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How Does the Nevada Court of Appeals Work?

The U.S State of Nevada has two appellate courts: the Supreme Court, the state’s central appellate court, and the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals was created in 2014 under Article 6 of the Nevada Constitution and officially began court operations in January 2015. While in most U.S States, the Court of Appeals acts as an intermediary between the Supreme Court and lower courts, and functions independently of the Supreme Court, Nevada’s appellate court structure is different.

Appeals are not filed directly in the Nevada Court of Appeals but rather in the Supreme Court. Depending on the case type, the Supreme Court may then assign the case to the Court of Appeals. This approach to handling appeals is referred to as the deflective model. It is adopted to expedite the time to disposition and lighten the caseload of the Supreme Court. This allows the Supreme Court to focus on the more complex and precedent-relevant petitions. Cases assigned to the Court of Appeals amount to a third of all cases filed in the Supreme Court per year. The 2019 Annual Report of the Nevada Judiciary revealed that 2,982 cases were filed in the Supreme Court. Of that number, 1,096 court cases (58%) were diverted to the Court of Appeals.

Under Rule 17 of the Nevada Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Court of Appeals has jurisdiction to hear and decide the following appeals assigned to it from the Nevada Supreme Court:

  • Final judgments based on a guilty, guilty but mentally ill, or nolo contendere (Alford) pleas. A nolo contendere plea is when a defendant does not admit guilt but accepts the court’s punishment. In an Alford plea, the defendant still accepts the punishment but claims to be innocent;
  • Final judgments based on jury verdicts for offenses that are not class A or B felonies, or challenges an imposed sentence or sufficiency of the evidence;
  • Post-conviction appeals that challenge a final judgment or sentence for offenses that are not class A felonies;
  • Post-conviction appeals that challenge the time of a sentence; motion to correct an illegal sentence or modify a sentence;
  • Contract disputes where the amount of a claim is less than $75,000;
  • Post-judgment orders in civil cases
  • A judgment, exclusive of interest, attorney fees, and costs, of or under $250,000, of a tort case;
  • Statutory lien matters under NRS Chapter 108;
  • Appeals challenging venue;
  • Family cases excluding termination of parental rights or child abuse and neglect (NRS Chapter 432B);
  • Administrative agency excluding case involving determinations of tax, water, or public utility commission;
  • Appeals challenging the grant or denial of injunctive relief;
  • Cases involving the foreclosure mediation program;
  • Trust and estate matters where the corpus is valued at less than $5,430,000.

Petitions for review heard by the Court of Appeals are resolved by published opinions and unpublished orders. Ordinarily, these cases do not take time to prepare, and though the Court of Appeals works to provide speedy resolutions, there is no specified time range on how long a case may take to be resolved by the court. Once a case is transferred to the Court of Appeals, proceedings generally proceed as described in the Nevada Rules of Appellate Procedure (NRAP).

The Court of Appeals comprises three judges (a chief judge and two associate judges) who sit in a panel to review District Court decisions (Article 6 Section 3A).. The State Governor appoints the judges for an initial term of two years, after which they must be selectedfor a full term (6 years) by qualified electors at general elections. The chief judge is appointed from one of the three judges by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and serves a full term of 4 years instead, that is, after an initial term of 2 years. The qualifications for a judgeship in Nevada’s Court of Appeals, according to NRS Chapter 2A, include:

  • Be a qualified elector as defined by Article 2 Section 1 of the Nevada Constitution
  • Be a resident of the State of Nevada for at least two years
  • Be 25 years of age or above
  • Be licensed and admitted to practice law in Nevada
  • Must have been licensed to practice law for at least 15 years, with two years of practice in Nevada, at least
  • Have no record of removal or retirement from a judicial office

When any judge seat is vacated before the expiration of a term, the Governor will appoint a successor from nominees chosen by the Commission on Judicial Selection (NRS 2A.070) to serve for the term’s remainder. The annual salary of a Court of Appeals judge is $165,000. All three judges are expected to adhere to the rules of the Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct.

A quick search using the Find A Case tool yields case information from the Court of Appeals’ docket. Interested persons may input a case number or details in a caption to obtain case/docket information. Alternatively, court decisions, case documents, and docket information may be found and viewed using the Case Search feature. It is also possible to lookup the recent calendar events of the court.

The Court of Appeals is located at the same Carson City address as the Nevada Supreme Court and also hears appeals in the courtroom located in Las Vegas. Below are both addresses:

201 South Carson Street

Suite 201

Carson City, NV 89701–4780

408 East Clark Avenue

Las Vegas, NV 89101

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