77°F
weather icon Clear

Judge lands Nevada Supreme Court seat after no one else files

Updated February 4, 2018 - 4:50 pm

A previous version of this column incorrectly reported the Nevada Supreme Court seat won by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Abbi Silver.A previous version of this column incorrectly reported the Nevada Supreme Court seat won by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Abbi Silver.

The Nevada Supreme Court had two open seats in this fall’s election. Now there is just one. Abbi Silver, chief judge of the Court of Appeals, was elected outright when no one filed against her.

The other seat drew five candidates, requiring a primary election to whittle them down to two and then a November general election.

Why would one nonpartisan seat draw only one person and the other five?

“I’m a hard worker, end of story,” Silver said.

Silver has a history of scaring off opponents with her relentless fundraising ability and her strong campaign skills. She will step into retiring Justice Michael Douglas’ seat without breaking a sweat and without raising a dime since judges can’t raise funds without an opponent.

Silver’s lack of opponents went unnoticed by the news media when filing ended Jan. 12, and she said she’s reluctant to broadcast it beyond friends because “until it’s in the newspaper, it doesn’t seem real.”

Justice Silver, it’s real now.

The Court of Appeals, operational in 2015, is a natural stepping stone to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Voters who approved the appellate court were told that the seven-person Supreme Court would be reduced to five members. Of course, that didn’t happen. The 2015 Legislature, supposedly acting on its own, changed the law to keep the number of judges to seven. Promises made, promises broken.

Anyway, the justice-in-waiting’s legal career certainly qualifies her for the job she will start next January.

A native Nevadan, she began her legal career when she was hired by the Clark County district attorney, where she worked for nearly 14 years before her first race, starting with the Las Vegas Municipal Court in 2003. Besides being on the municipal court and district court, she was appointed to the appellate court. It’s a natural progression.

A Republican, she’s “beyond honored” that Gov. Brian Sandoval selected her for the appellate court because he’s a former federal judge himself, who gave up the lifetime seat to run for governor. She was impressed he asked for writing samples from candidates, because he knows how important that is in a judge.

Her relentless fundraising skills probably chased away some potential challengers this year. When she ran for Justice Court in 2005 against Bernie Zadrowski, between January and March she raised $250,000. She stopped asking for money, believing that was enough. And it was.

Heated race expected

The second seat, currently held by retiring Justice Michael Cherry, will be the one with political drama.

With five candidates it will be expensive and require plenty of hard work. Expect hardball in this race.

The five are: Clark County District Judge Elissa Cadish, Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Tao, Las Vegas attorney Alan Lefebvre, Lyon County District Judge Leon Aberasturi, and Carson City attorney John Rutledge, who unsuccessfully ran for governor as a Democrat in 2014.

Cadish and Tao both have strong ties to former Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. Tao was Reid’s speechwriter, and Cadish in 2012 was proposed by Reid for a federal judgeship but was blocked by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

Despite Cadish’s reputation as a fine district judge, Heller zeroed in on a questionnaire about gun issues she had submitted to a conservative group in 2008.

She wrote that she believed “reasonable restrictions may be imposed on gun ownership in the interest of public safety.”

Cadish also wrote that she does not believe there is a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, but she would enforce the laws as they exist.

She later tried to clarify her comments, saying she was not speaking for herself but reflected the unsettled law on gun rights before the Supreme Court issued rulings on the Second Amendment that made clear an individual’s right to gun ownership.

But that fine line regarding timing probably won’t fly with gun rights advocates, especially in rural and Northern Nevada, and will make her vulnerable.

As a Democrat, Tao ran a rough campaign against Clark County Commissioner Chip Maxfield in 2004 but lost. In 2007, he re-registered as a nonpartisan. Tao was appointed to the District Court by Sandoval in 2011, so he had already been vetted by the GOP governor before being appointed to the Court of Appeals.

Both Cadish and Tao received favorable retention ratings as district judges in the high 80s in the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Judging the Judges survey in 2013.

In the only other Supreme Court race, current Justice Lidia Stiglich of Washoe County and Clark County Family Court Judge Mathew Harter face off.

If this is another “Year of the Woman” among voters, Stiglich and Cadish could hold an advantage.

Being a woman certainly didn’t hurt Silver.

A previous version of this column incorrectly reported the Nevada Supreme Court seat won by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Abbi Silver.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column runs Sundays in the Nevada section. Contact her at jane@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0275. Follow @janeannmorrison on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
THE LATEST
Cab riders experiencing no-shows urged to file complaints

If a cabbie doesn’t show, you must file a complaint. Otherwise, the authority will keep on insisting it’s just not a problem, according to columnist Jane Ann Morrison. And that’s not what she’s hearing.

Are no-shows by Las Vegas taxis usual or abnormal?

In May former Las Vegas planning commissioner Byron Goynes waited an hour for a Western Cab taxi that never came. Is this routine or an anomaly?

Columnist shares dad’s story of long-term cancer survival

Columnist Jane Ann Morrison shares her 88-year-old father’s story as a longtime cancer survivor to remind people that a cancer diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean a hopeless end.

Las Vegas author pens a thriller, ‘Red Agenda’

If you’re looking for a good summer read, Jane Ann Morrison has a real page turner to recommend — “Red Agenda,” written by Cameron Poe, the pseudonym for Las Vegan Barry Cameron Lindemann.

Las Vegas woman fights to stop female genital mutilation

Selifa Boukari McGreevy wants to bring attention to the horrors of female genital mutilation by sharing her own experience. But it’s not easy to hear. And it won’t be easy to read.

Biases of federal court’s Judge Jones waste public funds

Nevada’s most overturned federal judge — Robert Clive Jones — was overturned yet again in one case and removed from another because of his bias against the U.S. government.

Don’t forget Jay Sarno’s contributions to Las Vegas

Steve Wynn isn’t the only casino developer who deserves credit for changing the face of Las Vegas. Jay Sarno, who opened Caesars Palace in 1966 and Circus Circus in 1968, more than earned his share of credit too.

John Momot’s death prompts memories of 1979 car fire

Las Vegas attorney John Momot Jr. was as fine a man as people said after he died April 12 at age 74. I liked and admired his legal abilities as a criminal defense attorney. But there was a mysterious moment in Momot’s past.