Bill Maupin's 30-year legal career will reach its pinnacle Monday when he becomes chief justice of the Nevada Supreme Court.
''It is the greatest experience I have had from a professional standpoint,'' the former Las Vegan said. ''I just love being on the Supreme Court.''
Maupin, 53, was elected to the Supreme Court in 1996. He becomes chief justice on Jan. 1.
''I said when I was sworn in as a justice that this is the most exciting time in history to be an American, the most exciting time to be a lawyer and the most exciting time to be a judge.''
His first responsibility as chief justice will be to swear in three of his colleagues - Myron Leavitt, Nancy Becker and Bob Rose - all of whom won re-election in November.
The court in January will determine the constitutionality of the Nevada State Education Association's proposed 4 percent business tax petition. Since the petition, if found constitutional, must go before the Legislature in February, the court will be pressed to make a quick decision.
As chief justice, Maupin said one of his priorities will be to cut into the court's backlog of about 1,800 unsettled cases. In 1997, the backlog topped 2,500.
Then, under the direction of Chief Justice Bob Rose, the size of the court was increased to seven members, up from five. Most decisions also now are made by three-justice panels, instead of the entire court.
Half of the outstanding cases have been briefed and are ready for decisions, Maupin said.
Under the state constitution, justices rotate in serving as chief justice. Each earns a chance at chief justice in the last two years of their six-year term.
Because Maupin and Cliff Young are entering the last two years of their terms, Young, active in Nevada politics since 1952, will serve in the position in 2002.
Maupin practiced law in Las Vegas for more than 20 years and spent three years on the District Court bench in Clark County before being elected to the state's highest court.