Churchill County could be linked to Mineral County to create a 10th judicial district if the Nevada Legislature approves a plan supported by the Nevada Supreme Court.
A Legislative committee heard testimony on the issue Wednesday but took no action. Forming a 10th district court was added as an amendment to a bill to add judges in Clark and Washoe counties.
Churchill and Lyon counties make up the Third Judicial District. If a new 10th district is formed, Lyon County would be a separate district.
The idea has been studied for two years by Nevada Rural Courts Access to Justice. A report prepared by the group shows the Third Judicial District has the highest population of any multi-jurisdictional district in the state.
The recommended change is based on population and the caseload in each of Nevada's nine judicial districts.
The combined population of Churchill and Lyon counties was 76,000 in 2006 and is predicted to grow to 125,000 by 2026. The three district judges handled 4,012 cases in 2005, which is more than any other multi-jurisdictional district.
With population growth, the number of court cases is expected to increase.
District Attorney Arthur Mallory supports the creation of a 10th court district. He served on the committee studying the concept and testified in favor of the change before the Legislature on Wednesday.
"The Supreme Court and the Administrative Office of the Courts think it's a good idea and I agree," Mallory said. "Lyon County by itself is as large or larger than three other single circuits in the state, and it will grow even more."
If Fallon and Hawthorne become a single district, it will eliminate long commutes for judges in the Fifth District, which is comprised of Nye, Mineral and Esmeralda counties. The population for those three counties is 4,629 and projected to be 4,379 in 2026.
Two judges in the Fifth District cover 25,561 square miles with a maximum driving distance of 270 miles between courthouses.