What is the purpose of the Supreme Court of Nevada?
One of the informal traditions of the American legal system is that all litigants are guaranteed at least one appeal after a final judgment on the merits. Due process of law is assured, if after a trial, a state supreme court reviews the trial court decision to ensure that justice has been served and detect if error occurred which would have made the result different.
The main constitutional function of the Supreme Court is to review appeals made directly from the decisions of the district courts. The Supreme Court does not pursue fact-finding by conducting trials, but rather determines whether legal errors were committed in the rendering of the lower court’s decision. While the Court must consider all cases filed, it has the discretion to send appeals to the Nevada Court of Appeals for final resolution, as well as the power to determine the jurisdiction of that court.
In Nevada, the state supreme court is the ultimate judicial body in the court system (i.e., that state’s court of last resort). State supreme court’s interpretation of any state law is generally final and binding to both state and federal courts
Nevada also has a unique procedure for appeals. All appeals are filed with the Supreme Court which then keeps all cases of first impression for itself to decide. It forwards the remaining cases – which deal with points of law it has already addressed – to the intermediate Court of Appeals. Under this so-called “push-down” or “deflection” model of appellate procedure, the state supreme court can immediately establish final statewide precedents on important issues of first impression as soon as they arise, rather than waiting several months or years for the intermediate appellate court to make a first attempt at resolving the issue (and leaving the law uncertain in the interim).
What makes an excellent Supreme Court Justice?
While an individual is elected by the people to a position on the Nevada Supreme Court, a judge is not chosen to be a policy-maker, like a legislator, or the enforcer of the law. Judges are not to usurp the roles of the other branches of government (as we so often see done by judges in the federal courts). This would violate the doctrine of separation of powers and act as if they make the law or have the prerogative to take over the functions of those charged with executing the law. Judges who respect their limited role should instead inspire confidence in the courts.
There are several important characteristics of a good judge including, but not limited to, intelligence, fairness balanced by personal restraint, courtesy, and an ability to work hard to ensure thorough preparation for court. I believe I have these qualities and many more that would allow me to execute my role in the Nevada Supreme Court lawfully and with due diligence. Decades in the legal field have shown that I have the capabilities and understanding to properly interpret the law and apply the facts. Preparation is my badge of honor.
A judge must also treat all attorneys and parties with respect. The law is to be applied consistently, regardless of who the parties are or who their lawyers might be. In court, the mighty and the powerful play on the same level ground as the humble and modest.
The law is not about what is in the interest of the stronger, but faithfulness to what the law says and the outcome it requires. “Lawless are they who make who make the law their will.”