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Jurist ready to continue family path

ELKO — Nancy Porter used to clean the courtroom where she will mete out justice as the first female district judge in Elko County history.

Porter was sworn into office on Friday. She said she can’t wait to start carrying out a long-standing family tradition in the county. Her father, Dale Porter, served two terms as a city councilman and three terms as a county commissioner before his death early last year. Her mother, Janet Strickland, is a retired court administrator.

“I can’t imagine doing this job anywhere but here,” she told the Elko Daily Free Press after Gov. Brian Sandoval appointed her to fill the vacancy on the bench left by Judge Mike Memeo’s retirement on Nov. 1.

The new judge remembers visiting the Elko County courthouse for the first time at age 4 accompanied by her mother. Her father was testifying in a case in front of Judge Taylor Wines in the same courtroom where Porter will preside.

“From the time she was a little girl she was very focused on what she wanted to accomplish in life,” Strickland said. “She just has worked very hard.”

During college, Nancy Porter worked as the courthouse gardener during the summer months. When the janitor would take vacation, she would spend the days cleaning the courtroom.

When she found out she had been appointed to the bench, she went directly to her mother’s house to share the news.

“I just looked at her, and she said ‘I did it,’ ” Strickland said. “We just hugged. I felt so strongly that she would get it.”

“To marry and have children during all of this is not an easy feat for any woman who knows what it’s like to work and have children and raise them and have a career,” Strickland said of her daughter. “You have to remain dedicated and focused on what you’re doing.”

Porter said a strong support system helps, crediting husband Jeff Hanley for assuming responsibilities at home for the children.

“He keeps the home fires burning so I can do what I do to support our family, and he’s been very supportive of my decision to pursue this,” she said.

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