FACTS and FAQs
The primary function of the Commission on Judicial Selection is to fill mid-term judicial vacancies for Nevada on the Supreme Court or District Court bench. Such vacancies usually occur due to the retirement or death of a sitting judge. The Commission does not have a role in the filling of vacancies at the Justice Court or Municipal Court levels.
Interview Process Open to the Public
On December 18, 2007, the Commission on Judicial Selection changed its rules to allow the public into its traditionally confidential interview and deliberation processes to fill mid-term judicial vacancies. The Commission also authorized public access to the applications of those seeking appointment, except for some confidential information contained therein.
The first public interviews and deliberations occurred on July 22, 2008, to determine the three nominees for a vacant Family Court seat in the Eighth Judicial District Court. Since then, attendance by the public and media has been routine.
Applicant Information Available Online
The webpage for the Commission on Judicial Selection provides information about Commission members and rules, as well as access to news releases, schedules, and the applications of those seeking appointment to a vacancy. Applications, however, are only available until the Commission conducts interviews and forwards the names of the three finalists to the Governor.
Filling a Mid-term Judicial Vacancy
When a midterm vacancy occurs for a Supreme Court justice or a District Court judge, the Commission on Judicial Selection solicits applicants, gathers information through extensive applications, conducts comprehensive background investigations, and interviews the applicants.
Applications include information about education, law practice, business and community involvement, professional and personal conduct, and health.
The Commission on Judicial Selection invites written comments from the public about the qualifications of the applicants during the process. Because the process is open, the public also has the opportunity to address the Commission in person before interviews begin and before votes are cast.
Following the interviews, the Commission, chaired by the Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice, deliberates in public, selects three finalists by secret ballot, and sends the names that day to the Governor.
The Commission bases its nominations on the applications, letters of reference, public comments, and responses to verbal questions posed during interviews.
The Governor appoints one of the three nominees as the new judge.
Applications and Documents Public
Most of the application is public, as well as most of the interview process.
Within the application is information containing certain personal identifiers and health details, which are not public. Applications posted on the Commission webpage do not include this confidential information.
All written comments from the public about the qualification of the applicants will remain confidential to ensure the authors can be candid.
When confidential information is at issue during the interview, the Commission may find it necessary to question applicants or discuss matters in Executive Session. On those rare occasions, the Commission will briefly conduct a closed session.
Governor Appoints the New Judge
No time limit exists within which the Governor must make a judicial appointment. However, if an appointment is not made within 30 days following submission of the names by the Commission, the Governor may make no other appointments to public office.
The Term of the New Judge
The appointee must run and win in the next General Election to retain the seat for the remainder of the unexpired term or for a new 6-year term, depending on the timing of the vacancy.
The Commission on Judicial Selection
Regular members of the Commission on Judicial Selection include the Chief Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court, three non‑attorneys appointed by the Governor, and three attorneys appointed by the State Bar of Nevada.
In the appointment of regular Commission members, neither the Governor nor the Bar may appoint more than two members of the same political party, nor choose more than one member from the same county. Regular Commission members serve 4-year terms, with the terms expiring on alternate years. Members are eligible for reappointment.
The regular commission members are:
- Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael L. Douglas, Chair (Constitutional member)
- Valerie Cooney, Esq., Carson City, past executive director of Volunteer Attorneys for Rural Nevadans (State Bar appointee)
- Jeffrey Gilbert, Henderson, veteran gaming executive (Governor appointee)
- Jesse Gutierrez, Sparks, former Executive Director of Nevada Hispanic Services (Governor appointee)
- Gregory Kamer, Esq., Las Vegas, partner of Kamer Zucker Abbott (State Bar appointee)
- Jasmine Mehta, Carson City, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Air Quality Planning (State Bar appointee)
- Leslie Williams, Schurz, administrative assistant for Washoe County Senior Services (Governor appointee)
For District Court vacancies, two temporary members are appointed – a non-attorney by the Governor, and an attorney by the State Bar of Nevada. Temporary members must be residents of the Judicial District in which the vacancy occurs. They serve only until the nominations for the vacancy are transmitted to the Governor.
For further information, contact:
Administrative Office of the Courts