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Las Vegas Review-Journal - "Gibbons Seeks Re-election to Supreme Court"

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Location: Carson City, NV

Las Vegas Review-Journal - "Gibbons Seeks Re-election to Supreme Court"

Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Gibbons filed for a second term Monday, saying he will continue his longtime commitment to open government if re-elected in November.

Gibbons, 57, is in the final year of his six-year term on the court. On Monday he took over the duties of chief justice for a one-year term.

Gibbons said he is not aware of anyone planning to run against him. The two-week filing period for Supreme Court and District Court races ends Jan. 18.

Monday was the first day to file as a candidate. The new early filing date was changed from May in an effort to reduce the influence of campaign contributions in court races. Court candidates who end up unopposed will be prohibited from soliciting campaign contributions, a change from past practice.

Gibbons, 57, sponsored the new Supreme Court rule prohibiting fund-raising for judicial candidates who do not face an opponent.

If Gibbons does end up with an opponent, a potential election issue will be his support of the controversial 2003 ruling, repudiated by the court three years later, in Guinn v. Legislature. The decision, which came during a stalemate over a proposal by then Gov. Kenny Guinn and some lawmakers to raise taxes, said the constitutional mandate to fund education took precedence over a constitutional provision requiring a two-thirds vote of lawmakers to raise taxes.

The Legislature ultimately did raise taxes by a two-thirds vote in each house but the court decision came in for heavy criticism. The decision contributed in part to the defeat of incumbent Supreme Court Justice Nancy Becker in 2006.

The Supreme Court in 2006 took the opportunity in another case to reverse Guinn v. Legislature.

"I strongly advocated to the court that we overturn Guinn at that time," Gibbons said.

Gibbons said the original ruling came during his first year on the court, which had acted quickly to try to resolve the budget impasse that was threatening funding for the start-up of the approaching school year.

But Gibbons said he was an experienced judge who signed the 2003 decision, so he must accept the criticism from those who questioned its logic.

Gibbons said he wants to look at ways to improve the operation of the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline. The court does not have oversight over the panel, which operates through policy passed by the Legislature, he said.

But the court could create a commission to generate some recommendations to the Legislature on how to more speedily resolve complaints against judges, Gibbons said.

Judges want cases resolved quickly just as the public does, he said.

Before winning Seat D in the Supreme Court unopposed in 2002, Gibbons served as a judge in Clark County District Court. He first won election to the district court bench in 1996.

Gibbons and his wife, Sandra, live in Carson City.

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