Griffin settling into new freedom of not being a judge |

Griffin settling into new freedom of not being a judge

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Former District Court judge Mike Griffin, who has a collection of 10 guitars, plays in a band that performs three times a year. He has hung up his robe to join a Reno law firm.

There have been some major changes in Mike Griffin’s life since the new year.

For the first time since 1979, he isn’t a judge – although, frankly, everyone still calls him that.

And, for the first time in his life (not counting law school and the military) he doesn’t live in Carson City.

When Griffin, 63, announced his retirement after 28 years on the bench, he said one of the burdens of that job is “you’ve got to watch what you say – everywhere.”

“It’s just common sense that a judge can’t talk about what you think because it will come back on you,” he said.

Now, with that burden lifted, he said “It feels kind of nice, kind of relaxed. Not so restrictive on my personal life.”

Now, he said, “I’m entitled to an opinion.”

But when asked for his opinion, Griffin, a political junkie who always has a few questions about goings on in the state, dodged. Old habits die hard.

Griffin and his wife, Jill, moved from their Carson City home to a new home in south Reno, primarily to be closer to their grandchildren.

“The move has been good for me and Jill,” he said.

But, he said, it’s not like he is so far away from the capital they never get there anymore.

“I’m just 18 minutes north of Carson,” he said. “It takes me longer to get from here to (Reno’s) Costco than to Carson City.”

He’s also a lot closer to his new office at the law firm of Kummer Kaempher Bonner Renshaw and Ferrario – the same firm which employs Sen. Mark Amodei and Griffin’s son John. The firm’s partners say they hired him because of his extensive experience on the bench and put him in charge of developing the firm’s statewide mediation and arbitration practice.

Griffin said the assignment is just what he needs: “I don’t want to do contentious litigation. I’ve done that my whole career – high profile cases.

“I loved being a judge but it grinds on you,” he said. “After a while, you get tired of seeing what people do to each other.

“I knew it was time to retire when I was seeing the grandchildren of people I dealt with as a judge.”

But, he said, he couldn’t retire completely: “I’d go nuts.”

After his new career and enjoying his grandchildren, he said he’s still trying to get in better shape, which means residents near his new home may see him riding his bicycle.

“I’m in the process of losing 20 pounds. I’ve been doing that for 30 years.”

And of course, there’s the music. Griffin, who now has more than a dozen premium guitars in his collection, still plays with a band, which also includes his brother John, son John and friends Pat Casey and Fred Richards. He said they still play three or four times a year at events such as last year’s retirement of fellow District Judge and guitarist Peter Breen of Reno.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.