Kristina Pickering named Chief Justice at Nevada Supreme Court
Leadership at the state's highest court will change Jan. 5 when Chief Justice Michael A. Cherry ends his term and Justice Kristina Pickering begins the administrative role of Chief Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court.
Pickering will represent Nevada’s courts at the 2013 Nevada Legislature and will give the State of the Judiciary address to lawmakers early in the session. She will serve as Chief Justice until January 2014.
“Justice Pickering will have her challenges with the Legislature, but I am confident that with her leadership and energy the Nevada judiciary will continue to excel in resolving cases and providing access to justice,” Chief Justice Cherry said. “All of the justices look forward to working with and supporting the new Chief Justice.”
The Chief Justice is administrative head of the state’s legal system, speaking publicly for the Court and representing the Nevada Judiciary nationally.
The Chief Justice presides when the Supreme Court sits as the full court, but does not serve as a member of a three-justice panel to hear cases. The Chief Justice, however, does substitute for other justices on panels who must recuse because of conflicts. This gives the Chief Justice roughly half the caseload of other justices in addition to the extensive administrative and public duties.
Under the Nevada Constitution, only Justices in the last two years of their current 6-year term of office are eligible to be Chief Justice. The current cycle included three eligible justices who agreed to share the leadership duties. Justice Michael Douglas served from January to September 2011 before handing off the position to Chief Justice Nancy Saitta.
Chief Justice Cherry, who has led the court since May 7, 2012, had a busy term having chaired the Commission on Judicial Selection during the processes to nominate successors for five District Court vacancies — four due to retirements and one because of the death of 10th Judicial District Judge David Huff.
“Serving as Chief Justice was a very memorable and fulfilling experience despite the Supreme Court’s growing caseload and the state’s challenging economic climate,” said Chief Justice Cherry. He lamented that funding for the Supreme Court has become “bare bones” with staff being required to take pay cuts and furloughs.
“I hope the Legislature restores full pay for the court employees who have been loyal and efficient, but are the lowest paid of government employees,” Chief Justice Cherry said.
— Headed the Court as it took “Justice on the Road” for oral arguments by the full court at Douglas High School in Minden on September 7, 2012 – the first time the Court ever sat in Douglas County.
— Presented the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice’s Award to retired Eighth Judicial District Judge John McGroarty and retired Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Nancy Oesterle for their decades of service and innovative programs they began. Judge McGroarty was a longtime child advocate who was instrumental in the creation of the Family Court and the Mental Health Court. Judge Oesterle hosted the television show Law for the Layman and created the Keys to the Courthouse program to educate Clark County students.
— Presided over the presentation of the Legacy of Justice Award to retired Supreme Court Justice Miriam Shearing. Justice Shearing was the first woman elected as Justice of the Peace in Las Vegas (1976), the first woman elected as a District Court judge in Nevada (1982), and the first woman elected to sit on the Nevada Supreme Court (1992). In 1997 she became the first woman to serve as Chief Justice.
— Attended the Conference of Chief Justices in July in St. Louis, MO, where his counterparts from across the country focused on ways to address the states’ court funding dilemma.