Three supreme court justices file for re-election

Three members of the Nevada Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Bob Rose, filed for re-election as a group Monday.

Nancy Becker and Myron Leavitt are seeking their first full, six-year terms on the high court. Both were elected for two-year terms in 1998 when the court was expanded from five to seven members.

Rose is seeking his third six-year term in office.

The three admitted that filing at the same time was intended to let people know the court is, for the first time in years, getting along well professionally.

"We are getting along and we are working well together," said Rose.

"There is harmony on the court," Leavitt added.

But they and Becker made it clear that's not to say they agree all the time or that they would be campaigning as a group, which would violate judicial ethics rules barring one judge from endorsing another.

"There's a great deal of diversity and discussion on the court," said Becker.

The court emerged two years ago from a long period of dissension in which justices battled sometimes openly with each other over issues, including attacks on then-District Judge Jerry Whitehead.

The justices said recent problems in a number of states with death cases being overturned amid allegations that innocent men were wrongfully convicted aren't a major problem in Nevada, even though they recently ordered a new trial for John Mazzan after nearly 20 years on death row.

"There are so many safeguards in the system that this is a very unique case," said Leavitt of the Mazzan case.

"I think we look at death penalty cases very closely and I think we always have looked at them closely," said Rose.

He pointed out that most of the Nevada cases center on legal challenges to the trial verdict or sentence, not on a claim that the defendant is innocent.

Becker added that most of the court's deliberations center on whether there is some legal reason why there should be a new trial.

"Very, very few of them have a claim of actual innocence," said Rose.

All three also said they think the seven member court, meeting in northern and southern panels to resolve most cases is doing a better job for Nevada.

"I think we've shown the panel system does work and produces good work," said Rose.


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