Virtual Bench Bar Clears up Questions on Civil Division Operations During Coronavirus State of Emergency

By Robert Horne, State Bar of Nevada Staff

In early May, the Eighth Judicial District Court held a virtual bench bar meeting, at which more than 100 participants joined to address questions regarding Administrative Orders that dictate how the Civil Division of the Eighth Judicial District is functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Judge Gloria Sturman offered tips for civil attorneys, including recommending the use of the court’s remote appearance page and the administrative order matrix that cross-references all  COVID-19-related orders.

Judge Sturman estimated the probate commissioner is reviewing up to 140 unopposed matters per week, which takes time. Anyone attempting to execute a will at this time will need to get remote notarization of documents, she recommended.

Chief Judge Linda Bell said trials will be delayed because the court cannot start bringing in jurors. Once the COVID-19 orders expire, she said, it will take six weeks to summons jurors and have them report. She made it clear that jurors would be brought back with safety protocols in place and adherence to social distancing requirements.

Judge Bell also said time does not count right now regarding deadlines. She recommended reading AO 20-13.

Judge Jerry Wiese said all settlement conferences scheduled through the Department 30 program for May are vacated. He hopes to get conferences going again in June.

Commissioner Erin Truman said discovery is fully operating. Truman encouraged any arbitrator or party who would like to do their arbitration by videoconference or on the briefs to go forward if the parties agree. Any in-person arbitrations will have to wait until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, she said.

An Administrative Order authorizes the commissioner to grant 60-day extensions for good cause, if the 12-month arbitration time limit will expire during the COVID-19 state of emergency. For cases where the 12-month deadline expires after the restrictions are lifted, Truman will review each arbitrator’s request for extension of time on a case-by-case basis.

With respect to tolling, Commissioner Truman said any discovery that was served during this period would be due 30 days after the order expires. She is conducting hearings Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday.

For more information, visit the Eighth Judicial District Court’s blog.