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August 22, 2014

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Nevada’s top justices want a more secure work environment

Nevada Supreme Court justices don’t want personal bodyguards but they do want higher security at the courthouse in Carson City and adjoining offices.

“The security threats are real,” Justice James Hardesty told a joint Senate-Assembly budget subcommittee Wednesday.

Currently the Capitol Police provide two officers who are stationed on the second floor of the building scanning the monitors, he said. But there is no security on the first floor of the law library and in an adjoining building that houses staff.

Hardesty and Chief Justice Kristina Pickering went before the subcommittee to explain their $25 million budget for the coming two fiscal years.

Included is money for the court’s own police staff. Hardesty said it would be paid for through savings from the elimination of the two Capitol Police officers, Hardesty said.

He was careful to say he did not want to be disrespectful to the two officers but added they sit in a room and only watch the screens that monitor only one floor of the three-story building.

The court also has a chief of police on staff answerable to the justices, not to the Capitol Police. In Las Vegas, court marshals provide security.

The justices receive threats in “the mail and other items” but they don’t want full-time bodyguards. As an example, he said Pickering works until 1 a.m. in Las Vegas and leaves the building unescorted.

“We need three officers” for the courthouse in Carson City, said Hardesty.

The court is also asking for two attorneys in Las Vegas to screen the increasing number of civil appeals. There were 2,500 appeals filed in 2012 but the maximum cases that can be handled by the seven justices are 2,270.

By 2015, Hardesty said the back log would be 1,900 cases and that would grow to 3,300.

“A potential crisis is about to happen,” he told the committee that did not take any action on the budget.

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