Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

The Nevada Court System

The organization of the Nevada Court System is unique.  Compared to the federal system or to other state systems, the Nevada system has some facets that are important to be explored and understood.

The highest court in the Nevada Court System is the Nevada Supreme Court.  It is the court of last resort.  The Nevada Supreme Court is made up of seven justices.  The court is divided into two three-justice panels plus the chief justice.  All appeals and extraordinary writs from the Nevada District Court that are filed in the Nevada Court System are filed with the Nevada Supreme Court.

Justice Right now, Nevada has no intermediate court of appeals.  However, the issue of whether an intermediate court of appeals should be added to the Court System is going before the voters this November.  The issue has faced the voters in the past but has been rejected.  It is not clear whether the outcome will be any different in these economically trying times.  The addition of an intermediate court of appeals would be advantageous to the business community in that it would provide new and additional decisions that other courts could rely on in making determinations about legal issues.  When and if that change occurs, this blog will keep you updated.

The court of general jurisdiction is the Nevada District Court.  The Nevada District Court system is broken up into ten judicial districts that are geographically spread across the state.  Some Districts comprise only one county.  Other Districts in the more rural parts of the state cover multiple counties with one or two judges that ride the circuit to the various county courthouses…

The largest and most active districts are the Second (nine civil department and six family departments in Reno) and the Eighth (32 civil departments and 20 family court departments in Las Vegas).  The District Court handles cases of a value of $10,000.00 or more.  All judges in the District Court and all of Nevada’s Judges face popular election.  Due to the increase in population, we are anticipating the addition of new Departments in the District Court.  In Las Vegas the number of new departments to be added in November 2010 will raise total judges to 32 from the 25 that are currently there.

The Second and Eighth Judicial District both have mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution for cases of a value of $50,000.00 or less.  The most common ADR option is non binding arbitration.  The arbitrations that are handled through the mandatory court-annexed arbitration program can be set aside by requesting a trial de novo.  Sanctions would apply if you request a trial de novo but fail to improve your position at trial by more than 20 percent.

Most post-arbitration cases that become trials de novo are sent to the Short Trial program.  The short trial program can also handle cases where the parties stipulate to a trial in lieu of arbitration.  The short trials usually come to trial within six months as compared to two or three years in the District Court.  Most short trials are heard before a four-person jury and are concluded in one day.

The Nevada Court System also includes Justice Courts.  The Justice Court has a civil jurisdiction from $0 to $10,000.00.  You can, if you choose, request a jury trial in the Justice Court of up to six jurors.  Attorney’s fees are awarded as costs in the Justice Court.  This is different from the normal American Rule which says that each party bears his own costs.  This is unique to Nevada’s Justice Court system.  If you receive a verdict in the Justice Court and an appeal is necessary, that appeal would be made to the District Court.

There is also a small claims division of the Justice Court.  The small claims division handles cases of a value of $7,500.00 and under.  While attorneys can appear in small claims, there can be no award of attorney’s fees there.  Usually those small claims cases are heard by a referee.  The referee will make a decision in a matter of minutes or a matter of days and will file Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.  Those decisions would then be if they were objected to would be heard by an elected Justice of the Peace in the Justice Court.

Since the Nevada Court System is complex and unique, please feel free to contact attorney Mike Mills by phone (702-240-6060) or email if you need additional information or assistance.

About Michael Mills

Mr. Mills practices in the area of civil litigation and appeals, with particular experience in matters involving trucking liability, insurance defense, insurance coverage, premises liability, products liability and defense of personal injury. Mr. Mills is a member of the Trucking Insurance Defense Association, the Defense Research Institute Trucking Committee and the Nevada Motor Transport Association. Mr. Mills is licensed to practice before the Nevada Supreme Court and the Utah Supreme Court. He is also licensed to appear before the United States Supreme Court, the U.S. District Courts for the Districts of Nevada and Utah, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Mills has created 3 Blogs for the benefit of the insurance industry. He serves as editor and publisher of the Nevada Insurance Law Blog, the Nevada Coverage and Bad Faith Blog and the Nevada Trucking Law Blog.

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