Judge's move to Reno means Sandoval replacement to be based in Las Vegas


Speculation about who might get a coveted lifetime appointment to replace U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval turned topsy-turvy Monday morning with the news that U.S. District Judge Clive Jones is moving to Reno to take over Sandoval’s cases.

Meaning, the soon-to-be-open-judgeship will be based in Las Vegas, not Reno.

So all those Northern Nevada names tossed about like confetti are likely to be scrapped and the choices become wide open to Southern Nevadans.

The choice will be made by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, so presumably Democratic judges and lawyers will have an edge. Reid recommends, President Barack Obama nominates, and the U.S. Senate confirms.

The news release from Chief U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt said, “Jones’ move is not unprecedented.  A number of U.S. District Judges in Nevada have begun their service in one location and then moved to another.” He cited Judge Larry Hicks, Judge Howard McKibben and even Judge Harry Claiborne as judges who have switched sites.

“Judge Jones himself served in Reno as a bankruptcy judge before relocating to Las Vegas in that capacity,” Hunt said.

Sandoval’s resignation takes effect Sept. 15, and he is then expected to formally confirm that he is a GOP candidate for governor.

A number of sitting judges, including Hunt, Hicks and Philip Pro, are expected to take senior status in the next few years, which essentially creates more judgeships for Nevada since judges still handle caseloads.

Meanwhile, the speculation will begin anew about who wants the job, who’ll get the job, and what political advantage Reid will get through his appointments.

With all the criticism of the lack of women on the U.S. District Court, I’d suspect that qualified women will be the first in line for at least the first judgeship.

And with the departure of Sandoval, the first and only Hispanic at the District Court level, Reid might also feel the urge to consider minorities to join the bench and change the look of  the all white men's club.