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The Current State of Court Operations in Nevada
March 17, 2020


HOW NEVADA COURTS ARE REACTING

  1. The state and federal courthouses remain open but with modified operations. Lawsuits can still be filed, and clerks will be answering phones during business hours.

  2. In state court, closures and modifications to hearings and trials vary district-by-district:

    a. In Las Vegas (Eighth Judicial District) and Washoe County (Second Judicial District), all currently scheduled non-essential district court hearings have been ordered to be conducted by video or telephonic means, decided on the papers, or rescheduled unless otherwise directed by a district court judge. Essential case types (mostly criminal, guardianship, domestic, and civil temporary restraining orders or preliminary and permanent injunctive relief hearings) will continue to be heard through in-person appearances, although appearance by alternative means is encouraged when possible. All jury trials, civil and criminal, scheduled for the next 30 days will be suspended and rescheduled as the court calendar allows. No summonsed prospective jurors are to appear, but ongoing jury trials will finish. Importantly, all civil cases are stayed for the purposes of NRCP 41(e), which requires dismissal of a case if a plaintiff fails to bring it to trial within five years after the action was filed. This stay is in effect until April 17, 2020, at least. Further updates can be found at http://www.clarkcountycourts.us/ and https://www.washoecourts.com/.

    b. In Douglas County (Ninth Judicial District) and Fallon (Tenth Judicial District), the district courts are currently holding normal courtroom operations, but encourage individuals to contact the court immediately if they have an upcoming court date and are experiencing flu-like symptoms or are at a high risk of contracting or carrying COVID-19. The court will continue to evaluate this decision as the situation evolves.

    c. Currently, the following district courts have no policies in effect related to COVID-19: Carson City (First Judicial District), Fernley (Third Judicial District), Elko (Fourth Judicial District), Pahrump/Tonopah (Fifth Judicial District), Winnemucca (Sixth Judicial District), Ely (Seventh Judicial District), Battle Mountain, Lovelock and Hawthorne (Eleventh Judicial District).

  3. The Nevada Supreme Court and Nevada Court of Appeals https://nvcourts.gov/supreme/ are allowing lawyers to participate in oral argument by videoconferencing equipment upon written request sent to the Clerk for the Court and filed and served at least three business days before the date set for oral argument.

  4. In federal district court, all civil and criminal trials, including any associated deadlines, are continued until April 10, 2020. All non-case related events (such as professional organization meetings) have also been postponed. Additionally, temporary restrictions regarding entrance to the courthouse have been imposed on individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, those who reside with an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 days, those who have been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital or health agency because of COVID-19, or those who have symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, severe cough, or shortness of breath. These restrictions apply to employees as well. Affected individuals can contact the court to discuss alternatives. These restrictions are in place until the federal court determines it is safe to remove them. Further updates can be found at https://www.nvd.uscourts.gov/.

  5. In bankruptcy court, all trials and hearings that require the presentation of evidence in the form of live witness testimony, along with all associated pre-hearing and pre-trial deadlines, are continued and shall be reset to a date no sooner than April 10, 2020. All other hearings which do not require the presentation of evidence in the form of live witness testimony are remaining on calendar as scheduled absent further court order. Like federal district court, all non-case related events have been suspended. Any future changes will be posted on the court’s website (https://www.nvb.uscourts.gov/) and may vary between offices (Las Vegas and Reno).

  6. Responses are evolving and these procedures may be adjusted as the outbreak continues. Each court will be reevaluating the above procedures and modifying as needed. Modified operations and procedures posted on any court’s website due to coronavirus may change daily.

 WHAT THE PARTIES CAN DO

 Parties can still send out and answer written discovery, including requests for documents. If a responding party faces delays in accessing and gathering responsive documents due to business disruptions, the parties should, consistent with the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct, work to agree on reasonable extensions.

  1. Depositions can occur on a completely remote basis upon stipulation of the parties. This includes a court reporter administering the oath to the witness via video or telephone. Every person who would otherwise attend a deposition in-person can do so in a separate remote location. The deposition is deemed to have taken place where the deponent answers the questions. 

  2. If a trial is being postponed but a speedy adjudication was considered important, consider a stipulation to arbitrate or mediate in lieu of trial. As with depositions, so long as the parties stipulate, there are alternatives to entirely in-person alternative dispute resolutions.

To speak to Ashley Nikkel about this or other related matters, call (775) 323-1601 or send an email to anikkel@parsonsbehle.com.