In a case filed Monday in Clark County court, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada seeks to restore the ability of North Las Vegas residents to elect a municipal court judge of their choice.
On Feb. 17, the City of North Las Vegas adopted Ordinance No. 3060, creating a new municipal court department and appointing a judge, Christopher Lee, to a 6-year term without any election.
The city’s ordinance directly violates the North Las Vegas City Charter, approved by the Nevada Legislature, which mandates that when the city appoints a judge to fill a vacant position in the Municipal Court, “[n]o such appointment extends beyond the first day of the month following the next general municipal election, at which election the office must be filled for the remaining unexpired term.” The next elections to be held in the City of North Las Vegas are scheduled for June and November of 2022, 5 years and two full election cycles before the appointment described in Ordinance No. 3060 ends.
“In courts throughout the state, appointments fill vacant judicial seats until the next election cycle because Nevada voters, not government officials, determine who ultimately serves as a judge in this state,” said ACLU of Nevada Senior Staff Attorney Sophia Romero. “The city of North Las Vegas’ decision to appoint a judge to a 6-year term without an election ignores the will of the city’s voters and violates the plain language of the North Las Vegas City Charter.”
In its writ, the ACLU of Nevada is asking the court to require the city to hold an election for Municipal Court Department 1 during the 2022 election cycle as required by the North Las Vegas City Charter.