High court: District judges can live outside their areas

The Nevada Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that, as long as a district judge candidate is a Nevada resident, he or she can live outside their actual judicial district.

The court rejected the attorney general's argument that Nevada law requires a candidate for district judge to actually live within the district where they would serve.

The issue was raised by a Humboldt County citizen after Michael Montero of Reno filed for the district judge's post in the Sixth Judicial District. That district covers Humboldt, Pershing and Lander counties.

The attorney general's office argued Montero should be removed from the ballot because he doesn't live within the district. But Montero argued the law "set forth a state residency requirement as opposed to the district residency requirement."

The district court agreed with Montero, finding no statutory requirement that any candidate for district judge have his physical residence within the district.

The Supreme Court Thursday agreed the office of district judge is a state office requiring only residency in Nevada for a period of at least two years. The court pointed out that district judges in Nevada have statewide jurisdiction and that they can be assigned to conduct business anywhere in the state.

The court also noted that when the Legislature intends for a candidate to live within a specific district, they have "specifically mandated such a requirement by statute."

The opinion cited specific requirements for state senators, assembly members and members of the Board of Regents.

They concluded that, because Montero has lived in Nevada more than two years as required by statute, he "has plainly met" the statutory residency requirement to run for district judge.

Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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