Las Vegas Sun

December 18, 2014

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Chief Justice gives students an inside view of Nevada Supreme Court

Guests and students of the College of Southern Nevada's Paralegal Studies Program had a chance to hear about the inner workings of the Nevada Supreme Court when Chief Justice Mark Gibbons visited the CSN Charleston campus as a guest speaker on Dec. 8.

Gibbons, who was elected to his first six-year term on the bench in 2002 and re-elected last month, discussed a variety of topics ranging from how the Nevada Supreme Court operates to the types of cases he hears.

He also shared stories about his experiences as a trial judge in the Clark County District Court, where he served for six years before moving to Carson City. Gibbons said he would often receive late-night phone calls from Metro Police asking for search warrants.

"If no other judges are answering their phones and you're next on the list, you can get a late-night phone call," he said. "The officers would come to my house, show me their badges and we would sit down at my kitchen table."

After reviewing the paperwork detailing the warrant, Gibbons would swear in the officers in his own dining room.

"I would have them raise their right hand and swear that the information is true and correct," he said. "They say 'yes' and then I say they have probable cause for a search warrant. I sign the search warrant itself, give it to them and they go on the search."

One student asked Gibbons how difficult it was to wake up at 2 a.m. and quickly shift into the mode of being a judge.

"It's not easy," he said. "You're sound asleep and then you have to get up, do your job and go back to sleep. Then you have to be at court the next morning and you can't have people sitting and waiting for you."

Over his six years with the Clark County District Court, Gibbons presided over more than 120 civil and criminal jury trials including 13 murder cases.

Prior to his experience as a judge, he was a lawyer in Las Vegas specializing in real estate litigation.

Gibbons said that although he needed intense studying in criminal law before assuming his District Court duties in 1996, he picked it up fairly quickly.

"With the Supreme Court, at least I get more time to study and prepare," he said. "In District Court cases, you have to work much faster."

Gibbons said it was a pleasure to meet with the CSN students.

"I hope they continue with their legal careers, whether as lawyers or paralegals," he said. "It's all part of the process in turning our legal system over to the next generation. They play an important role in our future and I hope I inspired them."

Jeff O’Brien can be reached at 990-8957 or [email protected].

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