The Nevada legislature is asking the state Supreme Court to conduct a study to determine whether Nevada needs an intermediate appellate court. This request follows years of political and legal debate in Nevada. Our state is one of eleven states that does not have an intermediate appellate court.
According to Chief Justice Robert Rose, justices have expressed the need for an intermediate appellate court for at least a decade. In 2005, the issue was brought to the legislature but was withdrawn after reports indicated that filings with the court were primarily stagnant. However, during 2005, 2,022 cases were actually filed in with Supreme Court, nearly ten percent more cases than were filed in 2004.
Rose states that the need for an intermediate appeals court would become more apparent once the level of annual case filings exceeded 2,000. According to the Chief Justice, the intermediate appellate court is needed to assure Nevada citizens that every case receives the attention it deserves.
Officials hope the report will be complete by August 2006 and sent to the Nevada lawmakers by September.
Under the proposed plan, the Supreme Court would continue to hear death penalty cases, Nevada civil lawsuits for verdicts exceeding one million dollars, and cases that raise important constitutional questions. The newly created appellate court would step in to handle the majority of appeals in criminal and civil cases.
Ideally, Rose says, six judges would preside over the appeals court, based in Las Vegas, Nevada. The judges would be elected for six-year terms and receive a salary similar to what the Supreme Court justices are currently paid. The legislature will have the final say as to the arrangement of the new appellate court.