Summary Review of Court Systems -
Structure of Civil Courts
Nevada’s court system is comprised of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the District Courts, the Justice Courts, and the Municipal Courts.
Nevada’s Municipal Courts are city-funded courts of limited jurisdiction. These courts manage traffic violations and misdemeanor offenses that occur within the city limits of incorporated municipalities. NRS § 5.050 (1). Municipal courts also have jurisdiction over certain civil matters when the city is a party and the amount at issue does not exceed $2,500.00. NRS § 5.050 (2). The Justice Courts are county-funded and handle misdemeanor crime and traffic matters, evictions, protection orders, and other civil matters not exceeding $15,000.00. NRS § 4.370.
Nevada has eleven District Courts with general jurisdiction over all legal disputes over $15,000.00. NRS Ch. 3. These courts hear criminal, civil, family, and juvenile matters, as well as appeals from Justice and Municipal Court cases. Districts that contain a county with a population over 100,000 also have a designated family court division within the district court. NRS § 3.0105. The two Nevada districts that qualify for a designated family court division are the Second District for Washoe County, which includes the city of Reno, and the Eighth District for Clark County, which includes the city of Las Vegas. NRS §§ 3.0125, 3.0184.
The Nevada Court of Appeals is a relatively new court established by a constitutional amendment approved by the Nevada voters in 2014. This intermediate court operates under a deflective model, hearing cases originally submitted to the Nevada Supreme Court. NRS § 2A.160. The Supreme Court assigns approximately one-third of its cases to the Court of Appeals for judicial efficiency. Id. The Supreme Court of Nevada is the state’s highest court and primarily hears appeals from District Court cases, reviewing for legal or procedural errors during the case. NRS § 2.090.
Basis of Jurisdiction
Civil jurisdiction between the Justice Courts and the District Courts is determined by the amount in controversy. The Justice Courts have jurisdiction over matters not exceeding $15,000.00, while the District Courts exercise jurisdiction over matters exceeding $15,000.00. NRS § 4.370; NRCP § 8(4). If the District Court determines that a case is properly within the jurisdiction of the Justice Court, it may transfer original jurisdiction over the case to the Justice Court. NRS § 3.221.
Nevada does not have designated business litigation courts. Business matters will be heard in the civil division of the District Court or Justice court, depending on the amount in controversy.
Nevada does not require mediation, but parties may stipulate to engage in mediation. Nevada does employ a mandatory court annexed non-binding arbitration program for certain civil cases commenced in judicial districts that include a county whose population is 100,000 or more. NV ST ADR ARB Rule 1. Judicial districts having a lesser population may adopt local rules implementing all or part of the program. Id. The matters which are subject to this arbitration program include civil cases where damages do not exceed $50,000 per plaintiff, exclusive of interest and costs, and regardless of comparative liability. NV ST ADR ARB Rule 3. The Nevada Arbitration rules specifically exempt some matters from the program, such as class actions and domestic relations actions or when the plaintiff is seeking non-monetary damages. Id. The arbitration is non-binding; therefore, a party may appeal the arbitration award and the matter will proceed to a one-day short trial. NV ST ADR ARB Rule 18. A non-mandatory court annexed mediation program is also available as an alternative to the arbitration program N.M.R 1(a). The parties may stipulate to the alternative mediation program within 15 days after the filing of an answer by the first answering defendant. N.M.R. 2. Matters in this program that are not resolved in mediation will proceed to a short trial. N.M.R. 9.
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