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First black man named to Nevada Supreme Court

Clark County District Judge Michael L. Douglas has been appointed to fill Myron Leavitt’s seat on the Nevada Supreme Court.

He is the first black to be named to Nevada’s high court.

Gov. Kenny Guinn selected him from three finalists forwarded to his office by the Commission on Judicial Selection. Guinn praised the qualifications of the other two finalists – Las Vegas lawyer Gregory E. Smith and Reno’s David Hamilton. But he described Douglas’s credentials as impeccable.

Douglas, 56, has been on the district court bench in Clark County since 1996. He is currently chief judge for the Eighth Judicial District.

“Judge Douglas is a man of great intellect with all of the positive character traits that have always distinguished the great justices of our state,” said Guinn.

Douglas said he was honored by the appointment and “extremely excited for the opportunity to work with the other justices of the Supreme Court of Nevada during a very important juncture in the history of our state.”

Douglas was born and raised in Los Angeles and received his law degree from Hastings College in San Francisco in 1974.

He is a 22 year resident of Las Vegas who worked as an attorney for Nevada Legal Services and as a deputy district attorney before becoming a judge.

He has an extensive list of memberships and honors including service on bar association disciplinary, professionalism and education committees. He is currently president of the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association and vice president of the Nevada District Judges Association.

Douglas, as was Leavitt, has been a longtime youth sports volunteer and coach.

The vacancy was created by the unexpected death of Justice Leavitt, 73, who had diabetes and had undergone a kidney transplant last November and died Jan. 9.

Douglas will serve on the Supreme Court until January. In November, Nevada voters will decide three high court contests, including Douglas’ seat. He has already said he plans to run for a full six-year term on the court.

Contact Geoff Dornan at nevadaappeal@sbcglobal.net or at 687-8750. The Associated Press contributed to this report.