State and local dignitaries paid tribute Friday to former Washoe District Judge Mills Lane as the community turned out for the grand opening of a new downtown court complex named in his honor.
Lane, a former international boxing referee, district attorney
and television judge, was sidelined by a stroke four years ago.
The Mills B. Lane Justice Center includes a new, 168,000
square-foot tower that houses district attorney offices and Reno
Municipal Court. Another tower built previously contains family and
Friends and family say naming the center after Lane is a fitting
tribute to a man known for his no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is
"As a man of justice, having a building where justice will be
dealt named after him means the world to my dad," Lane's
19-year-old son, Tommy, told the Reno Gazette-Journal on Thursday.
Kaye Lane said her husband of 26 years always felt the courts
belonged to the people, and he had no tolerance for judges who let
the power of the bench go to their heads.
"He called it 'black-robe fever,"' she said. "But Mills was
never a snob. We'd go to dinners and I'd find him in a corner
talking to the waiters or a bartender.
"When he had this stroke and we began getting all these cards,
I realized how many people's lives he had touched."
Lane was home alone March 31, 2002 when he suffered a stroke
that affected his speech and right side of his body.
Now 68, Lane can barely talk and walks with a limp. It's a hard
road for a man once known for his athleticism, quick wit and
distinctive high-pitched twang.
"I still can't begin to comprehend what he's going through,"
said Terry, the Lanes' 23-year-old son. "I think he's embarrassed
being around people because he's unable to speak well."
Senior District Judge Peter Breen used to watch Lane box as a
welterweight for the University of Nevada when they were students.
"He boxed the way he lived his life, taking the straightest
distance between two points," Breen said. "In the ring, he'd take
a boxing stance, glare at the other guy and then come straight at
him. He was a simple man and very plain spoken."
Lane gained international fame for refereeing world championship
boxing matches, including the infamous 1997 bout when Mike Tyson
bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear. He also starred in the
"Judge Mills Lane Show" televised nationally from 1998 to 2001.