The Nevada Commission on Judicial Selection has decided to open up its interviews and deliberations to the public.
The seven-member commission voted Dec. 18 that the process of screening applicants for judicial appointment in Nevada should be done in the open. Until now, much of the process was conducted behind closed doors.
A spokesman for Chief Justice Bill Maupin said personal ID information about the applicants and health details will remain confidential as will letters of comment about the candidates and letters of reference, to ensure that the authors can be candid.
"The commission believes in the quality of the process and firmly believes the public should see it," Maupin said.
He said the new rules will apply the next time there is a vacancy and he believes opening the process will demonstrate to the public that the commission finds and selects the best nominees for Nevada's courts. He said it's "an experiment in open government we know will succeed."
Nevada elects its judges from the justice courts through the Supreme Court. But when a judge leaves office for whatever reason mid-term, the governor appoints a replacement to serve until the next general election.
The most recent appointment made by Gov. Jim Gibbons was Todd Russell, who replaced retiring Mike Griffin in Carson District Court.
The commission is responsible for collecting nominations, doing background investigations, interviewing and evaluating the nominees. The commission selects the three best applicants and submits them to the governor, who selects which one he believes would best serve the district or county.
The commission consists of the chief justice, three non-lawyers appointed by the governor and three lawyers named by the State Bar of Nevada. Neither the bar nor governor can name more than two members from the same party or more than one from the same county.
For district court vacancies, two temporary members are appointed for each vacancy - one lawyer and one non-lawyer. They must be residents of the district where the vacancy occurred and serve only for the selection to replace that one vacancy.
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