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Nevada’s appellate caseload drops dramatically

Nevada’s appellate courts decreased their pending caseload by more than 12 percent in fiscal 2015, and the decline is expected to continue next year.

The information appears in the Annual Report of the Nevada Judiciary, being released today on the courts’ website, http://nvcourts.gov.

According to the report, the 3 percent drop in the Nevada Supreme Court’s caseload “was due in large part to the 500 cases transferred to the state’s newly formed three-judge Court of Appeals.”

The new court was approved by voters in November 2014, and its judges took the bench in January. The fiscal year ended June 30.

“I thought they did really well in the first six months,” Chief Justice James Hardesty said Monday.

According to the report, 2,402 appellate cases were filed in fiscal 2015. The Supreme Court disposed of 2,344, and the Court of Appeals disposed of 304.

“The two appellate courts in Nevada were able to decrease the total pending caseload from 1,985 last year to 1,739 cases at the end of this year,” the report states. “This was a more than 12 percent decrease in the pending caseload, and this magnitude has not been seen since fiscal year 2011.”

The total number of pending appellate cases in fiscal 2011 was 1,690.

Criminal appeals constitute the largest category of cases at both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

The two most populous district courts in Nevada — Clark and Washoe counties — represent 85 percent of the cases appealed from district courts.

This year’s report contains a new cost-per-case comparison. It indicates the cost per case in district courts is about $775, in justice courts about $116, and in municipal courts about $236.

According to the report, the analysis takes on added meaning when considering Assembly Bill 66, which was passed by the 2015 Legislature. The bill, which became effective Oct. 1, increased the claim amount thresholds in justice courts on small claims matters from $7,500 to $10,000 and on general civil matters from $10,000 to $15,000.

“This increase allows for more litigants to adjudicate matters at a lower cost to taxpayers, thereby gaining greater access to justice and reducing the burden on Nevada citizens,” the report states.

Hardesty said he hopes next year’s report will include the appellate courts in the cost-per-case comparison.

— Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710. Follow her: @CarriGeer

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