LV lawyer files to face chief justice

CARSON CITY — Chief Justice Mark Gibbons has an opponent in his bid to win re-election to the Nevada Supreme Court with the filing Friday of Las Vegas attorney Thomas Christensen for Seat D.

Christensen was one of three candidates to file for two seats on the Supreme Court on the last day to seek judicial office.

Las Vegas attorneys Kris Pickering and Nancy Allf filed for the seat being vacated by Justice Bill Maupin, who announced Jan. 8 that he would not seek re-election after his term expires at the end of this year.

The filing against Gibbons means both of the Supreme Court seats up for election this year will be contested.

Christensen, a personal injury attorney, could not be reached for comment. He ran unsuccessfully in 2006 for the seat held by then-Supreme Court Justice Nancy Becker. Becker lost to challenger Nancy Saitta, who currently sits on the court.

Gibbons, an advocate of open government, said he will run on his record of accomplishment during his past five years on the court.

“I will present my case to the voters,” he said.

Gibbons, 57, is seeking his second term on the court. He won his first Supreme Court term unopposed in 2002. Gibbons had previously served as a judge in Clark County District Court. He first won election to District Court in 1996.

The two filings for Maupin’s seat on Friday make it a four-way race.

In addition to Pickering and Allf, Las Vegas attorney and previous high court candidate Don Chairez and Washoe County Family Court Judge Deborah Schumacher also have filed to replace Maupin.

Allf was a finalist to replace retiring Clark County District Judge Joseph Bonaventure Sr. in 2007, but was not picked by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Allf, who could not be reached for comment, is with the firm of Parsons, Behle & Latimer in Las Vegas.

Pickering, 55, is a partner in the Morris Pickering & Peterson law firm in Las Vegas. She was admitted to the Nevada bar in 1977. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a law degree from the University of California at Davis. Her area of legal practice is in civil litigation.

“I think I have the experience and qualifications,” she said. “I’ve practiced law for 30 years. I would do a good job.”

Pickering, who grew up in Reno and graduated from Reno High School, decided to file after Maupin announced his intention to step down after his term ends this year.

“I’m not a politician; I’m a lawyer,” she said. “I think I would bring a lot of commitment, energy and integrity to the job.”

Chairez, 52, a former Clark County district judge, ran against Maupin for the Supreme Court B seat in 2002 but lost. He has run for other posts as well, and worked successfully to get a measure on the ballot in 2006 to restrict the ability of governments to take private land through eminent domain. The constitutional amendment will be on the ballot again this November for a second and final vote.

Chairez also is planning to file another constitutional amendment dealing with judicial reform for the November ballot. Among other changes, it would require judges to disqualify themselves from cases if they had received campaign contributions from the involved parties, and would let voters decide on judicial replacements instead of letting the governor make such appointments.

Schumacher, 52, has served as a District Court judge since 1997 when she was appointed by then-Gov. Bob Miller to the Family Division. She was twice elected without opposition.

Before taking the bench, Schumacher was a partner in the statewide law firm of McDonald Carano Wilson, where she specialized in commercial and real estate litigation, bankruptcy and business law.

The Legislature moved the filing date for court seats to January from May as a way to reduce the influence of campaign contributions in judicial elections.

Court candidates who end up unopposed will be prohibited from soliciting campaign contributions, a change from past practice. The new rule will not be in effect for the two Supreme Court races.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or (775) 687-3900.

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