Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Short Stack ? ? ?

No we’re not talking about pancakes.  Instead, we are talking about when and how cases filed in the Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County Nevada make it to trial.  Please allow me to explain.

Most of the counties in Nevada don’t have a problem getting cases to trial.  Normally, in those counties, when a trial is set, that is the date that the trial proceeds.  Clark County, the county in which Las Vegas is located, is the exception to the rule.

Nevada Insurance Law, Stacked Trials in Nevada, Mills & Associates Nevada Insurance and Coverage Lawyers 702-240-6060 The population boom in Clark County brought with it an increase in District Court civil case filings and thus a backlog in getting a civil case before a jury.  One of the perennial contributing causes to the backlog has been a shortage of District Court Judges in Clark County.  In its wisdom, the State has recently added seven new judges.  However, the County didn’t have the foresight to build enough courtrooms.  So the anticipated reduction in the backlog that clients and practitioner had hoped for have yet to be realized.

With the backlog, the Court has had to devise a way to address all those parties who are clamoring for a trial.  The system the Court came up with is the “stacked calendar”.  In setting a stacked calendar, the judges set numerous trials to start on exactly the same day.  It is this list of scheduled trials that everyone affectionately refers to as “the stack”.  Associated with every stack is a block of time, within which any of the cases on the stack could begin trial.  The stacks are sometimes three, four or five weeks long.

Obviously, the Court has to set a priority as to which of all those stacked cases will begin trial first.  For the most part, the Courts sets their trial priorities based upon how old a case is.  The earlier filed cases would get priority over those that were more recently filed.  For example, in a case of ours, we found ourselves on a five week stack.  We were Case No. 21 of 36 cases that were awaiting trial.  Obviously, we had to inform the client that the chance of us rising to the top of that stack within the five week period allotted for 36 of those cases to begin was a very unlikely scenario.  Plus, judges have discretion.  If they have a three day available between trials and the higher priority case is anticipated to take six, the judge will fill in the time with the shorter three day trial.

Generally, a case is not assigned a final place on the stack until the date of Calendar Call.  Most often, Calendar Calls happen about a week before trial.  Clients get frustrated when it appears preliminarily that the client is near the top of the stack, only to learn a Calendar Call that their case has been “bumped off the stack” because of issues of courtroom availability, a criminal case taking a priority position or some other civil case that can claim a priority status (i.e. the age of the plaintiff).  Normally, by the time Calendar Call is convened, trial preparations are well under way, witnesses have been subpoenaed, experts consulted and arguments drafted.  The client’s frustration is great when he learns that his trial will not proceed and and the next available stack won’t begin for months in the future.  As that date approaches, the whole cycle of trial preparation then begins again.

Clearly the system has flaws.  But it’s the system Clark County has chosen to try and address the backlog of unresolved cases.  It is hoped that with the new judges and with new courtrooms under construction that trial delays will be reduced.  In the meantime, when Mills & Associates identifies a date your trial is scheduled to begin in the Eighth Judicial District Court, please realize that your case is on a stack and whether your case will rise to a position of priority sufficient to allow it to begin will only be confirmed when the judge drops the gavel at the start of trial.

If you have questions about stacked trial calendars in Las Vegas, give us a call.

Mills & Associates Nevada Insurance Lawyers 702-240-6060

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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