Judge position whittled down to three

Three finalists were announced Thursday for appointment to the Carson City District Court bench being vacated by Judge Michael Fondi.

Former federal prosecutor Bill Maddox, 52, District Attorney Noel Waters, 51, and Reno prosecutor James Shewan, 51, will have their qualifications reviewed by Gov. Kenny Guinn. From the short list an appointment will likely be made in the next couple weeks.

The state's nine-person Commission on Judicial Selection whittled the names down from seven applicants, most of whom came from the Carson City area.

Today is Fondi's last as district judge. He retired after 23 years in the position and has previously served as Carson City District Attorney.

The three candidates described Thursday's interviews as brief relative to the lengthy application process. Committee members asked about the candidates' purposes in seeking the position, and their intentions when it comes time to run for reelection in two years.

"I was a little nervous, but it turned out to be real pleasant," Maddox said. "They asked me about what I thought about running for the office. I told them I'm used to it."

In addition to his current private practice, Maddox has also served as district attorney of Carson City and later as a federal prosecutor.

The committee is made up of seven state bar and governor-appointed members. For the district judge appointment, two local temporary appointees are also included.

Michele Fair, press assistant for Guinn, said a package containing background materials on the candidates will be delivered to the governor's office tomorrow morning. Although he is not required by law, there will likely be an interview process.

Waters considered it an honor to be included in the list.

"Obviously I am happy about being selected," he said. "I am quite confident the committee will make the right decision in the end."

He was also quick to compliment Fondi.

"He has been a real fine jurist," he said. "If he wanted to keep going, that would be fine."

Shewan is a relative unknown to local law practitioners, but his roots are in Carson City. He grew up here, graduating from Carson High School and eventually starting his law career in the Judge Advocate General's office of the army. For the past four years, Shewan has been a deputy district attorney in Washoe County. He prosecutes criminal cases.

"There are a lot of things that I took from Carson City as I grew up," he said. "This is an opportunity to give something back."

Four attorneys bumped from consideration after Thursday's interviews were Patrick O. King, 47, of Gardnerville; Kay M. Macuil, 41, an Elko prosecutor; Tim Terry, 47, head of the Medicaid fraud unit of the Attorney General's Office and Joseph L. Ward, also with the Attorney General's Office.

"I'm not at all surprised that Bill Maddox and Noel Waters went for approval," Fondi said after the finalists were announced. "What I didn't know was who the third choice was going to be."

Fondi expressed confidence in the judicial selection process.


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