LAS VEGAS (CN) - Wednesday marked the first day the newly implemented Nevada Court of Appeals heard cases.
The court heard four cases on its first day. Those cases originated in Clark County District Court and involve a pool and spa company product liability; a personal injury arising from a traffic accident; a robbery, kidnapping and burglary conviction; and a sexual assault and incest conviction.
Judges Michael Gibbons, Jerome Tao and Abbi Silver were sworn in as appellate court judges on Jan. 5 and are hearing the oral arguments at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas.
The three judges will serve two-year terms and then face election to six-year terms starting with the 2016 general election. The Legislature can increase the number of appellate judges.
Ballot Question 1 asked if the state constitution should be amended to create a court of appeals staffed by three judges. Voters in November narrowly approved creating the appeals court, with 287,183 in favor and 246,837 against the measure.
The Nevada Supreme Court will determine the types of decisions the appeals court will hear and when an appeals court ruling will go to the Silver State's highest court.
The new court is intended to take pressure off the seven-member high court, which was the only court that heard appeals of district court decisions. As the only court handling appeals, it took longer to hear cases and the justices had less time to focus on larger cases.
It will continue to hear appeals.
Reviews of child custody decisions can take more than four years to complete, while appeals of criminal cases take two to three years to complete due to a backlog of appeals before the Nevada Supreme Court, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
The American Bar Association suggests the annual caseload for an appellate judge be 100 cases per year, but the Nevada Supreme Court averaged 333 cases per judge in 2013, the state reported.
The Nevada Constitution created the state's court system, which includes district and municipal courts, justices of the peace and the Nevada Supreme Court. Ballot Measure 1 empowered the governor to appoint three judges from a pool of candidates provided by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Selection.
States without intermediate appeals courts include Delaware, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.