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President's Message: Ballot Question 1

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NEVADA LAWYER
EDITORIAL BOARD Lisa Wong Lackland, Chair Michael T. Saunders Mark A. Hinueber, Chair-Elect Gregory R. Shannon Patricia D. Cafferata, Vice Chair Stephen F. Smith Scott G. Wasserman, Beau Sterling Immediate Past Chair Heidi Parry Stern Erin Barnett Kristen Simmons Hon. Robert J. Johnston Richard D. Williamson Scott McKenna John Zimmerman BOARD OF GOVERNORS President: Cam Ferenbach, Las Vegas President-Elect: Constance Akridge, Las Vegas Vice President: Frank Flaherty, Carson City Immediate Past President: Kathleen England, Las Vegas James Bradshaw, Reno Elizabeth Brickfield, Las Vegas Amber L. Candelaria, Las Vegas Laurence Digesti, Reno Elana Turner Graham, Las Vegas Bruce Hahn, Reno Jenny Hubach, Reno Alan Lefebvre, Las Vegas Vincent Ochoa, Las Vegas Richard Scotti, Las Vegas Mason Simons, Elko Ex-Officio Dean John Valery White, UNLV Boyd School of Law
Message from the President
Cam Ferenbach, State Bar of Nevada President
BALLOT QUESTION 1
“If Vince were alive today, he would be thrilled to learn that, during our August 18th meeting in Elko, the Board of Governors voted to support approval of Question 1, which gives voters the opportunity to approve the constitutional amendment proposed by SJR 2.”
All of us who knew Vince Consul mourned his sudden passing earlier this year. Vince was the third state bar president I worked with as a member of the Board of Governors. He was a fine lawyer and an exemplary human being, living a productive balance of work, family and community service. Vince’s first president’s message, published in July, 2005, was entitled, “THINKING BOLDLY.” Here’s how it began: I dislike judicial elections. Based upon my conversations with members of the state bar over the years, so do a lot of you. However, the general consensus seems to be that the Nevada procedure for the election of judges simply can’t be changed. The Las Vegas Review-Journal has been a strident supporter of the election of judges for as long as I have been in town. The Nevada Legislature has never seriously addressed the issue of change to the current procedure. The electronic media appear to be biased in favor of elections due to the substantial advertising income generated during our election cycle which, with primaries and oddyear municipal elections, appears to be almost continual, so lawyers shrug their shoulders and say it can’t be changed. During the two legislative sessions after Vince wrote these words, much hard work by a number of legislators and community leaders led by state bar members Bill Raggio and Barbara Buckley, resulted in the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 2 - a proposed constitutional amendment establishing merit selection of judges in Nevada. If Vince were alive today, he would be thrilled to learn that, during our August 18th meeting in Elko, the Board of Governors voted to support approval of Question 1, which gives voters the opportunity to approve the constitutional amendment proposed by SJR 2. Question 1 asks: Shall the Nevada Constitution be amended to provide for the appointment of Supreme Court justices and District Court judges by the Governor for their initial term from lists of candidates nominated by the Commission on Judicial Selection, with subsequent retention of those justices and judges after independent performance evaluations and
STATE BAR STAFF Executive Director: Kimberly K. Farmer Bar Counsel: Rob Bare Deputy Bar Counsel/ General Counsel: David Clark Director of Finance & Information Systems: Marc Mersol Director of Continuing Legal Education: Emily Ihrke NEVADA LAWYER STAFF Publications Manager: Jennifer Smith (jennifers@nvbar.org) Nevada Lawyer Coordinator: Melinda Catren (melindac@nvbar.org) GRAPHIC DESIGN Georgina Corbalan
ADVERTISING INDEX
ARMSTRONG TEASDALE...................20 BANK OF GEORGE .............................13 BANK OF NEVADA ...............................9 CASEMAKERS ...................................16 COGBURN LAW OFFICE ....................17 CRESCENT REAL ESTATE..................29 DANIELS-HEAD INSURANCE ............31 FASTCASE........................................IBC GAMING LAW SECTION .......................18 HUTCHISON & STEFFEN ...................14 JAMS ................................................23 JEFFREY BURR..................................35 LAWYERS CONCERNED FOR LAWYERS ..............................24 LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL BUREAU ..... BC MANN LAW FIRM ..............................33 MARSH .............................................13 NATIONAL FORENSIC LOAN AUDIT ...12 SATURNA TRUST COMPANY.............25 TOMPKINS & PETERS .......................19 THOMSON REUTERS........................IFC TOP OF THE WORLD RESTAURANT...37 VERTI CONSULTING ...........................11
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Nevada Lawyer
October 2010
voter approval? After a period of thoughtful discussion comparing the details of the proposed Merit Selection Plan with our current system, as well as arguments for and against Question 1, a majority of the State Bar of Nevada Board of Governors voted in favor of supporting this question. Consistent with this vote, as state bar president, I am publically urging the approval of this ballot question. As lawyers, our duties to our clients sometimes require us to take positions we don’t personally agree with, as long as they are supported by the law and the facts. With regard to Question 1, my advocacy on behalf of the state bar is consistent with my own personal opinion. I urge every reader of this column to review SJR 2 passed most recently by the 2009 legislature. Here’s the link: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/75th2009/ Bills/SJR/SJR2_74_EN.pdf . If Question 1 passes, SJR 2 will become part of our constitution. When you understand the details of this joint resolution, you will see that the resolution’s drafters crafted a workable and efficient balance between (1) giving voters meaningful control over who serves as judges in District Court and justices of the Supreme Court; and (2) ensuring that only qualified judicial candidates are initially presented to the governor for appointment, with the successful candidate standing for a retention election based on actual performance on the bench, at most two years after his or her appointment. A separate Judicial Performance Commission will examine objective data gathered from attorneys, staff, jurors, litigants and others with actual experience in the judge’s courtroom. The commission will then publish the data and its recommendation regarding each judge. That report must be published at least six weeks before the general election. Arizona has had judicial merit selection in place for many years. All Arizona attorneys I have talked to enthusiastically support this method of appointing and retaining judges. Retention elections focus on the incumbent’s performance and employ minimal advertising budgets. The voters make informed decisions and the taint of fundraising by sitting judges is minimized. I also urge you to read Vince’s column. Here’s the link: http://www.nvbar.org/Publications/ NevadaLawyer/2005/July/Nevada_Lawyer-VinceConsul-President_Message-July2005.pdf. Times have changed. The legislature has acted. Many community leaders, business leaders and even media leaders have recognized that Question 1 deserves support. Organized support is emerging throughout a broad spectrum of our community. For more information you can go to: http://www.morequalifiedjudges.com/. The thoughts Vince expressed in this column five years ago ring true today. If lawyers who support merit selection of judges get engaged, there is a good chance that this much needed change will become a reality. For more on both sides of Ballot Question 1, see page 28.

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