Nevada Creation of a State Intermediate Appellate Court, Question 1 (2014)

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Question 1
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Nevada Constitution
Referred by:Nevada State Legislature
Topic:State judiciary
Status:Approved Approveda
2014 measures
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November 4
Question 1 Approveda
Question 2 Defeatedd
Question 3 Defeatedd
Polls
The Nevada Creation of a State Intermediate Appellate Court, Question 1 was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in the state of Nevada as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure, which was referred to as SJR 14 in the legislature, asked voters whether to amend the Nevada Constitution in order to create an Intermediate Appellate Court, also known as a court of appeals.[1]

As a result of the measure's approval, all appeals will still be filed with the Nevada Supreme Court, which will then be allowed to assign certain cases to the intermediate court. The intermediate court will operate in already existing space in the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, in an attempt to decrease costs.[2]

Election results

Below are the official, certified election results:

Nevada Question 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 287,183 53.78%
No246,83646.22%

Election results via: Nevada Secretary of State

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot question appeared as follows:[3]

Shall the Nevada Constitution be amended to create a Court of Appeals that would decide appeals of District Court decisions in certain civil and criminal cases?

[4]

Ballot summary

The ballot summary was as follows:[3]

EXPLANATION—This ballot measure proposes to amend the Nevada Constitution to create a Court of Appeals consisting of three judges. The Nevada Supreme Court would establish the types of District Courtdecisions to be heard by the Court of Appeals and also determine when a Court of Appeals decision may be reviewed by the Nevada Supreme Court.

A “Yes” vote would create a Court of Appeals within the existing court system.

A “No” vote would retain the existing court system.

DIGEST—Article 6 of the Nevada Constitution establishes the court system of the State of Nevada, which currently consists of the Nevada Supreme Court, District Courts, Justices of the Peace, and Municipal Courts. The Nevada Supreme Court is the only appellate court in Nevada that hears and decides all appeals from final judgments entered by Nevada’s District Courts. This ballot measure would create a Court of Appeals to decide some of the appeals currently decided by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court would establish the types of District Court decisions to be heard by the Court of Appeals and also determine when a Court of Appeals decision may be reviewed by the Supreme Court. This ballot measure would create, generate, or increase public revenue because existing law would require candidates for judgeships on the Court of Appeals to pay fees to run for judicial office. It also would create, generate, or increase public revenue because, if a party appeals a decision of the Court of Appeals to the Nevada Supreme Court, the Nevada Constitution would require the party to pay a fee for filing the appeal.

The Court of Appeals would consist of three judges, but this ballot measure would authorize theLegislature to increase the number of judges. The Governor would appoint the initial three judges from nominees provided by the Commission on Judicial Selection. The initial threejudges would be appointed to two-year terms. Thereafter, Court of Appeals judges would be elected to six-year terms at the general election. Additionally, the Supreme Court would assign, as needed, one or more Court of Appeals judges to serve part-time as supplemental District Court judges.

If this ballot measure is approved by the voters, Senate Bill No. 463 of the 2013 Legislative Session would carry out the constitutional provisions creating the Court of Appeals. [4]

Constitutional changegs

On approval, Question 1 amended Article 6 of the Nevada Constitution. The full text of the constitutional changes that it implemented can be read here.[3]

Fiscal note

The fiscal note was as follows:[3]

Financial Impact—Yes

The Administrative Office of the Courts has indicated that this ballot measure creating a Court of Appeals would require operating expenses of approximately $800,000 in FY 2015, relating to judicial selection, salaries, and other expenses for the administration of a Court of Appeals. However, the Legislature, in Assembly Bill No. 474 of the 2013 Legislative Session, approvedfunding to the Interim Finance Contingency Account for the initial implementation of a Court of Appeals in FY 2015, contingent upon the passage of this ballot measure. Therefore, no additional funding beyond that which has already been approved would be necessary for the operation of a Court of Appeals in FY 2015.

The Administrative Office of the Courts has indicated that ongoing costs for administration of a Court of Appeals, if approved by the voters, would be approximately $1.5 million per year. It is not known at this time, however, whether the Legislature and the Governor would choose to provide this funding from the State General Fund or from other sources.

Representatives of the Nevada Supreme Court have indicated that a Court of Appeals initially would be housed in existing court facilities in northern and southern Nevada, which would avoid the need for capital expenditures to establish a Court of Appeals. Thus, no immediate financial impact upon State government for capital costs is anticipated.

