Judges Favor Restrictions Being Lifted
Nevada: The next cycle of judicial elections in Nevada may prove to be more interesting if the Nevada Supreme Court makes the decision to ease restrictions on campaign behavior, which may become a real possibility, especially given the recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court and last fall's voter rejection of merit selection.
Most justices, after comments made at a public hearing on March 10th that determined the future of the high court's Standing Commission on Judicial Ethics and Election Practices, seem on board for lifting the restrictions, which do prohibit judicial candidates in what they can say in a campaign, as well as how and when they raise money.
Chief Justice Michael Douglas and his associates will be debating the issue and redefining the role the committee has had since 1998. The committee works to resolve campaign disputes that come up every election year, as well as advising sitting judges who write to them about certain ethical issues.
Judicial candidates, which include incumbents, are forbidden from the negative campaign bashing other office-seekers engage in, but the United States Supreme Court has stated that this limit infringes upon the First Amendment free-speech protections.
"Voters made the decision to elect judges. That being the case, I am concerned about the extent to how our rules limit incumbents and candidates." stated Justice James W. Hardesty. He also stated that he had reservations on putting restraints on judge candidates that don't exist for other candidates.
The justices still remain silent on the future of the Standing Committee, which is made up of lawyers, judges, and lay people who hear campaign disputes.
Committee chairman Dan Reasor and general counsel David Sarnowski recommends that the high court retain its services, which are mostly provided for free, yet recently elected Judge Ron Israel urged justices to get rid of the committee, or at the very least, override its rules.
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