According to the Nevada State Bar, the Court of Appeals would consist of three judges, The Ballot Question Explanation provides that the Governor would appoint the initial three judges from nominees provided by the Commission on Judicial Selection. The initial three judges would be appointed to two-year terms. Thereafter, Court of Appeals judges would be elected to six-year terms at the general election. Additionally, the Supreme Court would assign, as needed, one or more Court of Appeals judges to serve part-time as supplemental District Court judges.
The Explanation says that if this ballot measure is approved by the voters, Senate Bill No. 463 of the 2013 Legislative Session would carry out the constitutional provisions creating the Court of Appeals.
According to the Explanation, the Nevada Supreme Court has been overburdened for decades as it struggles to provide the public with speedy access to justice in the face of an ever-growing population. The increasing backlog of appeals is delaying justice in Nevada. Nevada is one of only ten states that do not have a Court of Appeals. Our Supreme Court is one of the busiest in the nation because it must hear and decide all appeals from final judgments entered by Nevada’s 82 District Court judges.
The Explanation goes on to state that although our Supreme Court has tried to manage and reduce its caseload through technological and procedural measures, more needs to be done to make our justice system work better for our citizens and businesses.
The American Bar Association (ABA) recommends that when the volume of appeals becomes so great that a state supreme court cannot decide cases in a timely fashion, a court of appeals should be created. Nevada has reached that point. The ABA’s recommended annual caseload for an appellate judge is 100 cases. Statistics show that the Nevada Supreme Court’s caseload for each justice was 333 cases in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, more than three times the recommended caseload.
As a result of this heavy caseload, the Explanation says that the Supreme Court must resolve most appeals through unpublished orders that bind only the parties in a single case, instead of published opinions that establish statewide precedent for all future cases. In recent years, because of the extensive time and effort involved in researching and writing published opinions, the Supreme Court has issued published opinions in only 3 to 4 percent of all cases. The lack of published opinions can lead to the same issues being litigated repeatedly. A Court of Appeals would decide the more routine cases, which would allow the Supreme Court to focus on precedent-setting published opinions.
The Nevada Law Blogs agree with the Explanation that a Court of Appeals would provide more timely access to justice for Nevadans and a more stable business climate for existing and new businesses. It would promote a quicker resolution of all cases, including such personal and time-sensitive matters as family law, foreclosure mediation, and business disputes. A “yes” vote will enable Nevada’s court system to meet the demands of the twenty-first century and provide our citizens and businesses with an improved level of appellate review already available in 40 other states.
The Nevada Law Blogs encourage you to vote YES on Question One this November.