85°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

STATE BALLOT QUESTION 2 (Appellate court)

The third branch of state government will receive significant voter attention this year with two questions on the ballot that could fundamentally alter the Nevada judiciary.

While the high court has taken no position on Question 1, which would change the way judges are selected, justices firmly endorse Question 2, which would establish an intermediate appellate court.

“Empowering the Legislature to create the court of appeals is a necessary, efficient and effective way to ensure that all Nevadans have continued ability to resolve disputes in a timely fashion,” said Chief Justice Ron Parraguirre in an appeal for voter support.

There are strong signs Nevadans will accommodate him. In a Las Vegas Review-Journal/8NewsNow poll in July, 58 percent of those surveyed favor establishment of an appellate court. No organized opposition group has emerged.

Yet voters have twice rejected similar ballot questions, most recently in 1992. Since then, however, Nevada’s population has nearly tripled and the state’s high court has become a bottleneck.

Establishing an intermediate court requires amending the state constitution. Startup costs are expected to be minimal because the court system has already set aside nearly $4.5 million. Annual operating costs are projected at $1.66 million, including salaries for judges. Current Supreme Court staff would also serve the new court, which would share existing facilities in Las Vegas and Carson City.

The Nevada Court of Appeals, according to Parraguirre, would have three judges with statewide jurisdiction. The panel would handle about 700 standard cases a year, and in turn allow the Supreme Court to “concentrate on more complex, precedent-setting cases, death penalty and constitutional issues.”

The proposed court would be a “pushdown” court, meaning the hundreds of appeals filed each year would continue to go to the Supreme Court, which would then “push down” that don’t set precedent.

The seven high court justices will still have plenty of work: About 2,200 district court cases are appealed each year, or about 350 cases per justice. By comparison, Arizona Supreme Court justices handle roughly 210 cases per year. In California it’s 190, and in Utah it’s 110. Those states all have intermediate appellate courts.

“The Nevada Supreme Court is one of the busiest appellate courts in the country, and one of only 11 jurisdictions without a court of appeals,” Parraguirre said. “The ability to address appeals in a thoughtful and timely manner is critical for those in the legal process.”

Only West Virginia’s highest court has a busier docket than Nevada, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics.

Parraguirre said delayed decisions for both criminal defendants and crime victims and their families prevent them from obtaining “certainty” and “closure.”

In Family Court cases, he said, the placement and welfare of children can be adversely affected.

“Prolonged litigation extracts a tremendous financial and emotional toll,” he said.

Parraguirre, who runs unopposed on Nov. 2, concedes that despite its best efforts, the high court struggles to keep up. As the state’s court of last resort, every appeal filed, from driver’s license revocations to death penalty cases, winds up on the high court’s doorstep.

An intermediate appellate court will help the court maintain “high judicial quality,” said Parraguirre, and more efficiently manage all appeals by establishing minimal delays in processing, which in turn would help the high court render timely and thoughtful decisions.

Contact Doug McMurdo at dmcmurdo@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512 or read more courts coverage at lvlegalnews.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Week in Pictures: April 28-May4

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Las Vegas Science & Technology Festival, Pirate Fest, weather and Canelo vs. Jacobs. Children play inside a hot air balloon provided by Las Vegas Balloon Rides during the Las Vegas Science & Technology Festival on Saturday, May 4, […]

Week in Pictures: April 21-April 27

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Golden Knights playoffs, Raiders draft and WBA lightweight championship bout. The Meadows School third baseman Sam Kaplan looks in a high ground ball during fielding practice, he will play at Cornell University next year on Wednesday, April 24, […]

Week in Pictures: April 14-April 20

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Golden Knights playoffs and Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend. The Pink Moon, the nickname for April’s full moon, is not pink at all but yellow and sets in the west behind the Raiders Stadium early on Friday, April […]

Week in Pictures: March 17-March 23

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Vegas Golden Knights, Cesar Chavez Day festival, prep baseball and El Cortez shooting. Brooklyn Ruiz, 10, center, of Redlands, Calif., jumps out of the pool while playing with her cousin, Analyce Lopez, 11, of Redlands, Calif., left, and […]

Week in Pictures: March 10-March 16

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including the West Coast Conference tournament, the Mountain West tournament and the Pac-12 tournament. The Stanford Cardinals celebrate after defeating the Oregon Ducks during a NCAA college basketball game in the final of the Pac-12 women’s tournament at the […]

Week in Pictures: Jan. 14-20

Take a look at some striking pictures from Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including weather features, a boxing match and the super blood wolf moon. Ronald Holmes plays the alto saxophone on The Strip as dark clouds move in on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Las Vegas. Clouds, rain and snow are expected in […]

7 ways autocomplete can get smarter

Autocomplete is one of the best (or depending on how hastily you push ‘send’ – worst) things in the world. We rely on it so much that Google plans to let us autocomplete whole emails. Here are seven ways predictive input can improve. 1. Recognizing names from previous emails Jakub Kokoszka has a tough name to […]

Movie posters might soon be based on your clicks

You may have thought you left Blockbuster behind, but the basic way we browse movies hasn’t changed all that much. We peruse poster after poster, kind of like walking the aisles of a ‘90s-era video store. That one poster image, meant to appeal to as many people as possible, is often all we see before […]

What I’ll be covering at NAB 2018

The National Association of Broadcasters show kicks off this weekend in Las Vegas.  The show focuses on new and emerging technologies and trends in relation to the media and entertainment industries. As it’s not open to the public, I’ll be at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday to share some of […]