Supremes panel system a hit

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The expanded Nevada Supreme Court, meeting in panels, resolved a record number of cases in the past nine months.

Chief Justice Bob Rose said Thursday the new system is doing just what the court promised. If it continues, he said, "the court will reduce the backlog by 400 cases in one year."

Altogether, he said the court decided 1,651 cases in the first nine months of this year.

Because the backlog was growing out of control, lawmakers added two justices to the court, expanding its membership to seven, and changed the rules so the court could decide most cases in panels of three.

In effect, that nearly doubled the number of cases the court could handle.

"All but the major, precedent setting cases are heard by the panels," said Rose.

In addition, one panel meets in the north and the other in the south, enabling the justices to cut travel time and costs for participants in those cases.

Rose said there were 2,165 cases pending at the beginning of the year. That is now down to 1,890.

He said the backlog is an important number because it gives a strong indication of how long it takes to hear and decide an appeal before the state's high court. Private citizens and businesses alike had complained that the wait was growing to several years before the panels, he said.

"The lower the backlog number, the quicker the appeals will be decided," Rose said.


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