The announced early retirement of Judge Edwin Poyfair likely brings forth the unfortunate process that has become the standard for Superior Court judge replacement in Clark County. Time after time, a judge here announces early retirement; the governor is then called upon to make a temporary appointment to fill the uncompleted term. What’s next? A quick summary: Interested lawyers identify themselves; the local bar association names a preferred candidate; court activists, mostly lawyers, lobby the governor, who, after interviewing the prospects and considering related input, makes the temporary appointment; the appointed one is sworn in, becoming the “incumbent” judge.
The incumbent status is critical because when election filing time comes for the permanent judge position, the temporary appointed judge is the only one to file, as all of the earlier prospects defer. You see, practicing lawyers do not challenge/run against incumbent judges. It’s an understanding, an inside deal, done out of, who knows, respect, fear, intimidation? The temporary appointed judge is then left with an uncontested election, no campaign to run, no public appearances required.
Judge replacement using this early retirement ploy is wrong. The public is totally left out, never seeing or hearing from qualified judge prospects or having an election opportunity to choose among them.