CARSON CITY — An Assembly panel voted unanimously Monday for a proposed constitutional amendment that would create an appeals court between the state’s district courts and the Supreme Court — a move twice rejected by Nevada voters.
Justice James Hardesty pushed for Senate Joint Resolution 9, telling the Assembly Judiciary Committee there’s now a business plan for the proposed court that clarifies the costs, how it would be run and what cases it would handle.
“While I personally had not been in favor of this proposition when I ran for the Supreme Court in 2004, my reason was the absence of any business plan that would specify the types of cases to be heard by an intermediate appellate court and clarify the costs of such a court. The commission report we provided to the Legislature now does that,” Hardesty said later.
The study was mandated by the 2005 Legislature as a response to the growing number of cases the Supreme Court hears. In 2006, the seven-member court reviewed more than 2,000 cases. The study says an intermediate appeal court “will ensure that the citizens of Nevada continue to have access to justice at all levels” and will provide a more efficient appeals process.
SJR9 would amend the Nevada Constitution to allow the court changes, which would cost about $1.2 million a year.
The appeals court would hold its hearings in an existing courtroom in Las Vegas that is used only occasionally by the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Bill Maupin also has pushed for SJR9, and said during a recent hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the measure is needed because of the increasing litigation that stems from Nevada’s rapid growth.
Maupin added that with a strong, professionally run campaign, proponents could make a better case for voters.
The appeals court plan has come up repeatedly in the Legislature over the past 30 years, and made it to the ballot twice — in 1980 and again in 1992 — only to be rejected by voters.
The measure unanimously passed the Senate, and there was no opposition in Monday’s Assembly Judiciary hearing.
If passed this session, SJR9 also must pass the 2009 Legislature and a vote of the people in 2010. The new appeals court judges would be elected in 2012.
Bills that also passed in Judiciary on Monday included Senate Bill 208, which prohibits employers from requiring that employees use sick leave or vacation time when reporting for jury duty. Employers also would have to ensure there’s at least an eight-hour break between an employee’s last shift and the time the worker is scheduled to start jury duty.2007 Nevada Legislature