After the initial two-year terms of the three judges appointed to a Court of Appeals, candidates for future judgeships will be required by existing law to pay filing fees to the Office of the Secretary of State in order to seek judicial office. This will result in an increase in revenue to the State General Fund beginning in FY 2016, but the amount of the increase cannot be determined with any reasonable degree of certainty because the number of candidates cannot be predicted. [4]

Background

Prior to Question 1's approval, Nevada's court system consisted of Justices of the Peace, District Courts and the state supreme court. All appeals from lower courts went directly to the supreme court. Nevada voters rejected a state intermediate appellate court in 2010 when Question 2 was defeated by a 53 percent majority.[5]

Support

Supporters

  • Vote Yes Question 1: Justice Delayed is Justice Denied[6]

Arguments in favor

Arguments in favor of Question 1 included:

  • Supporters of this measure proposed that an intermediate court would allow for expedited decisions on appealed issues, increase the efficiency of the Nevada legal system and free up the Nevada Supreme Court to investigate important cases more carefully.[2]
  • Nevada is one of only 10 states that do not have an appellate court, making the state's supreme court one of the busiest and most congested in the country.[7]
  • According to the American Bar Association, state supreme court justices should have no more than 100 annual cases. However, Nevada's case load averaged 333 per justice in 2013.[7]
  • The supporting group Vote Yes Question 1 released a list of "Top Reasons to Vote Yes on Question 1." Below is a sampling of the reasons:[6]
  • A new Court of Appeals would be housed in existing courtrooms and offices in northern and southern Nevada. No additional courthouse construction is needed to establish a Court of Appeals. The resulting fiscal impact is minimal to the state’s General Fund.
  • Given how busy the Nevada Supreme Court is -- handling 2,500 cases per year which is the highest per justice filings in the nation -- justice is too often delayed. The innocent must wait to be cleared, child custody decisions are painfully slow to produce, criminal cases are stacked-up, business litigation remains unresolved, and the result is that Nevadans are being denied justice.
  • 56 percent of all appeals require more than six months to be heard with 29 percent taking more than one year.
  • The establishment of a Court of Appeals would help attract more businesses to Nevada as the new court would provide for speedier resolution of general business disputes and provide much needed legal clarity to the Nevada business community. More certainty for businesses means more jobs for Nevadans.
  • In 2013, legislation placing the question of creating a Court of Appeals before Nevada voters this November was unanimously approved by the state Senate and the state Assembly, regardless of political party affiliation.[4]

Vote Yes Question 1

SJR 14 2011 "Yes" votes

The following members of the Nevada State Assembly voted in favor of placing this measure on the ballot in 2011.[8][9]

Note: A yes vote on SJR 14 merely referred the question to voters and did not necessarily mean these legislators approved of the stipulations laid out in Question 1.

Assembly

Senate

SJR 14 2013 "Yes" votes

The following members of the Nevada State Assembly voted in favor of placing this measure on the ballot in 2013.[10][11]

Note: A yes vote on SJR 14 merely referred the question to voters and did not necessarily mean these legislators approved of the stipulations laid out in Question 1.

Assembly

Senate

Opposition

Arguments

Arguments in opposition to Question 1 included:

  • Opponents contend adding a new appellate court would add more costs to the court system, estimating that a new appellate court would cost approximately $1.5 million annually.[7]
  • Similar ballot measure questions went before voters four times in the past 40 years, with the most recent attempt occurring in 2010. Each time, this question was rejected by the voters.[7]

SJR 14 2011 "No" votes

The following members of the Nevada State Assembly voted against placing this measure on the ballot in 2011.[8]

Note: A no vote on SJR 14 meant that a legislator did not want to refer the question to voters and did not necessarily mean these legislators disapproved of the stipulations laid out in Question 1.

Assembly

Senate

SJR 14 2013 "No" votes

No members of the state assembly voted against placing this measure on the ballot in 2013.[10][11]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Nevada ballot measures, 2014

Support

  • The Reno Gazette-Journal said,
Nevada has the hardest working justices in the country, but that enormous workload has consequences. The court cleared 2,373 cases last year but still had nearly 1,900 cases pending. That means delays, and delays are the mortal enemies of justice. Delays affect those caught up in the criminal justice system; they also affect businesses, which dislike the uncertainty that delays cause for their operations.

A state with a population of 2.8 million, and rising, simply cannot afford to operate without an appeals court anymore.

Vote yes on Question 1 .[4]

Reno Gazette-Journal, [12]

  • The Las Vegas Review Journal said,
As voters will see firsthand on next month’s ballot, Nevada has added literally dozens of new District Court departments over the past 20-plus years and no doubt will need to add more in the years ahead as our population grows. More courts means more pressure on the Supreme Court. Imagine the Supreme Court as a trough, with several hoses — representing each District Court department — filling it. Then imagine doubling the number of hoses without enlarging the trough.

