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State of Nevada

Judicial Campaigns and Elections: Nevada

Campaign Oversight

In 1997, the Nevada Supreme Court established a standing committee on judicial ethics and election practices. One of the committee's functions is to resolve ethical disputes arising in the course of judicial campaigns. The committee is composed of twenty-eight members, including twelve lawyers appointed by the state bar, twelve nonlawyers appointed by the governor, and four judges appointed by the supreme court. The committee is authorized to decide whether judicial campaign practices are proper, to issue public statements regarding unfair election practices, to render non-binding advisory opinions on hypothetical questions regarding the code of judicial conduct, and to refer any matter to the appropriate disciplinary body. The committee is divided into five-member panels to handle complaints.

In 1998, the committee required three district court candidates to alter their campaign materials to conform to the code of judicial conduct. The candidates filed suit, asserting that the committee's decision violated their First Amendment rights. In Mahan v. Judicial Ethics and Election Practices Commission (D. Nev. 2000), a federal judge upheld the provision of the code that bars judicial candidates from knowingly misrepresenting "the identity, qualifications, present position or other fact concerning" themselves or their opponents, but struck down as vague and overbroad a provision that requires judicial candidates to "maintain the dignity appropriate to judicial office" and to "act in a manner consistent with the integrity and independence of the judiciary."