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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Nevada Voters Approve a New Appeals Court

CARSON CITY (CN) - Nevada's new court of appeals will be up and running in January, after voters approved its creation on Nov. 4.

Ballot Question 1 asked if the state constitution should be amended to create a court of appeals staffed by three judges. The Nevada Supreme Court will determine the types of decisions the appeals court will hear and determine when an appeals court ruling will go to the state supreme court.

The new court is intended to take pressure off the seven-member Nevada Supreme Court, which is the state's only court that hears appeals of district court decisions.

Voters narrowly approved the measure, with 53.8 percent, or 287,183 voting yes to 246,837 voting no.

Nevada's election leaves just nine states without intermediate appeals courts.

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 empowers the governor to appoint three judges from a pool of candidates provided by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Selection.

The three judges will serve two-year terms and then face election to six-year terms starting during the 2016 general election. The Legislature can increase the number of appellate judges.

"We do have the busiest Supreme Court in the nation. Hopefully with the implementation of the appellate court it will expedite those more difficult cases before the Nevada Supreme Court," Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Because it was the only court handling appeals, Nevada's Supreme Court took longer to hear cases and 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, and appeals of criminal cases two to three years to complete due to a backlog of appeals cases 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 averages 333 cases per judge in 2013, the state reported.

Thirty-six candidates have submitted applications for appointment to the appeals court. The three appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval will take office on Jan. 5.

States remaining without intermediate appeals courts are Delaware, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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