By Tyson Hafen
From March 13, 2020 through March 30, 2020, Nevada’s Eighth Judicial District Court (Clark County) and the U.S. District Court of Nevada have issued 16 emergency administrative orders in response to, and in order to combat the spread of, COVID-19. The stated purpose of the orders is to continue legal proceedings to the degree possible while balancing the health and safety of attorneys, litigants, court staff, and the public.
These emergency orders follow Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s March 12, 2020 declaration of a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In sum, the courts’ emergency orders, which are already in effect, make the following procedural changes in Nevada courts:
Eighth Judicial District Court (Clark County)
- Stay of Cases. A complete stay of any civil case will be considered on a case-by-case basis. A stay of any case should be liberally granted based on any COVID-19 related issues.
- Jury Trials Suspended. All jury trials, civil and criminal, are suspended through at least April 17, 2020, and will be rescheduled as the court calendar allows.
- Bench Trials. Bench trials may be conducted by alternate means or rescheduled, and judges are to liberally grant continuances for trial-related preparation.
- No In-Person Hearings. All non-essential hearings are to be conducted by video or telephonic means, decided on the papers, or rescheduled.
- Service of Process. Considering the potential health risks of in-person service of process and the fact that many businesses are closed, properly documented service issues related to COVID-19 will be considered good cause for motions to extend service of process.
- Subpoenas. Attorneys must obtain advance approval from the Discovery Commissioner before issuing a subpoena under NRCP 45 (i.e., commanding a person to appear and give testimony at a trial, hearing, or deposition, or to produce and permit inspection of documents).
- Early Case Conferences. NRCP16.1 early case conferences are not to be conducted in-person and shall be rescheduled if they cannot be accomplished by alternate means.
- Discovery Deadlines Stayed. All deadlines pursuant to NRCP 16.1 for initial disclosures, disclosure of expert witnesses and testimony, supplementation of discovery, pre-trial disclosures, and filing of joint and/or individual case conference reports, along with all pending unexpired written discovery deadlines pursuant to NRCP 31, 33, 34, and 36, shall be stayed for 30 days (from March 25, 2020).
- No In-Person Depositions. No NRCP 30 depositions scheduled to be conducted within 30 days (from March 25, 2020) may be conducted in-person, although depositions can be conducted by telephone or videoconference. Additionally, the requirement for a deponent to appear before an officer designated by NRCP 28 to administer oaths and take testimony may be adjusted for social distancing requirements, or waived, upon agreement of the parties and deponent.
- Motions. Courts may deny a motion at any time and may grant a motion after an opposition has been filed or 21 days after service of the motion if no opposition was filed.
- Settlement Conferences Vacated. All District Court Judicial Settlement Conferences are vacated and are to be rescheduled to take place after June 1, 2020.
- Response Time for Offers of Judgment Suspended. The time to respond to any offers of judgment submitted on or after March 13, 2020 pursuant to NRCP 68 is suspended until 10 days after order is lifted.
- Writs of Execution and Writs of Garnishment Stayed. All issued writs of execution and writs of garnishment are stayed until after order is lifted.
- Original Signature Requirements Suspended. With the exception of documents requiring the signature of a notary, all requirements for original signatures are suspended.
- No Paper Documents. No paper documents will be accepted by the court. All filings must be completed through the court’s electronic filing system or through mail. Proposed orders must be emailed to the applicable departments. No courtesy copies of any kind shall be sent to the court.
U.S. District Court, District of Nevada
- All Civil and Criminal Trials Continued. All civil and criminal trials, including any associated deadlines, are continued until April 10, 2020, pending further order of the court.
- In-Person Court Appearances. The court is striving to eliminate in-person court appearances. In the event a hearing must go forward, the court will attempt to conduct the hearing by video conference or telephone (with the defendant’s consent in criminal cases pursuant to the March 27, 2020 CARES Act), and the courtroom will be physically closed. Members of the public may call in to listen to scheduled hearings telephonically.
- Clerk’s Office Closed to Public. Attorneys and pro se parties may file documents with the court via the electronic filing systems and via mail. Delivery of paper documents must be deposited in drop boxes located in the lobbies of Nevada’s federal courthouses.
The emergency rules summarized above will remain in effect until modified or rescinded by a subsequent order (unless otherwise noted above).