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District court “no weapons” order restricted to court spaces only, potential move tabled for future discussion

The Nye County Commission addressed two controversial items regarding the Fifth Judicial District Court this month — an order issued by the court that restricts weapons in any courthouse facility and another pertaining to a proposal to move the district court from its current locations in Pahrump and Tonopah.

Nye County Commissioner Bruce Jabbour is at odds with court officials as to whether he’s permitted to carry his personal firearm in his commission office in Tonopah.

His office is located in the Fifth Judicial District Court building and when he took office, Jabbour said he was informed of the court order that bans weapons in the courthouse.

He applied for a waiver to allow him to carry his gun, but it was ultimately denied.

As Jabbour saw it, the court order only applies to those spaces within the Nye County government complexes that are used solely by the Fifth Judicial District Court and its staff.

In Pahrump, the Nye County government complex includes the Fifth Judicial District Court, Pahrump Justice Court, Nye County Clerk’s Office and the Nye County District Attorney’s Office.

The Tonopah complex houses these departments in addition to several others.

Jabbour argued these other departments aren’t subject to the court order.

People should be permitted to carry firearms inside the government complexes, he said, so long as they aren’t entering areas used by the district court.

Nye County Commissioner Frank Carbone agreed, and said there’s some confusion created by the language outlinging the government complexes.

The buildings are not “courthouses,” he said. They are government complexes that simply house the district court. Carbone conceded that guns should not be allowed within the courtrooms, but said the remainder of the complexes are under Nye County’s control — not the court’s.

A Nye County resolution states all people are permitted to open-carry in any county government building.

Commissioner Donna Cox said she believes the court order only extends to court area.

Former commissioner John Koenig suggested that the county move the sign detailing the “no weapons” order off of the front entrances to the Nye County government complexes in Pahrump and Tonopah and place them on the doors leading to the Fifth Judicial District Court’s space.

Jabbour moved to reiterate that the Ian Deutch Government Complex in Pahrump and the William P. Beko Justice Complex in Tonopah are owned by Nye County and the Nye County Commission has the power and jurisdiction to control and manage those properties.

His motion included recognition that the district court has the right to impose security measures for its courtrooms and other spaces utilized by its staff. It passed with all in favor.

Relocating the court

The commission then moved into the second item related to the Fifth Judicial District Court, that of potentially moving the district court operations to new locations.

Fifth Judicial District Court Judge Kim Wanker said the item was a form of retaliation against the district court, stemming from the contention over the firearms issue.

However, Jabbour, who sponsored the item, said it was only meant as a possible solution to the county’s current problem regarding inadequate space for its staff.

He’s toured the county’s buildings and detailed a proposal for shuffling the county’s departments, which would require moving the district court.

But Wanker said the Fifth Judicial District Court cannot be moved to a location separate from the justice courts and the Nye County Clerk’s office, which acts as clerk of the district court. Daily interactions between the district court, justice court and clerkwould be disrupted by a move, she said.

Wanker said she was insulted by the item and she would have appreciated it if the county had discussed it with her before bringing it to a commission meeting.

Nye County Commission Chair Debra Strickland said the county was eyeing a process that would hopefully guide the county as it looks to provide adequate space for its staff.

Nye County Assistant Manager Lorina Dellinger said she has worked with the county’s facilities director who is developing a scope for a facilities master plan.

Once complete, the county will review bids from companies interested in assessing the county’s many buildings and helping to determine how to be use them.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com.

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