Jasmin Lilly-Spells, Esq.
by Naiomi Pitre
“Oftentimes, the justice system judges a person based only upon a criminal act (or a small timeframe in their life), which may have been their worst day, worst fault or biggest mistake,” notes attorney Jasmin Lilly-Spells of the Clark County Public Defender’s Office.
Humanizing the accused and bringing forth the factors that have led to the client’s day in court is Jasmin’s specialty. Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, she is a first generational college graduate, achieving a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Law and Society from University of California, Irvine, in 2005. This was no simple feat, seeing as during parts of her childhood she was in an environment that exposed her to poverty, broken families and addiction.
At the age of sixteen, Jasmin discovered that her cousin had been shot and killed by the police. This personal tragedy sparked her interest in the criminal justice system and its effect on families and communities at large. She decided to go to law school, not just for herself, but for her family, her community, and to be an agent of change.
After moving to Las Vegas in 2006, Lilly-Spells graduated from the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV three years later. Passing both the Nevada and California state bars on her first try, she is dually licensed in both states. Having completed her goal of being a practicing lawyer, Jasmin married her husband, a U.S. military veteran, in November 2009. They have four children together, ranging in ages from two to eleven years old. She is extremely family-oriented and loves spending quality time with her children.
Jasmin Lilly-Spells attributes her success as a Public Defender and Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) to children in the abuse and neglect system to be an active listener who is organized and solution-oriented. She wants her clients to feel as if their voice is truly being heard, and she works hard to make sure they know that their opinion matters. Lilly-Spells is eager to try new tactics to fix the root problem that brought the parties to the courtroom, rather than reacting to this one snapshot of time in the person’s life. Her time as a CASA volunteer gave her fascinating insight as to the effect a person's childhood has on their future. As a criminal defense attorney, Jasmin sees firsthand that many people accused of committing crimes are suffering with drug addictions and/or untreated mental illnesses. She was able to witness those adults when they were only children through the CASA program. Her experience showed her that there were many factors that contribute to adults committing illegal behavior and how the system can be improved.
In regard to the upcoming 2020 election, Jasmin encourages constituents to show up and show out. “I would like to impress upon readers the importance of voting. Some people may say that the system is rigged. My response is that if voting didn't matter, we would not see those in power creating policies that limit women and minority's ability to vote. Local politics matter because local politicians are making decisions about areas that affect your daily life, like healthcare, education, and criminal justice. If you don't vote, you give up your voice and your ability to have a seat at the table. Please grab a friend or two and vote the entire ballot!"
As Lilly-Spells runs for a seat on the Eighth Judicial District Court in Department 23, she plans on offering a unique approach to administering justice and serving her community. She believes in balancing compassion with just punishment, as she realizes that legal decisions are long-lasting. Jasmin Lilly-Spells is trained, ready, and able to do the work. She knows that when it comes to justice, one size does not fit all.
This article originally published in
DECEMBER 2019 EDITION of The Urban Voice, Las Vegas
on Friday, December 6, 2019.
Re-Printed with the permission of its Publisher Joseph C. Abraham.
© 2019 All rights reserved.