Hardesty, Parraguirre file for second term on high court
Supreme Court Justices Jim Hardesty and Ron Parraguirre filed Monday for their second six-year terms on the high court.
Hardesty was the first candidate to formally file for office this election cycle, Parraguirre the second. Judicial candidates file from the first Monday in January through Jan. 15 and are not allowed to solicit campaign contributions until and unless an opponent files.
Neither judge said he knows of any opponents planning to challenge them this year.
Both Hardesty, the outgoing chief justice, and Parraguirre, who became chief justice New Year’s Day, said the court will join other state agencies in filing plans to handle potential budget cuts as requested by the governor.
Hardesty said the maximum 10 percent cut in general fund spending would force significant changes in how the court does business, including delays in deciding some cases.
“It would require the court look at different case types and prioritize them,” he said.
Hardesty said there are statutory mandates that require expeditious handling of certain cases such as fast-track criminal cases, medical malpractice and child custody.
Parraguirre said as chief justice he wants to “take a real close look at how staff operates.”
He said an operational review will show where the delays are in processing cases.
“What I’m finding is that a lot of it is extensions of time by the parties,” he said.
He said operating with 10 percent less funding would be very difficult for the court.
Both justices said they support the constitutional change before voters this cycle to permit creation of an intermediate court of appeals. They pointed out that the court has reverted more money to the state in each of the past two years than it would cost to operate the three judge intermediate court.
“It essentially has no fiscal impact,” said Parraguirre.
The ballot question doesn’t mandate an appellate court but instead would permit the Legislature to create it if lawmakers see it as necessary.
The change would significantly reduce the caseload on members of the high court. Hardesty pointed out that while Utah has averaged about 110 cases per judge each year, Arizona 195 and New Mexico 80, Nevada’s Supreme Court is at 310 cases per judge.
The intermediate appellate court, he said, would dispose of cases that shouldn’t go to the Supreme Court itself such as appeals of revoked driver’s licenses. He said that would permit the high court to focus more time and energy on precedent setting major cases.
Hardesty declined to give his personal opinion on the proposal to change Nevada’s elected judiciary to a version of the so-called Missouri Plan where judges are appointed after review by a selection panel but then must stand for a vote of confidence election which requires they receive majority support to hold the seat for another term. He said that is up to the voters.
Parraguirre also said it’s up to the voters, but said he will probably vote for the change.
Hardesty, 61, was a Washoe District Court judge before running for the Supreme Court in 2004. He was student body president at UNR before going to law school.
Parraguirre, 50, is a fourth-generation Nevadan who was appointed to the district court bench in Clark County after three terms as a municipal court judge. After law school, he went to Washington D.C. to work for then-U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt. He, like Hardesty, won a seat on the Supreme court in 2004.