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Elko Daily Free Press - Pickering Seeks High Court's Seat B

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Location: Elko, NV

Elko Daily Free Press - Pickering Seeks High Court's Seat B

Doug McMurdo

Activist judges have angered many Americans in recent years; legislating from the bench flies in the face of the rule of law.

For Kris Pickering, one of four attorneys who seek Seat B of the Nevada Supreme Court, the rule of law is the only duty on which a judge at any level should focus.

"I have a deep belief in the rule of law," Pickering said in a recent interview. "The job of the court is to decide individual cases … that's a very conservative point of view but it allows people to feel protected and it's my greatest reason for running. It is important to have disciplined thinking."

A graduate of Reno High who was named a Presidential Scholar from Nevada and a National Merit Scholar, which provided a full-ride four-year scholarship, Pickering chose to attend Yale University, graduating cum laude. She then attended Georgetown University Law Center and graduated from the University of California, Davis School of Law - ranked among the top five students.

Armed with numerous academic awards, Pickering returned home to Reno, gained admittance to the Nevada Bar and clerked for renowned jurist Bruce Thompson. Thompson was a federal district judge; the federal building in Reno is named in his honor.

While she has practiced in virtually every legal arena, Pickering and her law firm, Morris, Pickering and Peterson, specialize in civil litigation.

Three other attorneys are in the race. Justice Bill Maupin does not seek another six-year term.

Pickering believes she is the most qualified for one reason. "The depth and breadth of my experience is what separates me from my worthy opponents," she said.

Of the four - Deborah Schumacher, Dan Chairez and Nancy Alff are the other three - Pickering believes she has more experience practicing law before the Supreme Court, from writing complicated briefs to presenting oral arguments.

"Experience is critical," she said. "You have to understand how the (Supreme) Court works."

She doesn't take a stand on whether Nevada is in need of an intermediate court to handle the growing number of appeals that now go directly to the Supreme Court, particularly in the face of the worst economy the state has seen in more than 60 years, but she agrees the high court is busy.

"My number one priority is to focus on the rule of law. The Constitution is first, (Nevada Revised) statutes are second, and precedence is third.

"If you have a judge doing the job in an honest and scholarly way people will know, people need to know, your decision was fair whether they win or not."

If elected, Pickering said she would push to have more decisions published, to "act as a guide" for attorneys.

With 28 years under her belt, Pickering along the way became an elected member of the American Law Institute - a national group dedicated to the principled administration and application of the law. She has also been recognized by Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers, Benchmark, Chambers, and Martindale Hubbell - all recognized and respected peer review organizations.

She has taught law at both the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Nevada, Reno.

She now lives in Las Vegas, but Pickering is no stranger to rural Nevada.

Her late father, pediatrician Donald Pickering, was involved in the beginning of the University of Nevada Medical School.

"He used to drive all over northern Nevada to take care of critically ill children. Sometimes I went with him and that's how I found my deep love for Nevada."

In Elko during the Fourth of July weekend, Pickering marched in the parade. She was recognized by a spectator who remembered her father and sent her the following e-mail:

Mrs. Pickering,

Today at the parade I saw you for the first time and something about you seemed familiar. I got home and went to your web site and read your biography. I found the connection. Your dad. My wife and I were introduced to your dad by some close friend that had twins premature babies that your dad cared for. One of them lived 30 days and the other 45. Your dad told my friends to file bankruptcy on him due the fact that they could not pay the bill or Washoe Med. Later on when my third son was born he had seizures that gave him grand mal attacks and your dad became his doctor. He took care of my son till he was five then took him off the meds and all was okay. Your dad retired after that and moved to Alaska. I'm sorry to here of his passing away the 19th of this month in 2006. I want to say that you have my vote and appreciation of your family. Thank You.

She asked the writer's name be withheld for privacy, but the e-mail hit home. "I can't tell you how that made me feel. I was overwhelmed and reminded why I love rural Nevada."

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