Senior District Judge Allan Earl, who served on the Clark County District Court bench for 14 years before his 2015 retirement, has died. He was 76.
Lawyers who handled construction defect cases — complex litigation that often involved thousands of homeowners — often found themselves working with Earl until the early morning hours, fellow District Judge Susan Johnson said Wednesday, recalling the attorneys’ tired eyes when they arrived in her courtroom during the regular workday.
“He was a gentleman who exhibited every virtue a good judge should have,” said Johnson, who visited with him Tuesday. “He was smart, ethical, kind and hardworking.”
Gov. Kenny Guinn appointed Earl on Dec. 5, 2000. Earl retired at the end of his term on Jan. 5, 2015, and became a senior judge.
“I have never loved a job as much as I’ve loved this one.” Earl said in a 2013 statement announcing his retirement. “It’s been a great privilege to serve in the District Court with colleagues who are truly dedicated and I will miss their association.”
Earl and Johnson would sometimes sneak out of “lawyer land,” or the downtown area around the Regional Justice Center, for lunch in order to discuss the intricacies of construction defect cases, which they called “dirt court” cases, away from familiar faces.
“He was just a workaholic,” Johnson said. “And he was my mentor as well as my friend.”
One construction defect defense lawyer, Peter Brown, recognized the dedication Earl showed from the bench, particularly as a settlement judge working those long hours.
“Judge Earl represented all that is good about the legal system in Nevada,” Brown said. “He was a tireless worker. He was firm, yet fair when you appeared in front of him. He did everything he could to get cases resolved, and so he gave quite a bit of himself in that regard.”
Chief District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez described Earl as “a great asset to this court and a wonderful human being who taught many lawyers how to think.”
Michael Sommermeyer, spokesman for Nevada’s appellate courts, announced Earl’s death in a statement Wednesday.
“To say Judge Earl was a larger than life character would be an understatement,” Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Douglas said in the statement. “He provided leadership in construction defect cases, complex litigation, and provided expertise in rewriting Nevada’s Rules of Civil Procedure. He dedicated his life to furthering the profession of law and helped make us better.”
Earl, who presided over Department 19, also oversaw discovery in the civil cases related to the Hepatitis C outbreak.
Prior to joining the bench, Earl served for 25 years as a partner in the law firm of Galatz, Earl & Associates in Las Vegas, where he specialized in personal injury trial advocacy. He had been a member of the State Bar of Nevada since 1968.
Details regarding funeral arrangements were not available Wednesday.