Structure of Nevada’s Judicial System
Article 6 of the Nevada Constitution lays down the structure of the state judicial system. The judiciary includes tribunals that work at the state level as well as federal courts. Of the latter, there are two courts; the Federal Court and the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada. Functioning in the apex position of all state-level judicial entities is the Supreme Court of Nevada. The remainder of the judicial hierarchy is divided into trial courts of general and limited jurisdictions.
Functions of the Supreme Court of Nevada
The Supreme Court: In the absence of an intermediate appellate court, all reviews from trial courts are taken to the Supreme Court of Nevada. Annually, the apex tribunal receives nearly 2000 appeals; most of these are made from the district courts. It is the responsibility of the Supreme Court to decide if any legal errors were committed while handling cases by the lower courts and if the verdicts and sentencing were fair.
The Supreme Court’s Administrative Responsibilities and Composition
Furthermore, the Supreme Court is the administrative head of the judicial network of the state. As such, it is deeply involved in explaining the interpretation of state and federal laws and any disputes arising thereof. To impart this specific function, commissions, and committees can be appointed by the Supreme Court. The court of last resort, as it is popularly known, is served by 7 justices including a Chief Judge. These judges sit in panels of 3 to hear various appeals or together, en banc, to decide on important matters.
Structure and Functioning of District Courts in Nevada
The district courts: These are trial courts of general jurisdiction which means that they have the authority to hear a myriad of case types including civil, criminal, family, corporate, and probate matters. There are 9 judicial districts in Nevada, covering the 17 counties of the state. Each judicial district has its own district tribunal.
Geographical Distribution and Case Types in District Courts
Five of these districts cover more than 2 counties and the judges serving the district courts in these areas have to travel frequently to the courthouses in all the counties that come under the jurisdiction of that judicial division. The district courts of the second district that is Washoe County and that of the eighth district that is Clark County are the busiest. Together the 9 district courts are served by 82 judges. Typically the cases heard by these tribunals include:
Role and Structure of Justice Courts in Nevada
Justice courts: These are county-level judicial entities. There are 43 justice courts in Nevada that 63 judges serve; nine of these also function as justices of the peace. Justice Courts are limited jurisdiction tribunals that handle preliminary hearings, matters concerning the issue of NV arrest warrants, civil cases up to $10,000, landlord and tenant disputes, and traffic violation cases. District courts review matters that the Justice Courts bring up.
Municipal Courts and Their Functions
Municipal Courts: These are tribunals based at the city/town level. Also limited jurisdiction courts, there are 18 Municipal Courts all over the state and 30 judges serve these; nine of them also act as justices of the peace. These tribunals handle petty offenses including traffic and misdemeanor crime-related cases. Similarly, the Justice of Peace Courts exclusively takes civil cases.
Specialty Courts in Nevada
Apart from these, Nevada also has 42 specialty courts which encompass 16 rural and 26 urban programs. Among these are 17 adult drug courts, 2 family drug courts, and 5 juvenile drug courts. 3 mental health, 4 alcohol and drug addiction courts are added to this mix, as 3 felony DUI and 3 DUI courts.