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The Honorable Robert E. Rose Passes Away at Age 82

2/22/2022 2:06:37 PM

For three terms – 18 years – the Honorable Robert E. Rose was a guiding force at the Nevada Supreme Court leading the judiciary into one of its most progressive eras. As chief justice three times, he helped mold the Court into the modern, united court system it is today.


Rose’s path to the Supreme Court was inspired by his clerkship at the high court in 1964-65, although the journey to the bench would take 25 years and pass through several other public service jobs. He practiced law in Reno before being elected Washoe County district attorney in 1970. Four years later, he served one term as lieutenant governor under Governor Mile O’Callaghan. In 1979, he returned to the practice of law, although this time in Las Vegas. His career path turned back to the judiciary in 1986 when he was appointed to the Eighth Judicial District Court bench by then-Governor Richard Bryan. Rose spent two years there before a vacancy occurred at the Supreme Court that provided him with the opportunity to fulfill the dream that began nearly a quarter-century before as a clerk. He won the 1988 election and was re-elected in 1994 and 2000.

During his tenure on the bench, Rose built a reputation in the legal community and the judiciary as a reformer. He championed numerous initiatives to improve the state’s court system, including the Judicial Assessment Commission – the so-called “Rose Commission” – that took an in-depth look at the judiciary and recommended a variety of progressive reforms. He created and co-chaired the Jury Improvement Commission that studied Nevada’s jury system and made numerous recommendations, including increasing juror pay and allowing jurors to ask questions of witnesses during trials, which were later adopted by law or court rule. Rose was also instrumental in expanding the Supreme Court from five to seven members and splitting the Court into two 3-justice panels to hear most cases and help the Court reduce its backlog.

In 2009, the Nevada Supreme Court presented Rose the first Legacy of Justice Award in Las Vegas. The award is given annually to a person in the judiciary whose contributions, innovations and achievements resulted in significant improvements to the justice system. Rose was also presented the Unity Award from the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence for his efforts on behalf of battered women and their families.

Rose proved himself to be a steady leader who worked with integrity and fairness. His intuition, legal knowledge and compassion for the people been were key factors in the evolution of the Nevada Supreme Court as a modern and effective branch of state government.