Friday the 13th selected to clear up election issues

The Nevada Supreme Court announced Wednesday that it will hear a stack of term limit and tax initiative challenges on Friday the 13th.

The high court plans to hear all the issues affecting the Nevada ballot at 1:30 p.m. on June 13.

The hearing, which Chief Justice Mark Gibbons described as something of a "triage session," will be held in Las Vegas in the Supreme Court's courtroom on the 17th floor of the Regional Justice Center.

The Supreme Court has had several recent filings involving election matters and anticipates there may be more. New cases will be stacked on the calendar as they are filed.

Chief Justice Gibbons said that during the afternoon session, "the Court will determine how best to address the cases so they can be resolved as quickly as possible. We likely will be issuing briefing schedules and setting oral arguments. We hope we can resolve the issues and still keep the election process on track if our expedited schedule is followed."

"The Court must be responsive to the public's needs, but must also provide opportunities for all parties to file necessary briefs and for our court staff to conduct the necessary research," he said.

The underlying issues that led to the filing of the cases will not be argued except to help the court determine how to proceed.

"This kind of mass case management hearing is unprecedented at the Supreme Court level. It has never been done here before," Chief Justice Gibbons said.

"Some cases will have common issues, but others are unique," Chief Justice Gibbons noted. "The Supreme Court is being asked to compress its procedures into very short time frames to accommodate the election cycle and the needs of counties to have absentee ballots printed and mailed in a timely fashion."

"At this point, we don't know which cases must be decided before the Primary Election and which do not need to be addressed until the General Election," he said. "We do not know if the Court can appropriately address all matters in the brief time available, but I can guarantee the Justices will work as hard as they can to meet the needs of the litigants and the public."

"It is vital, however, that the litigants are afforded due process and that the Court's decisions ultimately are correct," Chief Justice Gibbons said. "While we will give these cases priority, we will not take shortcuts and issue opinions that are not well reasoned and supported by the law and the Constitution."

The case management session will follow three oral arguments before the full court the morning of June 13. Two deal with terms of office for elected officials and the third will address whether candidates for District Court judgeships must reside in the judicial district where they are seeking the bench.

The most prominent case was filed by Eighth Judicial District Judge Elizabeth Halverson, who is seeking re-election. The seat she originally won in 2006 was for a two year term although District Court seats generally are for six-year terms. Judge Halverson is challenging the Legislature's right to create judgeships with shorter terms, which was done to place all judges on the same election and pay raise cycle. Judge Halverson's case is scheduled to be argued at 10:30 a.m. on June 13.

At 10 a.m., the case of the Independent American party of Clark County vs. Secretary of State Ross Miller will be argued. It also addresses a term of office issue.

The third case, scheduled to be argued at 11 a.m., involves a challenge to the candidacy of Michael Montero for a seat on the Sixth Judicial District Court bench. That district includes Pershing, Humboldt, and Lander Counties. Mr. Montero is not a resident of that district, but Second Judicial District Judge Patrick Flanagan already has ruled that since district judges have statewide jurisdiction, candidates need not be residents of their district to file for office.


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