This worsening overflow creates delays in adjudication that cost Nevada litigants far too much. The Supreme Court will never erase its case backlog without help. An appellate court is long overdue.

The Review-Journal endorses a yes vote on Question 1. [4]

Las Vegas Review Journal, [13]

  • The Las Vegas Sun said,
As it is, the cost of trying a case in court in Nevada is high because it takes such a long time to get a final decision. Justice delayed is not only justice denied, but also it’s an expensive brand of justice. The fact remains that Nevada is just one of a handful of states without an intermediate appellate court. It might have worked 150 years ago, when the state was founded, but it doesn’t work today.

Nevada needs a new appeals court. Voters should approve it. The Sun endorses a yes vote on Question 1. [4]

Las Vegas Sun, [14]

Opposition

  • The Moapa Valley Progress said,
There are better ways to approach the prblem [sic] of an over-extended Supreme Court. Our society has become entirely too litigious, with too many attorneys bringing too many frivilous [sic] lawsuits; swamping legal resources and grinding down the wheels of justice. That is really at the core of the problem here. Providing an ever increasing stream of new courts and justices will not fix this ever growing appetite for litigation. Throwing more money at the problem won’t fix it.

What is needed in the state is meaningful tort reform to discourage frivolous lawsuits and hold attorneys accountable and financially liable. Perhaps that is what the voters of Nevada have been trying to say to the legislature for the past 40 years in repeatedly deciding NO on this amendment. Meaningful tort reform is admittedly the harder path for the legislature. But it would bring the best outcome for the taxpayers of the state; much better than a vastly more expensive appellate court. We would recommend that Nevada’s voters hang tough on this issue yet again and vote NO on Question 1.[4]

Moapa Valley Progress, [15]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Nevada Constitution

According to Article 16, Section 1 of the Nevada Constitution, an amendment proposed by the legislature must be approved by a majority in both the House and Senate in two consecutive legislative sessions. If twice approved by the legislature, the amendment then goes to the ballot where voters decide whether or not to ultimately pass it.

On May 24, 2014, SJR 14 completed this process, putting this intermediate appellate court question on the ballot.[16][17][18]

Senate vote

April 14, 2011 Senate vote

Nevada SJR 14 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 16 76.19%
No523.81%

Senate vote

May 20, 2013 Senate vote

Nevada SJR 14* Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 21 100%
No00%

Assembly vote

May 13, 2011 Assembly vote

Nevada SJR 14 Assembly Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 32 80.00%
No820.00%

Assembly vote

May 28, 2013 Assembly vote

Nevada SJR 14* Assembly Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 40 100.00%
No00%

Similar measures

See also

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Suggest a link

External links

References

  1. Nevada Legislature, "SJR 14," accessed October 30, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kring and Chung, "Will 2014 Finally Be the Year that Nevada Gets a Court of Appeal?" accessed March 18, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Nevada Secretary of State, "Question No. 1," accessed September 18, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. Watchdog Wire, "NEVADA BALLOT QUESTION 1: DO WE NEED A COURT OF APPEALS?" September 29, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Chamber, "Top Reasons to Vote Yes on Question 1," accessed October 27, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Moapa Valley Progress, "EDITORIAL: A Brief Guide To NV Ballot Questions," October 22, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 OpenStates.org, "Assembly Vote on SJR 14 (May 13, 2011)," accessed October 27, 2014
  9. OpenStates.org, "Senate Vote on SJR 14 (Apr 14, 2011)," accessed October 27, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 OpenStates.org, "Assembly Vote on SJR 14 (May 20, 2013)," accessed October 27, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 OpenStates.org, "Senate Vote on SJR 14 (Apr 15, 2013)," accessed October 27, 2014
  12. Reno Gazette-Journal, "Editorial: Question 3 isn't answer to Nevada's tax woes," October 23, 2014
  13. Las Vegas Review Journal, "EDITORIAL: Vote yes on Question 1," October 15, 2014
  14. Las Vegas Sun, "Endorsements for state questions," October 21, 2014
  15. Moapa Valley Progress, "EDITORIAL: A Brief Guide to NV Ballot Questions," October 22, 2014
  16. LegiScan, "Nevada Senate Joint Resolution 14," accessed March 18, 2014
  17. Open States, "SJR 14: Nevada 2011 Regular Session," accessed May 13, 2014
  18. Nevada Legislature, "SJR14* of the 76th (2011) Session," accessed May 13, 2014