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December 21, 2014

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Four seek high court seat as Justice Maupin bows out

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Nancy Allf

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Don Chairez

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Kris Pickering

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Deborah Schumacher

CARSON CITY — Nevada's primary election balloting will narrow a field of four candidates for the state Supreme Court to two contenders who will face one another in the November general election.

Nancy Allf, Deborah Schumacher, Kris Pickering and Don Chairez all say they're qualified to serve on the state's highest court. Schumacher points out she's the only sitting judge, in Washoe County Family Court, and Chairez notes he was a district judge in Las Vegas. He's also the only candidate who sees himself as an activist on and off the bench.

The candidates for the Supreme Court's seat B jumped into the nonpartisan race after Justice Bill Maupin announced in January that he wouldn't seek re-election to a third six-year term.

Contribution-spending reports are due next week (see more recent story) at the secretary of state's office, and will show some heavy spending in the race. For example, an Allf campaign staffer said Friday that a preliminary report shows her getting about $500,000 in contributions and spending a similar amount.

In campaign statements and interviews, the candidates are providing voters with a wide range of information _ not all of it typical job resume material.

Chairez calls himself a "hero of property rights" because of his advocacy for a ballot initiative to rein in the government's ability to take private property through eminent domain proceedings.

The other candidates avoid calling themselves judicial activists, saying it's important for the seven justices who serve on the Nevada Supreme Court to follow judicial precedent, state law and voter-approved initiatives in deciding cases. But they also agree that at times there are precedents that must be overturned.

Voters can get some additional insights from statements such as Pickering's reference to Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative Republican named to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Bush, as a role model because of his court conduct; or Allf's campaign mailer pointing to endorsements from prominent Nevada Democrats and from the powerful Culinary Workers Union, Local 226.

Schumacher, 52, was appointed as a Washoe County Family Court judge in 1997 by then-Gov. Bob Miller, and was unopposed in two re-election bids. Prior to serving as a judge, she was a part-time Family Court master and specialized in commercial, real estate and business law.

Allf, 51, has been practicing law since 1982. She was a finalist to replace a retiring Clark County judge last year but wasn't picked by Gov. Jim Gibbons. She was the 2007-2008 president of the State Bar of Nevada, and 1999-2000 president of the Clark County Bar Association.

Pickering, 55, was admitted to the Nevada Bar in 1977 and has specialized in civil litigation. She serves as a settlement judge for the state Supreme Court, and served for 16 years as a member of the Nevada Board of Bar Examiners.

Chairez, 52, a Miller appointee to the district court bench in 1994, resigned in 1998 to make an unsuccessful run as a Republican candidate for Congress. He also lost in bids for state attorney general and the state Supreme Court.

Besides the four-way race for Maupin's seat on the state Supreme Court, there's also a race for the seat held by Chief Justice Mark Gibbons. In the seat D race, Gibbons faces Las Vegas lawyer Thomas Christensen. With only two candidates, there's no primary and instead the candidates advance to the November general election.

Face to Face: Departure day

Reservist and State Sen. Joe Heck (Clark County-R) is heading to Iraq for a tour of duty. Jon talks with Senator Heck on the eve of his departure. Plus, Jon talks with Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice William Maupin about his decision to retire.

Originally aired Tuesday, January 22, 2008.

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