Maddox named to district court judgeship

Bill Maddox was appointed Monday to succeed retired Carson City district judge Michael Fondi, and he wasted little time getting to work.

Gov. Kenny Guinn's office announced the appointment on Monday, and by 4:45 p.m. Maddox was on the bench in the Department 2 courtroom with his first case.

In a show of modern symbolism, Fondi handed over his key card to Maddox. The two exchanged pleasantries as Fondi bid farewell to the courtroom.

The appointment brings Maddox's career in law full circle. He started as a Carson City deputy district attorney, working his way up to district attorney before a four-year stint as a Reagan-appointed federal prosecutor.

For several years he has operated a private practice, interrupted only by an unsuccessful bid to unseat Nevada Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa in 1994.

"The governor made an excellent choice," Fondi said. "The thing I admire about Bill is his work ethic; how he is willing to jump right in there."

Maddox, 52, will continue his introduction to the position with a full calender of arraignments, sentencings and status checks this morning.

This week he will also be responsible for assembling a jury and conducting a criminal trial. Fondi has volunteered to guide him, although through Maddox's courtroom experience, he has accrued an understanding of how the court works and case law, Fondi said.

Today also marks Maddox's 18th wedding anniversary. Fondi was the presiding justice over the ceremony.

Seven area lawyers applied for the vacant district court position when Fondi, 63, announced his retirement in July. Fondi's last day was Aug. 11.

Seven were whittled to three by the state's Commission on Judicial Selection, headed by Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Rose. The nine commission members sent applicants Noel Waters, 51, James Shewan, 51, and Maddox to the governor's office for further consideration.

Interviews were conducted Thursday.

Waters, current district attorney in Carson City, was also satisfied with Guinn's choice. He said the selection process made him confident that Guinn chose the best person for the job.

"As I've said before I was honored to make the top three list," he said. "This option kind of unfolded suddenly for me. It felt right to throw my hat in the ring and I was heartened at all the support I received."

Shewan said he was not surprised at the decision. Though he was raised in Carson City, the bulk of his career was spent in the Army, where he served as a prosecutor and defense attorney in the Office of the Judge Advocate General. He spent the last four years prosecuting crime as a deputy district attorney in Washoe Valley.

"He has covered it all," Shewan said of Maddox. "He has had an illustrious career."

Shewan said despite losing out to Maddox, he still has his sights set on a judgeship in the future.

Like his replacement, Fondi served as Carson City district attorney for six years, and as chief deputy district attorney for four years prior. Out of law school, he worked as a deputy attorney general.

Maddox will start with a salary of about $100,000 a year. Following 23 years on the bench, Fondi was making $122,000, the maximum a judge can receive.


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