Mark Gibbons was elected to the Nevada Supreme Court in 2002 and took office in January 2003. He served in the rotating post of chief justice in 2008. He is also a member of a committee that oversees the application of new technology to state judicial functions. Before becoming a justice, he was a state district judge in the Clark County district.
What made you decide to be a lawyer?
Growing up I used to watch Perry Mason and shows like that on TV, and I enjoyed the interaction with the court and that’s why I decided to become an attorney.
Did you ever expect to be a judge?
Not really. When I went to law school, I thought I’d spend my whole career practicing law. But after I’d practiced for over 20 years, I thought I’d like to do a career change and kind of see what I could do to get back to the citizens, so that’s why I decided to run for judge.
As I recall, about the time that you got on the court, they were starting to update. Tell me how the technology has changed.
Oh, it’s amazing. … Every year we have something new, new types of technology available to improve our security, to get work product out faster. It’s difficult to keep up with it, it changes so quick.
We hear a lot about how the executive agencies are suffering under the budget crisis and what the Legislature has to do about the budget crisis. We don’t hear much about what the courts are going through.
Well, the courts have the same problems that the executive and legislative branches are. What we do is we try and go through all our budget accounts and maybe hold back in hiring people that maybe we could use … to speed up getting cases out, things like that. So we cut back there. We do other types of cutbacks, but mostly in the personnel area just simply … to be able to absorb the budget cuts that have affected us, just like the other branches of government.
Running for office isn’t easy for anybody these days. It’s very meanspirited. And judicial races are a lot more hardball than they used to be. Is it worth it?
Oh, I think it is. I mean, the voters in Nevada [have decided] that they want to have open elections as opposed to appointing judges, so we have them. We’ve worked out certain rules to try and make them a little bit more user friendly for the public. For example, probably two-thirds of judges that run for reelection don’t have opponents, so we have a prohibition in the judicial canons of ethics [against] those judicial candidates raising money. So it takes maybe two-thirds of the judicial candidates out of the whole fund-raising system, and they’re not involved in actual campaigns. For those who are running [against opponents], if you are criticized or attacked, you have to be able to respond to that, and rules are written in such a way to give judicial candidates and judges the ability to do that.