Judicial selection in Nevada

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Judicial selection in the states
Judicial selection in Nevada
Seal of Nevada.png
Nevada Supreme Court
Method:   Nonpartisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Nevada District Courts
Method:   Nonpartisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Nevada Justice Courts
Method:   Nonpartisan election of judges
Term:   6 years

Selection of state court judges in Nevada occurs through nonpartisan elections. Under the Nevada Constitution, all elected judges serve six-year terms that begin on the first Monday in January following their election.[1][2][3]

Selection of judges

See also: Nonpartisan election of judges

The seven justices of the Nevada Supreme Court and the 72 judges of the Nevada District Courts are elected to six-year terms in nonpartisan elections. To serve additional terms, judges must run for re-election.[1]

For more on these elections, visit the Nevada judicial elections page.

Selection of the chief justice or judge

The supreme court selects its chief justice by seniority, while each district court selects its chief judge by peer vote. The chief serves in that capacity for two years.[1]

Not every district court is required to select a chief judge; only with districts with populations over 100,000 are the courts required to choose one.[1]


To serve on either the Nevada Supreme Court or the Nevada District Courts, a judge must be:

  • a qualified elector;
  • a state resident for two years;
  • a district resident (for district judges);
  • at least 25 years old;
  • licensed and admitted to practice law in Nevada;
  • a licensed attorney for 15 years with at least two years in Nevada.[1]


See also: Assisted appointment

In the event of a midterm vacancy, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Selection solicits and screens applicants to fill the judgeship. It makes recommendations to the governor, who appoints a mid-term replacement to serve until the next general election. If re-elected, the appointee serves out the remainder of the predecessor's unexpired term.[1]

Limited jurisdiction courts

See also: Nonpartisan election of judges

While Nevada's limited jurisdiction courts (the municipal courts and justice courts) all select their judges by nonpartisan election, the qualifications of the courts vary:[4]

Municipal Court Justice Court
Selection: Nonpartisan election Nonpartisan election
Term: 6 years[2] 6 years[3]
Re-election method: Re-election Re-election
Qualifications: Qualified elector; city resident; licensed and admitted to practice law in Nevada; may not have been removed or retired from judicial office Qualified elector; township resident; may not have been removed or retired from judicial office; high school diploma or equivalent; in townships of 100,000 or more, licensed and admitted to practice law in state


Selection methods in Nevada have changed relatively little since the inception of the judiciary. Two notable changes occurred:

  • 1976: A constitutional amendment (previously rejected by voters in 1972) was approved, creating the Nevada Commission on Judicial Selection. The commission was designed to screen candidates to fill interim vacancies on the supreme and district courts. The amendment also established the commission on judicial discipline and increased the tenure of district judges to six years.
  • 1864: Established that supreme court justices are to be elected by popular vote to six-year terms; district court judges are to be elected to four-year terms.[5]

Reform efforts


In 2010, a ballot measure regarding judicial selection was defeated by voters. The Nevada Judicial Appointment Amendment wanted to adopt a new method of selection, akin to the Missouri Plan. The measure was defeated with 57.74 percent of the vote.[6] The amendment would have:

  • created a selection panel to screen and recommend candidates for appointment to judicial vacancies;
  • allowed the governor to appoint a candidate; and
  • made the appointee subject to a retention election after two years in office.

The most vocal advocate for passage of the ballot measure was former Supreme Court of the United States Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Justice O'Connor spoke across the state, appeared in television ads, and even participated in home robo-calls to mobilize voters.[7]

Ultimately, voters supported keeping the current method of judicial selection. The opposition to the measure framed the debate as taking away voting rights and replacing them with an unelected panel.[8]

Selection of federal judges

United States district court judges, who are selected from each state, go through a different selection process than that of state judges.

The district courts are served by Article III federal judges who are appointed for life, during "good behavior." They are usually first recommended by senators (or members of the House, occasionally). The President of the United States of America nominates judges, who must then be confirmed by the United States Senate in accordance with Article III of the United States Constitution.[9]

Step ApprovedA Candidacy Proceeds DefeatedD Candidacy Halts
1. Recommendation made by Congress member to the President President nominates to Senate Judiciary Committee President declines nomination
2. Senate Judiciary Committee interviews candidate Sends candidate to Senate for confirmation Returns candidate to President, who may re-nominate to committee
3. Senate votes on candidate confirmation Candidate becomes federal judge Candidate does not receive judgeship

See also

External links


NevadaNevada Supreme CourtNevada District CourtsNevada Justice CourtsNevada Municipal CourtsClark County Family Court, NevadaUnited States District Court for the District of NevadaUnited States bankruptcy court, District of NevadaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Ninth CircuitNevada countiesNevada judicial newsNevada judicial electionsJudicial selection in NevadaNevadaTemplate.jpg