Two justices file for re-election bids

CARSON CITY -- Nevada Supreme Court Justices Ron Parraguirre and James Hardesty filed for re-election Monday, the first day of the filing period.

Both said they knew of no candidates who might challenge them.

Parraguirre and Hardesty are the only justices up for re-election this year. They each seek second six-year terms.

Under rules imposed by the court, judicial candidates will not seek contributions unless they receive opponents.

Hardesty said he has about $3,000 remaining from his 2004 campaign, and Parraguirre put his unspent campaign funds at $30,000.

Hardesty, 61, served as chief justice during the 2009 calendar year, while Parraguirre, 50, is the chief justice during 2010. Justices rotate in serving as chief justice.

In announcing his candidacy, Parraguirre said he wants to review staff operations to make sure the court is making the most efficient use of its funds. He said workers should be cross-trained so they can perform several types of jobs.

He and Hardesty both said it would be extremely difficult to cut court spending by another 10 percent, a request that might be made by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Gibbons last month asked the court system, with public schools and state agencies, to prepare lists showing how it would reduce spending by 6 percent, 8 percent and 10 percent because of falling state tax revenue. The lists are due today.

Hardesty said that the court already has reduced spending by 1.4 percent in recent weeks in response to an earlier request made by Gibbons and that in recent years has returned nearly $2.4 million to the state general fund as part of its effort to cut costs during the recession.

The court last year reduced its backlog of unresolved cases by 96, leaving 1,400 cases yet to decide. Justices disposed of about 2,200 cases in 2009.

Both candidates said they favor the establishment of a three-member intermediate appeals court that would handle some appeals from District Court decisions. Nevada is one of a handful of states without such an intermediate court.

The cost of operating such a court have been placed at less than $2 million a year.

Voters will decide on the November ballot whether to approve an appeals court, and then the Legislature would determine when it would begin. Past attempts to set up the intermediate court have failed.

Because only in rare cases would the Supreme Court hear appeals from the intermediate court, both justices said, it would help reduce the backlog of cases and bring swifter justice to people.

Hardesty said the Supreme Court has made many important decisions in recent years, including that of upholding term limits for state legislators.

"I'm proud of the work we've done during my time on the court and, with the people's support, it would be my privilege to be re-elected," he said.

Parraguirre said he "loves" being a justice and would welcome serving a second term.

Candidates can file with the secretary of state's office for the court between now and the close of business on Jan. 15.