• Rica for Judge, Dept Y

A Decade Dedicated to Domestic Violence Awareness

In 2010, I co-founded Bamboo Bridges, a 501c3 nonprofit organization in Southern Nevada, where I served four years as the Vice Chairperson. Bamboo Bridges' mission is to offer culturally relevant services to the Asian Pacific Islander American community, with domestic violence issues being one of its main focus areas.

In 2012, Senator (then Attorney General) Catherine Cortez-Masto appointed me to the Nevada Council for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. I served as Chair of the Public Information Committee during my three-year term. I was also a member of the Clark County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team. This multi-disciplinary team consisted of mediators, social workers, prosecutors, victim advocates, shelter staff, school district employees, the coroner's office, Henderson police detectives, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers and detectives, graduate students, UNLV Children's Research and Policy members, and other community members. We analyzed domestic violence cases that resulted in fatalities and made recommendations based on our case studies.

In 2014, I became a lead advocate for Project Resilience, the advocacy service portion of Bamboo Bridges. Thereafter, I completed domestic advocacy trainings from SafeNest, SAFE House, and UNLV's Green Dot program. I held cultural competency workshops and participated in community panel discussions on working with underrepresented communities.

In 2015, I worked closely with Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada and the LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada under a Legal Assistance Victim (LAV) grant aimed to increase legal services to the Asian Pacific Islander American and LGBTQ community. As part of this work, I facilitated translation of protection order applications and domestic violence brochures into Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Tagalog. Eventually, I became the Program Manager for a domestic violence advocacy service, recruiting bilingual and multicultural people from the community to become trained in domestic violence services.

2020 marks my sixth year serving as a Judicial Pro Tempore Hearing Master for domestic violence cases in Family Court. I have presided over thousands of cases involving requests for protection orders. When I heard arguments that an applicant is not really afraid of her abuser because she went back to him, I explained that it takes an average of seven times before a victim leaves their abuser for good. When I heard allegations containing buzz words but lacking supporting facts, I explained that protection orders carry a lot of weight and consequences that are not granted for mere annoyances and nuisances.

Last year, The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges noted research informing that "more than half of domestic violence incidents will not have been disclosed, so it's important for practitioners to understand how to effectively screen for domestic violence in the early stages of the case and to be sensitive to signs that may indicate the presence of violence and to take appropriate steps." I have significant training in power and dynamics issues involved with domestic violence, including how children are affected in these cases. I understand that children can experience trauma related to abuse. This knowledge, coupled with my degree in Psychology and experience as a school teacher, will translate into properly addressing victim and perpetrator behaviors in custody cases.