NV 8 Dept 23 2020

The panelist reviews on these two candidates were a bit mixed. Armstrong was said by one panelist to be “competent”; that same panelist thinks he “will be a very good judge.” Another added that Armstrong has had a “diverse career.” But one said he “just doesn’t have a great grasp of the law.” Lilly-Spells was viewed positively by many. One said “she’s more than qualified to be a judge.” Another said she “does a great job day in and day out” and is a “great candidate.” Two did not know her.

Armstrong is an appeals officer for the Nevada Department of Administration's Hearings Division, meaning he presides over appeals of administration decisions. Prior to that, Armstrong was a private attorney for civil matters, worked as a prosecutor for the Nevada attorney general’s office, an assistant public defender in Cook County, Illinois, and a law clerk for the Eighth Judicial District Court. Armstrong has experience in civil law and both sides of criminal law. His self-reported cases include a number of habeas corpus petitions that he defended the State against as a deputy attorney general and one civil action, Reynolds v. Wolff, in which he successfully defended the State against allegations of constitutional violations against inmates. Armstrong serves as a board member for the Southern Nevada Child Advocacy Center Foundation and has served as a commissioner for the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline for 18 years. He also served for 12 years as a panel member for Attorney Discipline in Nevada. 

Lilly-Spells is a chief deputy public defender and has been employed by the Clark County Public Defender’s Office for 11 years. She has also served as a court-appointed special advocate, a volunteer mediator with Neighborhood Justice Center and a volunteer parking arbitrator. At least 50 percent of her work requires her to be in court and she has tried approximately 25 cases, 15 of which have been jury trials. One of her self-reported cases, Merlino v. State, ultimately clarified Nevada’s test to determine the outer boundary of a building for the purpose of burglary charges by finding that a person does not enter a building when placing items in a retractable sliding tray of a drive-through window. In Yandell v. State, Lilly-Spells argued that the prosecution had stricken 67 percent of potential black jurors during voir dire. However, the Nevada Supreme Court found that the State had plausible, race-neutral reasons for the two strikes that had been challenged. She is passionate about equal access to justice, child welfare issues and combating excessive use of force by law enforcement. 

Neither candidate has ever been sanctioned by a court for bad behavior or has a record of prosecutorial misconduct.