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Justice Hardesty gives tour of Nevada Supreme Court building set to open Monday

Updated March 24, 2017 - 11:18 pm

Nevada Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty stood proudly outside the 26,600-square-foot marble structure at Clark Avenue and Fourth Street on Friday, pointing to the county, state and court seals etched around the top.

A brass entrance resembled a scaled-down version of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

Fifty stars circle the dome, with Lady Justice perched atop, a sword extended in her right hand.

What Hardesty seems to appreciate most is that the ornate details also serve functions: from the tip of the sword, which also acts as a lightning rod, to the sturdy foundation that he said represents justice and its permanence in Nevada.

The high court broke from its lease with the county to move to the new building and will save about $2 per square foot and pay roughly $500,000 less in rent over the next 10 years, Hardesty said.

Fellow justices and staff save at least 40 minutes of productivity by having an adjacent parking lot and not having to wait for elevators that take them to the top floor of the main Las Vegas courthouse, built in 2005.

When two Roman statues were placed in front of the new two-story building, Hardesty ordered them taken away because he felt there was no purpose.

“We’re here to do our jobs,” he said, explaining the juxtaposition of the unadorned justices’ conference room with the ornate decoration of the wood-ceiling in the lobby.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Monday, and justices are expected to hear arguments for the first time on April 3.

The arched ceilings inside the only courtroom bolster sound, and the nearby robing room helps justices settle in quickly on the bench.

Even the marble planter boxes and 1-ton stone balls surrounding the building are there for a reason: any driver, either intentional or out-of-control, could not smash into the structure.

Meanwhile, there’s an unusual court battle of sorts happening at 200 Lewis Ave., as various elected officials vie for the now-vacant space on the 17th floor that was occupied by the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

Chief Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez wants the space for complex litigation, both criminal and civil cases that require advanced technology and extra space for myriad lawyers and stacks of file-storage boxes.

At one point, there was talk in the legal community about building another courthouse for those cases. What was once the Complex Litigation Center, a few blocks away, was sold to Zappos after attorneys and the judge realized the facility could not accommodate a complex case such as a lawsuit over City Center construction.

Gonzalez said she’s also discussed the possibility of dividing the courtroom into an area for both District Court and Las Vegas Justice Court.

Clark County’s top prosecutor Steve Wolfson also has expressed interest in top story. That could make more room for courtrooms on the third and ninth floors, where district attorney’s offices are located, and possibly be more convenient for the public.

Wolfson declined to comment, other than to say that he needed the space and confirm that he was asked about the 17th floor.

County spokesman Erik Pappa said the area would temporarily be used for non-jury and motion hearings.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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