The Short Trial Program began on July 1, 2002. The Nevada Supreme Court made the Program Mandatory in certain cases in 2005. It’s purpose is simple:
Don’t be misled by the title. Short Trials are real trials with all of the issues of conventional Trials. Parties may appeal Short Trial Judgments pursuant to NSTR Rule 33. Parties may also agree to bound to the decision of the Short Trial Judge or Jury pursuant to NSTR Rule 32.
Clark County’s short trial program was honored by the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research of Boston, Massachusetts, as the 2006 Better Government Competition Award Winner in recognition for an innovative and concrete program to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of government services.
Short Trial Programs saves money
The Short Trial Program saves the taxpayers money by requiring the litigants to pay for costsassociated with trials. The cases are heard in available courtrooms in the District Court by Pro Tem Judges (see, below). In addition to using the Pro Tem Judges, the Court saves money by not providing Bailiffs, Court Reporters, or Court Clerks during the Trials. According to Eighth Judicial District Court’s ADR Commisioner, Chris A. Beecroft, Esq., the Short trial Program in Clark County has saved the system some $1.6 million since its inception.
Cases enter the Short Trial Program in one of two ways: by rule or by agreement of the Parties. NSTR Rule 4(a) requires cases in which a party has filed a request for Trial De Novo following an Arbitration in the Court Annexed Arbitration Program and cases that fail to resolve by a mediation in lieu of Arbitration to enter the Program. See, also, Nevada Arbitration Rules Rule 4 and Part C (Nevada Mediation Rules) of the Rules governing Alternative Dispute Resolution.
NSTR Rule 4(b)(1) allows parties to agree to go straight to a short trial in lieu of participating in the Arbitration Program. Rule 4(b)(2) allows parties not required to participate in Arbitration to agree to resolve a case by use of a Short Trial.
NSTR Rule 5 allows Parties to a Demand to Remove cases from the Short Trial Program. That Rule also requires Demands for Removal to be filed within strict time limits . Removal of cases subject to mandatory participation in the short trial program. It also requires the Party demanding the removal to deposit $1,000.00 to cover costs and Jury Fees at the time the demand is made. The ability to remove a case from the Short Trial Program if not done timely or if the Party fails to deposit the $1,000.00 with the Court a the time the Demand is made.
Parties have also agreed to District Court Judges try cases using the Short Trial format. This saves the litigants money while saving the Court time. In such cases, the Court will hear the case in one (1) day as opposed to 2 or more days if the case was heard as a conventional Jury Trial. Judges who have used this efficient method include: Kenneth C. Cory (Dept. 1), Judge Douglas W. Herndon (Dept. 3), Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez (Dept. 11), Judge Timothy C. Williams (Dept. 16), Michael P. Villani (Dept. 17), and Susan H. Johnson (Dept. 22). I apologize if I have missed any Judges who have tried cases using the Short Trial Rules and will amend this posting if requested. I am sure that any Judge would consider using the Short Trial format in appropriate cases.
What is a Pro Tem Judge?
It is my understanding that Nevada is the only State to have Short Trials heard by Pro Tem Judges. A Pro Tem Judge is a Lawyer appointed by the Court to act as a Judge over a case in the Short Trial Program. Pro Tem Judges can bill up to $250.00 in costs and $1,500.00 at a rate of $150.00 per hour for their time for each case which has been assigned to them. See, NSTR Rules 28, 29 and 30. See, also, NSTR Rule 31 regarding the allocation of fees and costs. There are currently 76 Pro Tem Judges in Clark County. You can go to ADR Commissioner Beecroft’s page to see the current list of Pro Tempore Judges.
Lawyers apply to the Court if the want to serve the community by acting as Pro Tem Judges in District Court. In Order to qualify, the Lawyer must be an active member of the Nevada State Bar and be a retired Jurist or have the equivalence of 10 years of Trial experience. Once accepted as a Judge in the Program, the Lawyer must take three (3) hours of training before beginning to serve as a Pro Tem Judge in the Program. The Lawyer must continue to take three (3) hours of training for each year they remain on the Short Trial Judge Pro Tem panel. The experience and training requirements are intended to provide qualified Judges to hear cases in the Program.
This post was going to entirely cover the Short Trial Program. However, after beginning to write, it looks like the Short Trial Program will cover five (5) postings. Next up are some raw numbers regarding the Clark County Short Trial Program.