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Residents may offer opinions of Third District judge applicants

MARLENE GARCIA
Nevada Appeal News Service

The Nevada Commission on Judicial Selection will interview the six candidates vying for the Third District judge seat on March 28 in Yerington. The seat was vacated by Judge Archie Blake, who retired in February.

Residents can send letters of support or opposition to the commission until the morning of the interviews, said Janice Frayo, court services analyst for the Administrative Office of the Courts.

The panel will decide immediately after quizzing the applicants the top three choices. Their names will be sent to Gov. Kenny Guinn who will make the final decision on who will fill the judgeship.

Wayne Pederson, an attorney in private practice in Yerington, will be the first applicant questioned beginning at 10 a.m. Frayo said the commission set aside about a half hour for each candidate.

Next in line to be interviewed are Lyon County District Attorney Leon Aberasturi, Dayton Justice of the Peace William Rogers, Churchill County District Attorney Arthur Mallory, John P. Schlegelmilch, an attorney in private practice in Yerington, and Kevin Pasquale, a former Churchill County D.A. who is now in private practice with a Reno law firm.

Frayo said commission members received copies of applications from each candidate, along with lengthy questionnaires. They have also received instructions on the selection process, which includes sample questions that could be asked during the interviews.

Seven people sit on the selection commission, including the Chief Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court, three non-lawyers selected by the governor and three attorneys licensed to practice law in Nevada.

When a district court seat is available, an additional two members are appointed to assist in the selection process. One is a non-lawyer appointed by the governor, and the other is an attorney appointed by the Nevada Bar Association.

Once the commission decides on the top three applicants, Guinn has 30 days to make an appointment.

Bill Gang, Nevada courts spokesman, said Guinn reviews finalists for judge positions carefully before selecting one.

“This governor has taken his time and been very thorough in recent appointments,” Gang said. “He’s also aware that we’re coming up to a situation that the judge will have to run for election in November, and we’re coming up to the filing period quite quickly.”

The appointee will have to be elected in November to retain the seat.

The timeline for the new judge to take office is not set in state law. Gang said the person who is appointed by Guinn will determine how much time he needs to wrap up affairs in his current job.

“A private attorney could need a month to wind up cases,” Gang said. “Someone in public service often takes less time because their functions can be handed off to someone else.”

Blake retired Feb. 11 after 18 years on the district court bench. He continues to preside over drug courts in the Third Judicial District, which covers Churchill and Lyon counties.

Anyone who wants to send a letter about any of the six candidates can mail them to Ron Titus, 201 S. Carson St., Suite 250, Carson City, NV 89701-4702. Letters can also be sent via fax to (775) 486-3232.

— Contact reporter Marlene Garcia at mgarcia@lahontanvalleynews.com.