First, let me begin by stating that there is no actual need for this office to exist. It is a carry-over from the 19th century when there were few law enforcement officers available in the rural areas. Only a few states continue to have constables. Their function can easily be replicated by civil divisions of sheriffs’ or local police offices, by legal messenger services (private), and in many cases by using Postal Certified Mail. In addition, for small claims court, which is a large part of the documents now requiring constable service, most states allow a non-related third party to serve the summons.
With that said, since we still have this archaic office, it is well past time to put a new person in this position. The incumbent stated that the salary is miniscule, I assume intimating that it is very little cost to the taxpayers. However, what he did NOT state is the astronomical fee he charges to serve these documents, which is born by the parties involved. $ versus $ for certified mail or nothing if a 3rd party serves the notice.
In addition, my personal experience with this office should guide anyone who planned to vote for the incumbent to consider the challenger, Shawn Hughes. Small claims court summons in Mesquite Justice Court must be personally served by the constable, no other option is available. Without personal service the “return of service” document presented in court is invalid, however my document was “served” by this person tucking it into the flap of a box delivered to my doorstep when I was out of town. My packages were being picked up by my neighbor. When I returned and retrieved my packages, I found the document. My court date was THE NEXT DAY!! Had I returned a day later, I would have had a default judgment entered in favor of the plaintiff with no recourse but to pay thousands of dollars that I did not owe. When I contacted the Justice Court personnel, I was met with an astounding reply, “Well, you got it didn’t you? You can request an extension for a new court date?” Obviously, this type of illegal behavior must have been standard practice. I will state that this was under the previous “judge,” who was not an attorney, and I would be surprised to find that Judge Toone would allow such illegal behavior if he was aware of it.
The case did not end here. My husband, no party to the action, was illegally dragged into the case and he was later also served papers by this constable. This time he put it in an envelope and stuffed it into the newspaper. It just so happened that we were collecting our neighbor’s newspaper while they were out of town and I assume the newspapers got switched as we did not receive this notice until our neighbors returned and found it in their paper. To continue, my husband was aware of this “service” since the constable LEFT A MESSAGE ON OUR ANSWERING MACHINE!!” saying, “See you in court on Tuesday, Tom.” Two illegal actions combined into one service!
I have witnesses to both incidents, including former city council member Kraig Hafen and former major Mark Weir, along with former county commissioner, Tom Collins, all of whom I met at a public meeting and showed them the UNOPENED sealed letter inside the newspaper and told them I knew what it said and explained the phone message. I had them open it to confirm this.
Tom Collins helped me contact the only office in Las Vegas that has very loose supervision over constables and the person I spoke with said, “complaints about constables are the bane of my existence, but there’s very little I can do as they are elected.” There was a huge scandal involving the Las Vegas Constable about the time this incident happened to me.
Until we can abolish this office, statewide, please join me in voting for Shawn Hughes. The Hughes family is well known and respected in this town and I’m sure Shawn is a very honorable man.