Justice of the Peace Melissa A. Saragosa
Judge Melissa Saragosa was raised in Mesa, Arizona. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of San Diego in 1990 with a Major in Psychology and a Minor in Philosophy. She continued her education at the University of San Diego School of Law, earning her Juris Doctor in 1993.
In March 1994, Judge Saragosa was selected as a direct appointee to the United States Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps. Her first active duty assignment was at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona where she worked in various positions: Chief of Legal Assistance and Preventive Law; Chief of Administrative Law; Claims Officer; and Chief of Labor Law. In 1997, she was recruited as a Circuit Trial Counsel for the Western Circuit, USAF Trial Judiciary, Travis Air Force Base, California.
In this position, she served as the lead prosecutor on court-martial cases at 18 bases in the Western region of the United States. As an additional duty, she was assigned as the Director of Training for the Western Circuit wherein she organized an annual Trial Counsel Workshop for newer JAGs and published advocacy training materials for the base level legal offices.
After two years prosecuting cases on the Circuit, Judge Saragosa separated from active duty and joined the reserve corps. As a reservist, her first office of attachment was Aviano Air Base, Italy. While living in Europe, she performed reserve duty tours for Incirlik Air Base, Turkey; Geilenkirchen Air Base, Germany; Aviano Air Base, Italy (both base office and headquarters); Appellate Government Office, and the Tort Claims Division, earning her the nomination for USAF Harmon Award for Outstanding JAG Reservist for 1999.
In 2000, Judge Saragosa relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada temporarily filling the Chief of Military Justice vacancy at Nellis Air Force Base created by the deployment of the active duty member. As a reservist, she worked as a Reserve Instructor with the Civil Division of the Air Force Judge Advocate General School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. From there, she served as a reserve military appellate judge for the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Following that assignment, she was assigned to Global Strike Command, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana as the Reserve Coordinator and Assistant Staff Judge Advocate. In 2018, she was reassigned as the Individual Mobilization Augmentee to the Director of the Air Force Judiciary at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, where she supervised over 40 reservists and aided in the development of the Manual for Courts- Martial (2019 Edition). She currently holds the rank of Colonel and serves as the Individual Mobilization Augmentee to the Command Counsel, Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. She leads a team of over 60 reserve judge advocates and paralegals.
In September 2000, she began working for the Clark County District Attorney’s Office in her civilian capacity. She worked in the Appellate Division, the Domestic Violence Unit, and on various General Litigation Teams. In February 2006, she was appointed as the Chief Deputy District Attorney of Recruiting and Training where she developed a program designed to recruit the best candidates at the optimal time of the year. She also created a formal training program for new deputy district attorneys and supervised the summer externship program.
In December 2006, Judge Saragosa was appointed by the Clark County Commissioners to fill a vacancy in Justice Court Department 4. She took the bench on January 8, 2007. In 2009, Judge Saragosa became one of only two judges presiding over the entire civil docket, including eviction actions, of the Las Vegas Justice Court. In January 2011, Judge Saragosa developed and presided over Nevada’s first Domestic Violence Court. In 2013, Judge Saragosa returned to an all civil docket where she developed a partnership with the Community Oriented Policing Division of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Through this partnership, Judge Saragosa has been active in educating the community on Landlord/Tenant laws and court procedural rules. From January 2015 to December 2016, Judge Saragosa presided over a criminal docket and was appointed by the Chief Judge as the Presiding Judge over Veterans Treatment Court and the Civil Division. As of January 2017, Judge Saragosa returned once again to an all civil docket. Judge Saragosa serves as the Chairman of the Las Vegas Justice Court’s Legislative committee, sits on the Las Vegas Justice Court’s Rules committee and was appointed as a member of the State of Nevada Standing Committee on Judicial Ethics and Committee for Evidence-Based Pretrial Release. Judge Saragosa was selected as the Nevada Judges of Limited Jurisdiction Judge of the Year for 2019. Judge Saragosa is admitted to practice law in Nevada and Maryland.
Judge Saragosa is the Chief Judge of the Las Vegas Justice Court. Her Chief Judge term is two-years: January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2022.