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New business court called unnecessary

A legislative subcommittee will support having business court judges publish decisions instead of pushing to establish a Chancery or business court, a report issued Wednesday by the Legislative Counsel Bureau shows.

"Nobody convinced me of the need to have a specific, constitutionally recognized Chancery court," said state Sen. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas, a member of the subcommittee that looked at the Legislature’s role in establishing a separate court. "We’ve got a business court system that seems to be working just fine picking up case load."

Care said only three states, Tennessee, Mississippi and Delaware, have Chancery Courts to handle business equity disputes. A constitutional amendment would be required to establish such a court in Nevada.

The six-member subcommittee, which held four sessions last year, submitted a bill request for the Legislative session, which begins Monday, that "provides for the publication of business court opinions under certain circumstances."

Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, one of three District Court judges in Nevada handling business cases, said published decisions would provide attorneys with case law from business court decisions.

"Right now, the information (the attorneys) provide is essentially anecdotal," Gonzalez said. "They can tell (clients) what happened in a particular case, but there is not a published decision to cite to for that reason."

Current court rules don’t allow the publishing of decisions although the Supreme Court will consider changing this.

The state Supreme Court is seeking the funding for the cost of writing and publishing the business court opinions as part of its 2009-11 budget request. The funding would probably have to come through increased filing fees or other charges through the court, Care said.

Gonzalez said she now has nearly 300 business court cases before her, along with criminal and civil cases. If the publication rule was adopted, she said her nonbusiness court caseload would have to be reduced, and assistants and attorneys would have to be hired to help draft the opinions for publication.

The business court system was established in October 2006 when the state Supreme Court ordered the 2nd and 8th District Courts to appoint judges from its current pool to handle business cases.

The subcommittee also recommended support of the state Supreme Court’s fiscal request with letters to Gov. Jim Gibbons, the Senate Committee on Finance and the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means.

The subcommittee also supported a state Senate joint resolution to establish an intermediate appeals court in Nevada. The resolution would go before the voters in 2010 if adopted.

Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.

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