Pickering pushes support for Nevada appellate court
March 2, 2013
Kris Pickering, chief justice of the Nevada Supreme Court, told lawmakers Friday that support for a constitutional amendment creating an appellate court between the high court and district court levels is vital if the system is to continue working for Nevadans.That proposed ballot question has gone through the Legislature once. If approved again this session, it will go before voters in the 2014 general election.She said it took from statehood in 1864 to August 1977 for the first 10,000 cases to be filed. Since, she said, 40,000 cases have been taken to the Supreme Court.“Because parties have the right to appellate review, the Supreme Court … is constitutionally obligated to hear and decide all appeals,” she said.The court’s case load has increased every year, and it’s now handling some 365 cases per judge each year, Pickering said.“That is one of the highest if not the highest per-justice mandatory review case loads in the country,” she told a joint session of the Senate and Assembly.The number of published opinions is dropping because of the case load “and will continue to fall,” Pickering said.The amendment proposes creating a three-judge appellate court to handle many of the cases that now require action by the Supreme Court, relieving them of a substantial part of the case load they now deal with. Many of those would be the appeals necessary to simply correct a judicial error at the lower level.The idea has been before the voters more than once in the past, most recently in 2010. But according to a recent survey by the Retail Association of Nevada, Nevadans now support the concept 48 percent to 42 percent.