Panel Questions Plan To Change How Nevadans Pick Judges

A leading state lawmaker is pressing for support of a plan to change the way Nevadans pick judges -- but is facing numerous questions from the co-chair of a panel reviewing the state's court system.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio told the panel he favors a proposed constitutional amendment to allow appointments of District Court judges and Supreme Court justices. Currently in Nevada, judges and justices run in open elections.

Raggio said voters would still determine whether a judge should be retained - and such races would require far less campaign contributions.

He said the current system requires "staggering" sums of campaign cash and fuels a perception that judges aren't impartial and favor their contributors.

But commission co-chair Paula Gentile (gen-TILL'-ee) questioned whether it might be better to impose higher qualifications for judicial candidates.

She added that the retention elections that would replace the current system would still force judges to collect "substantial" contributions.