Beginning July 1, Mineral County will no longer be associated with the Fifth Judicial District which covers Nye, Esmeralda and Mineral counties.
On May 28, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the legislation which created Nevada’s Eleventh Judicial District which will be made up of Lander, Pershing and Mineral Counties. The change removed Pershing County from the Sixth Judicial District and Mineral from the Fifth Judicial District.
The legislation will hopefully balance the numbers of cases per judge in each of the two current districts. Currently, the Fifth Judicial District is covered by Judge Robert Lane and Judge Kimberley Wanker both of Pahrump. On July 1, Judge Jim Shirley will replace both judges and remove Shirley from the Humboldt County area. The change will have Lane and Wanker representing Nye and Esmeralda counties and the Sixth Judicial District will represent Humboldt County.
“The creation of the Eleventh Judicial District provides the citizens of Nevada with improved access to justice, particularly those citizens in Pershing, Lander, Mineral, Humboldt, Nye and Esmeralda counties,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice James W. Hardesty. “The change also reduces travel time for judges and enables the three judicial districts to become more efficient in managing caseloads.”
The Independent-News reached out to both Lane and Wanker for comment upon hearing of the change. Lane’s response is as follows: “I agree this logistical change is probably better for those who work and appear in court, and I hear the new judge is very good. The change will save taxpayer’s money, but I will miss the clerks, attorneys, police and other people I worked with. I enjoyed my monthly lunches at the senior center, the Armed Forces parades and meeting with the citizens at events. Thank you for electing me to be your judge and letting me make important decisions for the community. I did my best always.”
Lane concluded, “It’s been a wonderful 15 years and someday I will be telling my great grandchildren stories of being the judge for Hawthorne, with pride and affection.”
Mineral County residents will be introduced to a new judge, Jim Shirley, from Lovelock. He received 53 percent of the votes in the general election defeating Todd Plimpton. Shirley received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in 1991 and attended law school at Creighton University School of Law. He has been a practicing attorney in private practice in Salt Lake, Utah from 1994 to 2000; deputy district attorney of Pershing County from 2000-03; District Attorney of same from 2003-14 and will currently sit in his new position until 2021.
When asked for comment, Shirley gave the following, “I am excited with the prospect and opportunity to serve Lander, Mineral and Pershing Counties. I believe that Justice Hardesty undertook this process of changing the districts to benefit Mineral County and the wonderful people who reside there. I look forward to taking over on July 1. I am encouraged by the wonderful reception that I have had from people in Mineral County. I believe that it is a wonderfully historic opportunity for the citizens in three counties. I applaud Justice Hardesty for his willingness to recognize a need in Mineral County for a change. I applaud the Nevada Legislature and Governor for undertaking this historic change.
Wanker did not respond to the Independent-News request for comment.
Mineral County district attorney Sean Rowe said that Shirley has reviewed the budget set forth by commissioners and does not see a need to adjust it.