The City of Reno has appointed Truckee Meadows Community College Instructor and Paralegal/Law Program Director Henry Sotelo to the new Reno Human Rights Commission.
Reno City Council Member Neoma Jardon made the appointment, with unanimous approval by the Reno City Council.
The City’s Human Rights Commission was formed to create an expert group that advises city officials on topics related to human relations and human rights. Up to 14 members will represent diverse populations, and make program recommendations to the City Council to advance inclusion, equal opportunity, and social justice for residents and visitors.
Sotelo was chosen for his expertise with the legal justice system. In addition to teaching at TMCC, he works as a Court Appointed Legal Defender and Specialty Court Attorney in Reno Municipal Court’s DUI Court and for the upcoming Veteran’s Court.
“I hope to bring my perspectives on alternative sentencing, indigent defense and Specialty Courts to the work of the Commission,” he said. “The mission of this committee is to make recommendations to the City Council on programs to promote human rights. I expect that many of the committee's recommendations will make it into city policy and ordinance.”
Sotelo Is Excited to Serve on the Commission
So far in his career, Sotelo has been a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and Judge Pro-Tem.
“Over my 30-year legal career I have witnessed our justice system changing in many ways that make justice more fair and modern,” he said. “However, that process is dynamic and continuously evolving. Committees such as the City of Reno Human Rights Commission are important in shaping our community's view of justice and human rights. I think my career provides me with a unique perspective that can enhance the work of the Commission and I wanted to be a part of the process.”
He sees the Commission as having the power to make a positive impact.
“I have seen the justice system provide the supervision and guidance that allowed folks to change their lives for the better,” he said. “I see the future evolving toward problem-solving courts and I'm anxious to share my experiences with my fellow Commissioners.”
A specific area of interest to him concerns widely known national research studies finding that individuals with mental illness are many times misplaced to criminal systems and facilities.
“For my part, I would like to see a larger focus on increased training and awareness in the justice system's contact and processing of folks with mental health and intellectual disability issues,” Sotelo said. “In my daily work as a Legal Defender and Specialty Court Attorney, I come across many folks who get caught up in the criminal legal system who may be better suited to a treatment, non-criminal track.”
More About Sotelo
Sotelo completed his bachelor’s in journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and a Juris Doctorate from McGeorge University in Sacramento. He has been a practicing attorney in Reno for more than 25 years.