The Nevada Judiciary today announced it has released its 2021 Annual Report, which highlights the Nevada Judiciary’s key activities over the last year. These activities included advancements, improvements, and judicial education that assisted the courts in overcoming the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and positioned it for future endeavors that ensure the public has access to judicial resources going forward.
“Even with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, the Judiciary achieved noteworthy successes,” said Chief Justice James W. Hardesty. “This Annual Report showcases how we, along with our justice partners, were able to pivot and continue to provide access to the courts through new programs and innovations. These advances will ensure Nevada Courts will remain a fair, accessible, and convenient branch of government to our communities.”
During the year, the pandemic presented the Judiciary with many challenges. For instance, jury trials had to be suspended, which became a significant challenge to the trial courts. At the request of Chief Justice Hardesty, every judicial district in the state submitted a plan to create more venues, retrofit courtrooms, and provide safe facilities to conduct jury trials. These plans proved pivotal in pushing forward the wheels of justice.
While jury trials have resumed, the impact of the pandemic on the Judiciary remains. An analysis on pages 26-27 of the report uses the current filings trends compared to filings before the pandemic, coupled with the lifting of eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, to suggest future increases in filings that could present more challenges to the already increasing pending caseloads of the Judiciary.
In contrast, the Annual Report documents significant progress made by the Appellate Courts. Their pending cases are at the lowest number in decades thanks in great measure to the success of the Court of Appeals, as well as decreases in appeals due in part to the limitation on the courts to hold substantive proceedings during the pandemic.
Furthermore, the Annual Report shows that over the course of the year, the courts saw more than 335,000 civil, criminal, family, and juvenile cases filed and more than 350,000 traffic matters cited in the courts. District Courts experienced increases in civil and criminal filings, while juvenile cases saw significant decreases due to fewer delinquency and dependency matters being filed. Justice and Municipal Courts saw continued total filing decreases from 2019. Overall, the Nevada Judiciary had a non-traffic disposition rate of 94 percent.
The report also reflects information on the three new commissions that were created this year that improve the legal foundation of our state. Chief Justice Hardesty petitioned the Nevada Supreme Court to consider the creation of the Commission on Nevada Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Commission to Study Best Practices for Virtual Advocacy in Nevada’s Courts, and the Commission to Study the Statutes and Rules of the Commission on Judicial Discipline.
The Annual Report features statistics that the trial courts have provided since 1999, at the direction of the Supreme Court. The 44-page document can be viewed at https://nvcourts.gov/supreme/.