at ARM. She will serve as a mediator, arbitrator, special master, and private judge. Her varied background as a jurist coupled with her extensive litigation experience makes her ideal for complex, high-stakes cases in almost any area of civil litigation. We are confident that she will be one of the hardest working neutrals at ARM and she will approach every case with the diligence and preparation that it deserves.

Professional Experience

  • Neutral, Advanced Resolution Management (2021-present)
  • District Court Judge, Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County, Nevada (2004-2021), Chief Judge (2017-2018), Presiding Judge of the Civil Division (2004-2016)
  • President and Shareholder, Gonzalez & Associates (1999-2004)
  • Attorney, Beckley, Singleton, Jemison, Cobeaga & List (1986-1999), President (1997-1998), Shareholder (1991-1999), Associate (1986-1991)
  • Judicial Law Clerk, Hon. Donald M. Mosley (1985-1986)

Specialties

  • Business/Commercial
  • Class Actions
  • Construction
  • Construction Defect
  • Contract Disputes
  • Employment
  • Insurance
  • Insurance/Bad Faith
  • Malpractice
  • Mass Torts
  • Marijuana Cases
  • Personal Injury
  • Product Liability
  • Wrongful Death

Professional Licenses

  • State of Nevada (1985)
  • S. District Court, District of Nevada (1986)
  • S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit (1987)

Memberships and Professional Affiliations

  • Member, State Bar of Nevada
  • Member, Clark County Bar Association. Former Board member.
  • Member, American College of Business Court Judges. Member of Board of Directors, (2006-2021); Secretary (2006-2013); President elect (2013); and President (2014).
  • Member, Nevada District Judges Association. President (2017-2018).
  • Master Emeritus, Howard D. McKibben Chapter of the American Inn of Court.
  • Member, Judicial Council of State of Nevada, Judicial Education Funding Committee, (2010-2021).
  • Member, Commission to Study the Adjudication of Water Law Cases.
  • Former member, Judicial Council of State of Nevada.
  • Former Business Court Representative (2011-2013), ABA Business Law Section.
  • Former Member, Ethics Commission for the State of Nevada
  • Former Member, Supreme Court of Nevada Commission on Jury Improvement.
  • Past Member, State Bar of Nevada Functional Equivalency Committee.
  • Past Regional Chair, State Bar of Nevada Fee Dispute Committee Las Vegas Panel B.
  • Former President, Board of Directors of Clark County Legal Services Program, Inc.
  • Former Member, Eighth Judicial District Court Bench Bar Committee on Construction Defect.
  • Past Member, Eighth Judicial District Court Bench Bar Committee on Pro Bono.
  • Past Member, Nevada American Inn of Court, Executive Committee.
  • Former Member, Association of Defense Trial Attorneys.

Education

  • J.D., University of Florida College of Law (1985)
  • B.A., University of Florida (1982)

Honors and Awards

  • Liberty Bell Award,Clark County Law Foundation, for her work to establish the Civil Self-Help Center (2015)
  • Justice Nancy Becker Award of Judicial Excellence, Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada Pro Bono Project (2012)
  • Justice Nancy Becker Pro Bono Award of Judicial Excellence, Clark County Pro Bono Project (2007)
  • Judge of the Year, Trial by Peers, Clark County Law Foundation (2007, 2010)
  • Small Firm of the Year, State Bar of Nevada Access to Justice Commission (2003)
  • Attorney of the Year, State Bar of Nevada Access to Justice Commission (2003)

