What happens when a Nevada state court judge, and specifically, a district court judge vacates the bench in the middle of his/her term? How are such vacancies filled? The Commission on Judicial Selection (Commission), which was created by Article 6, Section 20 of the Nevada State Constitution, fills mid-term vacancies for the Supreme Court of Nevada, Court of Appeals, and the district court. It is governed by NRS 1.380 through NRS 1.410 and consists of seven regular members, who serve four-year terms: the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nevada, three attorneys appointed by the bar, and three non-attorneys appointed by the Governor. For district court vacancies, two temporary members also serve until nominations are submitted to the Governor.
Notice of vacancies are provided to every active bar member and interested applicants must submit an application to the Commission by the deadline. Before the candidate selection meeting, the Commission may meet to eliminate any applicants determined to be unqualified, plan for further investigation/screening of applicants, and create subcommittees for further investigation of applicants.
Remaining applicants are interviewed during a candidate selection meeting commenced in public session. Certain portions of the meeting may be held in closed session. Three applicants are selected for submission to the Governor. If there are three or fewer qualified applicants for a vacancy, the Commission may refer all three names to the Governor without voting on the merits of the applications, postpone the selection process to solicit additional applicants, or by two-thirds vote, disqualify all applicants and re-start the process. Otherwise, voting proceeds by secret ballot in a series of rounds to narrow the pool of applicants to three candidates, whose names are delivered to the Governor in alphabetical order. The Governor appoints one candidate to fill the vacancy. The Commission may consider more than one vacancy in the same district in a single selection process.
For more detailed information on the selection process, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Selection Rules, revised October 11, 2021, may be found online at https://nvcourts.gov/AOC/Templates/documents.aspx?folderID=8938.
About this article: This article was originally published in the “Election” issue of Communiqué, the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association, (September 2022). See https://clarkcountybar.org/member-benefits/communique-2022/communique-september-2022/.
© 2022 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.