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Greenberg Traurig’s Tami Cowden Secures Significant Nevada Family Law Decision

LAS VEGAS – Oct. 25, 2017 – On Sept. 27, 2017, a pro bono client represented by Tami D. Cowden, Las Vegas attorney at Greenberg Traurig, LLP benefited from a published opinion outlining specific requirements for interviewing child witnesses in the Nevada Supreme Court setting precedent for future court proceedings.

In Gordon v. Geiger, 133 Nev. Adv. Op. 69, the Supreme Court reversed a district court order that had increased a father’s visitation time, and placed certain restrictions on the mother’s exercise of primary physical custody. The Supreme Court determined that the mother’s due process rights had been violated, because the mother had not received sufficient notice that such issues would be addressed, and was not afforded an opportunity to rebut the allegations made by the District Court. The Supreme Court also determined that the lower court’s order was not supported by sufficient evidence, because it had been based on unrecorded interviews with the minor children. The Supreme Court also provided guidance for such interviews, requiring that NRS 50.500, et. seq, and NRCP 16.215 must be followed. Among the requirements are that the interview must be recorded, and the parties must be afforded the opportunity for cross examination. The Court also noted that children must be sworn during such interviews, citing NRS 50.035.

Cowden was appointed to represent the mother after the court had referred the matter to Nevada’s Appellate Pro Bono Program, having determined that appointment of pro bono counsel could assist the court in reviewing the appeal. The Nevada Supreme Court, Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, and the Pro Bono Committee of the State Bar of Nevada’s Appellate Litigation Section established the Appellate Pro Bono Program to provide pro bono attorneys for eligible unrepresented parties in certain civil appeals and writ petitions. This is Cowden’s second time participating in the program. Her first representation in the program also resulted in a published Nevada Supreme Court opinion favoring her client: Lewis v. Lewis, 132 Nev. Adv. Op 46 (2016).

The Gordon opinion may prove significant as it is likely that numerous interviews in other cases have been conducted in ways that will not have complied with these requirements.

“We are proud of the continued achievements of Tami," said Michael J. Bonner, co-managing shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Las Vegas office. “At Greenberg Traurig, our attorneys are encouraged to demonstrate leadership both professionally and within the community. Tami continues to set an example for others.”

Cowden has nearly 30 years' experience as an appellate attorney with a focus on representations in the Nevada Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In local state and federal trial courts, she represents client in complex business and employment litigation matters. Cowden was the founding Chair of the State Bar’s Appellate Litigation Section and sits on the Supreme Court Bench-Bar Committee. Before joining the firm, Cowden was a member of the faculty of the University of Denver College of Law. She also served as a staff attorney with the Colorado Court of Appeals for several years.

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Greenberg Traurig, LLP (GTLaw) has more than 2,000 attorneys in 38 offices in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East and is celebrating its 50th anniversary. GTLaw has been recognized for its philanthropic giving, was named the largest firm in the U.S. by Law360 in 2017, and among the Top 20 on the 2016 Am Law Global 100. Web: Twitter: @GT_Law.