Lectures, Teaching and Publications

  • “Third Party Practice,” Nevada Civil Practice Manual, multiple editions ending 2015.
  • “Bench Trials,” Nevada Civil Practice Manual, multiple editions beginning 2016.
  • “Evidence in Trial Practice in Nevada” Las Vegas (March 1995)
  • “Civil Discovery: The Tough Issues Argued” Las Vegas (August 1995)
  • “Construction Defects ’96” Las Vegas (November 1996)
  • “When Insurance Plays a Role in Your Dispute ’97 – When the Tail Wags the Dog” (August 1997)
  • “Hot Issues in Business Litigation” Reno and Las Vegas (August 1998)
  • “Nevada Construction Liens and Construction Defect Claims” Reno (September 1998).
  • “Liability Update: All’s Not Quiet on the Western Front” Orange County Building Industry Show (November 1999)
  • “Advanced Issues in Nevada Construction Defect Litigation” Reno & Las Vegas (Feb 2000)
  • “Staying Out of the Courthouse: Alternative Dispute Resolution Strategies” Pacific Property Consultants Fifth Annual Construction Defects Seminar, Las Vegas (March 2000)
  • “Calloway v. City of Reno: Is it the Death of Construction Defect Litigation?” Clark County Bar Association, Las Vegas (May 2000)
  • “When Insurance Plays a Role in Your Dispute ’02” Las Vegas and Reno (January 2002)
  •  “Construction Defect” Clark County Bar Association, Las Vegas (July 2002)
  • “The Law and Politics of Tort Reform: Local and National Development”, Construction Defect Litigation in Nevada, UNLV Center for Democratic Culture, UNLV Boyd School of Law (April 2003)
  • “Civil Discovery Update 2004” State Bar of Nevada, Las Vegas (October 2004).
  • “Jury Selection: Selecting a Jury that Works for Your Client” Nevada Trial Lawyers Association, Las Vegas (April 2005)
  • “Discovery – Breakin’ It Down” State Bar of Nevada, Las Vegas (August 2006)
  • “How to Avoid Attorney Trial Misconduct: A Review of the Recent Nevada Supreme Court Standards” Nevada Trial Lawyers Association, Las Vegas (May 2007)
  • “Discovery South” State Bar of Nevada, Las Vegas (December 2008)
  • “Practice and Procedure in Business Court” Howard McKibben Chapter, Nevada American Inn of Court, Las Vegas (February 2010)
  • State Bar of Nevada Trial Academy, Faculty, Monterey, California (June 2010)
  • “Courtroom Etiquette” Nevada Justice Association, Las Vegas (November 2010)
  • “2012 Annual Review of Developments in Business and Corporate Litigation – Business Courts” American Bar Association Business Law Section, Las Vegas (March 2012)
  • “Business Court Judges Speak: How to Litigate a Case in Business Court” American Bar Association Business Law Section, Spring Meeting, Las Vegas (March 2012)
  • “Basics of Landlord Tenant Law” Legal Aid Center of S. Nevada, Las Vegas (June 2012)
  • “Complex Commercial Business Court Litigation” National Judicial College (March 2013)
  • “Tips From the Bench” American Bar Association Business Law Section, Spring Meeting, Washington DC (April 2013)
  • State Bar of Nevada Trial Academy, Faculty, South Lake Tahoe (July 2013)
  • “Multi-Jurisdiction Case Management – Litigation Being Pursued in Multiple Forums” American College of Business Court Judges, Fairfax, Virginia (Sept. 2013)
  • “Great Lakes States Complex Commercial Business Court Litigation” Faculty, National Judicial College, Dearborn, Michigan (October 2013)
  • “Working in Business Court in the 8th Judicial District Court” UNLV, Las Vegas, (Nov. 2013)
  • “Educational Program on Practical Tips for Courtroom Professionalism, Decorum and Procedures” Young Lawyers Sections, State Bar of Nevada, Las Vegas (January 2014)
  • “The Court is Open for Business: In-house Counsel & the Judiciary Collaborating for Success” Association of Corporate Counsel, Boston, Massachusetts (October 2015)
  • Navigating The New eDiscovery Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Nevada State Bar, Labor and Employment Law Section, Las Vegas (June 2016)
  • ESI Hawaii: A Journey Into the Ethical Pitfalls of E-Discovery, State Bar of Nevada, Waikoloa, Hawaii (July 2016)
  • “Eminent Domain” CLE International, Las Vegas (September 2016)
  • “Use of Technology in Construction Litigation” Nevada State Bar, Construction Section, Las Vegas (October 2016)
  • “Judicial Perspective” National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts – NACVA/CTI Conference, Chicago, Illinois (November 2016)
  • “Judicial Perspective” National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts – Boot Camp, Las Vegas (December 2016)
  • “A View from the Bench: An Interactive Discussion of Recent NV Supreme Court Cases: Recent Issues in civil decisions from the NV Supreme Court” Las Vegas (January 2017)
  • “Expert Evidentiary Issues” Nevada District Judges Association, Reno (April 2017)
  • “Guardianships in Dependency Cases” Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada (April 2017)
  • “Eighth Judicial District Court, Mental Health Court Program”, Women in Government’s National Legislative Summit, Las Vegas Nevada (June 2017)
  • “The Art of Discovery” Nevada Justice Association, Las Vegas Nevada (December 2017)
  • “The Gavel Gap Panel” The William S. Boyd American Constitution Society Student Chapter and Organization of Women Law Students, UNLV, Boyd School of Law, Las Vegas (March 2018)
  • “Enforcing Settlement Agreements” Nevada District Judges Association, Las Vegas (April 2018)
  • “Getting Your Bells and Whistles Admitted: Making the Most of Demonstrative Evidence in a Construction Trial” Construction Super conference, Las Vegas (December 2018).
  • Panel Discussion, ABA Standing Committee on the American Judicial System (January 2019)
  • “Experts Sabotaging Themselves in Court the Judges Tell All” National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts — NACVA/CTI Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah (June 2019)
  • “Litigation Toolbox” Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas (October 2019)
  • “Solid Numbers, Cutting Edge Methodology & Thorough Research Are They Enough to Persuade the Judges?” NACVA, (June 2020) via Zoom