(CN) – The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a family court judge off the bench, rejecting the extension of his temporary appointment. Judge Robert Teuton’s term expired on Jan. 5 this year, the justices said.
The state Constitution lets the governor appoint a judge to fill a judicial vacancy until “the first Monday of January following the next general election.”
In July 2008, a family court judge in the 8th District Court resigned two and a half years before his term expired.
A month later, Gov. Jim Gibbons appointed Teuton to fill the vacancy. But the judge’s office was not placed on the 2008 ballot; instead, Teuton’s appointment was extended.
Former family court Judge Robert Lueck challenged the extension as a violation of the state’s process for electing judges. Teuton and Gibbons claimed that Teuton’s term expired after the 2010 general election, because that’s the “next general election” in which the vacancy can be realistically filled, given all the election deadlines.
The Nevada high court said Lueck lacked standing, but agreed to consider the issue based on its “supervisory responsibilities over the judicial branch.”
It held that Teuton’s appointment expired the first January after the November 2008 election.
“In view of the apparent intent behind the Nevada Constitution’s ‘next general election’ language to allow Nevada citizens to elect a new district judge as soon as possible after an office becomes vacant and to correspondingly limit the Governor’s appointment powers, we conclude that judicial vacancy appointments expire on the first Monday in January after the first general election following that appointment, without exception,” Justice Cherry wrote.
The court added that decisions made by Teuton after Jan. 5 are still valid.
The justices ordered a clerk to inform Gibbons that he must declare Teuton’s office vacant.