CARSON CITY, Nev. (Legal Newsline) - Nevada Chief Justice James Hardesty has made his case to lawmakers to approve a constitutional amendment that would create a state appeals court to take pressure of the state Supreme Court.
The amendment, outlined in Senate Joint Resolution 9, was approved by lawmakers two years ago and must be approved again this session. If the Senate-approved plan clears the state Assembly, the question would be decided by statewide voters in 2010.
Similar proposals were considered by state voters in 1980 and again in 1992. Both times, voters rejected the argument that the state needed another legal layer to help take some of the workload off the state Supreme Court.
Last year, a panel -- the Article 6 Commission -- created by the Supreme Court to examine Nevada's judicial branch voted unanimously to support the appeals court plan.
"Nevada is, by far, the largest of the 11 states without an intermediate appellate court," Hardesty said in his State of the Judiciary speech Tuesday. "It is time for Nevada to take this step."
The chief justice also urged legislators to increase civil court filing fees in the Silver State, noting that given the state's fiscal woes and the fact that fees have not been increases since 1993, it is time for an increase.
Hardesty said more than 400,000 cases were resolved by Nevada courts in the last fiscal year, including 2,000 matters by the state Supreme Court and more than 100,000 cases in district courts.
"I am proud that our courts continue to meet the challenges placed before us and are providing real solutions for today's problems," Hardesty said. "Nevada's judges and court staff are motivated, enthusiastic, innovative and engaged in making this branch of government the best that it can be."
Tuesday's State of the Judiciary address was Hardesty's first speech to lawmakers since taking over as chief justice this year. Hardesty replaced chief Justice William Maupin, who retired last year.