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DA applying for judgeship

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer

Carson City District Attorney Noel Waters said Monday he will not run for re-election and instead plans to apply for the seat being left vacant by the retirement of District Court Judge Michael Griffin.

“Judge Griffin’s decision creates a different career opportunity for me,” Waters said. “I expect there will be a number of experienced and respected attorneys seeking the judicial appointment, so this was not an easy decision for me.”

Two years will remain to Griffin’s term when he retires in 10 months.

Waters, 57, who has served as district attorney for 21 years, had intended to seek re-election, but hadn’t yet made a formal announcement of his plans when Griffin announced his retirement.

“I can’t ride two horses at once,” Waters said. “I don’t feel it’s fair to ask the voters to support my re-election as DA when I know I would not serve if I’m fortunate enough to be appointed to the district court bench next January.”

Waters said he thought it was important to immediately announce his decision so qualified applicants could consider whether to file and run for district attorney.

Aside from the announcement of Deputy Attorney General Neil Rombardo that he intends to run for the office of district attorney, no others have tossed their hats in the ring.

Waters was appointed as district attorney in April 1985 by the Carson City Board of Supervisors.

His first elective four-year term began in 1987 and he was re-elected four times thereafter between 1991 and 2003.

He is a graduate of Carson High School in 1966, the University of Nevada, Reno in 1978 and the University of the Pacific, McGeorge Law School in 1981.

He began his legal career as a law clerk for Griffin in 1981 before going to work as a deputy district attorney for then-District Attorney William A. Maddox.

The senior district attorney in Nevada, he has been elected president of the Nevada District Attorney’s Association four times and is president-elect for this year.

Since 1998, he has also been a member of the State of Nevada Committee on Domestic Violence.

He also has been a volunteer instructor on criminal law topics to the Highway Patrol and Sierra Peace Officer’s and Standards Training academies for 20 years.

He also donates time as an instructor in search and seizure and constitutional law at the criminal justice department at Western Nevada Community College.

Waters went into law late in life, earning first a journalism degree before receiving his law degree at age 33.

“I’ve loved being district attorney,” he said. “It’s a very challenging and interesting job. Most of all, I’ll miss the camaraderie and dedication of my co-workers.”

— Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.

How a district judge replacement

is selected

• According to Nevada constitutional and statutory provisions, when a district judge vacancy occurs before the expiration of a six-year term of office, the Governor appoints a person to serve from among the top-three nominees selected for the vacancy by the commission on judicial selection.

• The governor’s appointee serves as district judge until the next general election, or until the expiration of the incumbent’s term of office.

• The judicial selection commission consists of the chief justice of the Nevada Supreme Court or an associate justice designated by him, three members of the state bar appointed by the board of bar governors, and three non-attorney representatives appointed by the governor. For district judge vacancies, two temporary appointments to the commission are named: An attorney representative of the judicial district where the vacancy occurs, and a non-lawyer resident of the judicial district where the vacancy occurs.

• The commission is charged with submitting the names of three nominees for each vacancy to the governor, who will appoint the replacement. No time limit exists within which the Governor must make the appointments. However, if the appointments are not made within 30 days following submission of names by the commission, the governor may make no other appointments to public office.