Nevada Court System
There are three different levels of courts and the differentiating characteristic depends on their jurisdiction: lower level (justice courts and municipal courts), mid-level (district courts); and the highest level (Supreme Court). Although various judicial commissions exist, two commissions that are established in Nevada by the Nevada Constitution are: The Commission on Judicial Selection and The Commission on Judicial Discipline. When a vacancy opens, prior to the term expiring, an individual must be appointed by the Governor to fill the vacancy, choosing from three candidates chosen by the Commission.
The Commission on Judicial Discipline deals with complaints against justices or judges. Any matter can be brought to their attention through either a motion or a person. The Commission has a choice of dismissing the matter or ordering a hearing, after a preliminary investigation is conducted The Supreme Court’s jurisdiction is birth from Article 6 of the Nevada Constitution. Nevada, one out of eleven states, does not have an appeals court; instead the Supreme Court, court of last resort, also acts an appellate court. The Supreme Court administrative head is the Chief Justice, who is elected by voters for six terms.
Funding of the Supreme Court includes State General Fund appropriations approved by court administrative assessments and the Legislature. The Office of Court Administrator, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), supports the Supreme Court, aiding in policies and programs. Described in NRS 1. 360, this job involves the examination and improvements of court procedures; collecting and analyzing data; preparing a budget; and reporting any court related issues to the Legislature. The district courts has jurisdiction over all cases not within the jurisdiction of the municipal and justice courts.
There are nine judicial districts in the state. The number of judges in each district are established by the Legislature, as of 2010 there are 82 judges. Judges serve six-year terms. The salary of the district court judges is the responsibility of the State; however each county, where the courts are located, are responsible for the all related cost to the court facilities and staffing. District judges make an annual minimum salary of $160,000 which is outlined in NRS 3. 030. A county with a population exceeding 100,000 has a Family Court established, and it is an extension of the district court.
The jurisdiction of the Family Court are cases involving child support, custody, divorce, parentage, parental rights, adoption, emancipation, protection of children, guardianships, and juvenile. Title 5 of NRS governs juvenile justice, which all jurisdictions in given to the district courts. When practicing this jurisdiction, the court are known as “juvenile courts,” they have exclusive jurisdiction over a child related cases; including runaways, stealing, dishonoring parent or guardian ect (NRS 62B. 310). However, NRS 62B. 30 clarifies that violent sexual assault by children, murder, and firearm offenses are exception crimes, meaning the juvenile court’s do not have jurisdiction. Depending on the crime, if a child is at least 14 years old they are able to be charged for felony criminal proceedings as an adult (NRS 62B. 390). In the particular circumstances the Nevada court system has created specialty courts: drugs, mental health, veterans, and gambling. Drug court was first established in Nevada. In this court the judge allows the defendants who are addicts to enroll into a court appointed drug rehab program.
There are different assignments and therapy session included, not to mention random drug testing. Once the program is completed successfully the defendant’s criminal charges may be dismissed. In 2001 another specialty court was established, the Legislature authorized the treatment of mental offenders. Once a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty of a crime due to mental disorder they are allowed to participate in this program. Instead of convicting the defendant, the court places the party on probation with restrictions and conditions, one being a successful completion of the mental program.
In comparison to the drug program, charges may be thrown out with successful completion (NRS 176A. 250, NRS 176A. 265). In 2009, the Legislature created the Veterans Court, another specialty court, to provide treatment to eligible defendants who are veterans or members of the military. As long as the crime committed by the defendant did not involve the use of force or violence, the court may suspend the criminal proceedings and place the defendant on probation while the defendant undergoes an approved treatment program.
Upon completion of the program, the defendant’s criminal record will be sealed (NRS 176A. 280 through NRS 176A. 295). Although not a specific specialty court, in 2009 the Legislature also authorized courts to establish programs for the treatment of problem gambling. To be eligible, a problem gambler must be convicted of certain crimes that were committed in furtherance or as the result of problem gambling. After successful completion of the treatment program, the defendant may file a petition requesting the court to seal the defendant’s criminal record (NRS 458A. 00 through NRS 458A. 260). Traffic, non-felony, evictions, and civil suits under $10,000 jurisdiction belongs to the justice courts. By Chapter 73 of NRS, justice courts also have the authority to determine if there is enough evidence for grass and felony cases to be sent up to the district courts for trail (NRS 4. 370). By law, a justice court in each township and a justice of the peace per court. Based on the last state report there are currently sixty-three justices of the peace, ten also acting as municipal court judges.
If a city or town is incorporated then a Municipal courts exist. This court has jurisdiction over cases that violate the municipal ordinances. The electors of the city select the judges and their term is based on the provisions made by the city charter or the ordinances, depending what governs the city. Research by AOC done November 2009 found that there more than thirty judges, nine acting as justice of the peace, serving in seventeen municipal courts. References Eirkson, R. (2010, November 8). Nevada State Government.