Strategically Planning for the Judiciary’s Future

By Chief Justice James W. Hardesty

As I discussed in this space in March, the Supreme Court of Nevada has a sizable agenda this year. I would like to provide an update on three areas of interest.

First, the Court moved closer to developing and adopting a strategic plan to advance the Court’s mission and to sustain innovations implemented during the pandemic. The State Justice Institute awarded the Nevada Judiciary a $55,000 grant to partner with the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) in the development of a Plan for Nevada. The process will take nine months, with the final product being the focus of the Judiciary’s 2022 Leadership Summit to be held next May.

What does that mean for you? Over the next few months, an online user survey will be widely disseminated seeking input on the future of the Nevada Judiciary. Individual and group interviews will take place to better understand how we can further accomplish our core values. The NCSC will collect and analyze user responses to provide the Court with recommendations that anticipate the future for the judiciary’s accessibility, timeliness, and efficiency, and set the agenda and action steps to achieve adopted goals and objectives. The success of this process is dependent on participation from all of us that work with and within the Nevada Judiciary. This fall, be on the lookout for an invitation to provide your perspective through our survey.

Second, we remain focused on reducing the back-log of cases in our courts created by the pandemic. This problem is a clear and present danger to fair and equal justice in Nevada. The numbers in the Eighth Judicial District Court speak volumes about the seriousness of this situation. For example, as of July 15, 2021, there are 386 open murder cases, 1,898 criminal cases, and 6,696 civil cases pending in the district. While improvement has been made in the status of domestic, delinquency, dependency, and probate, there is much to do to bring the docket under control and provide timely disposition for many cases. I want to thank Chief Judge Bell, her colleagues, and the Senior Judge Program for all their work to improve the situation. Moving jury trials forward, expanding courtroom capacity, assigning cases to overflow, providing coverage for judges in criminal trials, and increasing settlement conferences in criminal cases are critical to this effort. The cooperation and input from the bar is essential to this process and we welcome all suggestions to help the judicial system provide timely, efficient adjudication of the pending and forthcoming cases.

Third, the Supreme Court has initiated three commissions that will be critical to the future of the judicial system. Justices Pickering and Silver have been appointed to co-chair the Court’s commission studying revisions to the Nevada Rules of Appellate Procedure. Associate Chief Justice Parraguirre has been appointed to chair the newly formed commission to study the rules and statutes on the Judicial Discipline Commission and the Judicial Code of Conduct. And Justice Herndon and I will co-chair the commission to study statewide rules for the use of virtual hearings in a post pandemic environment. Please let me know if you have an interest in serving on any of these commissions. In addition, I am pleased to announce the resumption of the Statewide Judicial Summit in May 2022. Justices Stiglich and Cadish have agreed to co-chair this important conference for the state’s judiciary.

Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the recent retirement of district court Judge Betsy Gonzalez and thank her for all her hard work, dedication, and leadership on the district court and to the citizens of Nevada.

Respectfully, Chief Justice James W. Hardesty

About the author
Chief Justice James W. Hardesty

Chief Justice James W. Hardesty has been a Justice on the Nevada Supreme Court since 2005. He previously served as Chief Justice in 2009 and 2015.

About this article: This article was originally published in the “Real Estate Law” issue of Communiqué, the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association, (Sep. 2021). See https://clarkcountybar.org/about/member-benefits/communique-2021/communique-september-2021/.

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