“It is an honor to become chief justice of the Supreme Court and I will strive to maintain the high standards that Nevadans have grown to expect from our Chief Justices,” said Cherry, who will hold the post until January 2013.
Saitta acknowledged the challenges that will face the courts during Cherry’s term as chief justice.
“Serving as chief justice was a very memorable and fulfilling experience. Of course, the difficulties that all courts are facing given today’s economic climate will continue to be a challenge,” Saitta said. “I am, however, confident that the Nevada judiciary will continue to work diligently to protect access to justice. “
“Chief Justice Saitta elevated the public profile of the Nevada Judiciary and helped the courts continue to fulfill their constitutional role despite increasing caseloads and diminishing resources,” Cherry said. “I have no doubt the Supreme Court will meet tomorrow’s challenges.”
He noted that the Supreme Court will be addressing many cases involving Nevada’s construction and foreclosure crises.
“During the past few years, there has been an increase in cases involving foreclosure mediation and construction defects,” Cherry said. “Before I joined the court there were not many of these types of cases, but they have increased dramatically.”
The chief justice is administrative head of the state’s legal system, speaking publicly for the court and representing the Nevada judiciary nationally.
The chief justice presides when the Supreme Court sits as the full court, but does not serve as a member of a three-justice panel to hear cases. The chief justice, however, does substitute for other justices on panels who must recuse because of conflicts. This gives the chief justice roughly half the caseload of other justices in addition to the extensive administrative and public duties.
Cherry began his judicial career when he was elected District Court judge in Clark County in 1998. He was elected to the Supreme Court in 2006.
He has been an attorney in Nevada since 1970, starting his career as a Clark County deputy public defender before becoming a partner in the law firms of Manos & Cherry and later Cherry, Bailus & Kelesis.
In 1981, Cherry was named as special master of the MGM Grand Hotel fire litigation and in 1983 he assumed the duties of Special Master of the Las Vegas Hilton Fire Litigation. As special master, Cherry served as liaison between plaintiffs’ attorneys, defense attorneys and the court during these multi-million dollar cases. His work as special master gained him nationwide recognition and the procedures he established are now a part of
most mass disaster litigation.
At the Supreme Court, Cherry chairs the Indigent Defense Commission that is examining how the justice system deals with criminal defendants who cannot hire their own attorneys. He also is the supervising justice over the Senior Justice and Judge Program.
Chief Justice Cherry earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri in 1966 and a juris doctorate degree from Washington University School of Law in 1969. A native of St. Louis, he is the father of two and grandfather of two.
Under the Nevada Constitution, only Justices in the last two years of their current six-year term of office are eligible to be chief justice. This cycle included three eligible justices who agreed to share the leadership duties. Justice Michael Douglas served from January to September 2011 before handing off the position to Saitta.