New high court plan to expedite business-related cases

A new case management system, including two courts designed to specialize in business-related lawsuits, was unanimously approved for the Clark County court system by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Clark County District Judge Michael Douglas told the court Friday that the new case management plan is a blend of old and new ideas designed to get cases resolved as quickly as possible. It will take effect Jan. 1.

Besides adding specialization, such as the business courts, the plan also changes the current system of separate civil and criminal courts back to a former system where judges hear both types of cases. It also sets up new duties for the chief judge, with more time devoted to administrative matters.

There has been some concern that a recent trend toward increased specialization in courtrooms was creating a two-tiered system of justice, with priority given to one type of a case over another, Douglas said.

The new plan is intended to offer some specialization where it will do the most good, while reducing its use in most courtrooms, Douglas added.

''We're going to try this approach until the end of 2002 and see how it works,'' he said.

Under the new plan, District Judge Gene Porter will become the chief judge in January and will have the task of working with the Legislature.

Douglas and District Judge James Mahan will conduct business court. The drug court will continue to be handled by District Judge Jack Lehman.

Five other judges will handle civil or criminal cases only, but the remaining 10 judges will handle both civil and criminal cases on a 50-50 split.

All judges will take cases on an overflow basis, including the chief judge and the business court judges.

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