A quarrel over policy between Nye County commissioners and judges with the Fifth Judicial District Court has now led to a unanimous vote by the board to move the district courts and relocate them to their own dedicated buildings.
The decision stems from an order from the Fifth Judicial District Court, signed by Judge Robert Lane in 2010, that states no weapons are allowed in any courthouse facility.
When Bruce Jabbour joined the commission in 2021, he was informed of the order and told that he would not be allowed to carry his personal firearm when using his office in the William P. Beko Justice Complex in Tonopah, which houses not only the district court but also several county departments, including the commissioners’ offices.
The same policy applied at the Ian Deutch Government Complex in Pahrump, where the district court shares space with the Nye County District Attorney, Nye County Clerk and Pahrump Justice Court.
Jabbour took issue with the restriction and tried to seek a resolution, eventually sponsoring an agenda item in late 2021 to discuss it. At that time, commissioners voted to have the “no weapons” order limited to court spaces only, arguing that as the county was the owner of the buildings in question, the commission had the authority to set its own rules for areas not utilized by the district court or its staff. The commissioners also voted to have any signage regarding banned weapons removed from the main entrances and relegated to only doors leading to areas used by the district court.
Fifth Judicial District Court Judge Kim Wanker made it clear that she was none-to-happy about that decision, and she and her fellow district court judge, Lane, along with Pahrump Justice of the Peace Kent Jasperson, went to Las Vegas media expressing their deep concerns about safety and security in the complexes. Since that time, the signage has apparently remained on the main doors and Jabbour, frustrated by the fact, brought back the idea of relocating the district courts as a permanent solution to the problem.
That item was before the board on Tuesday, May 17, at which Jabbour said judges had disrespected the commission by ignoring its action. When he consulted the Nye County District Attorney’s Office, he was reportedly told he would be in contempt of the court order if he were to remove the “no weapons” signs himself.
Commissioner Donna Cox demanded to know why the county wasn’t simply enforcing its action.
In response, commission chair Frank Carbone said that would likely lead to a lawsuit. If the matter were to be taken before the Nevada Supreme Court, Carbone noted that he believed the Supreme Court would side with the district court.
Commissioner Debra Strickland said that moving the district courts presents a great opportunity. The county is in need of additional space to house its growing staff, she said, and the vacated areas inside the government complexes could provide that space.
After a round of discussion and public comment, Jabbour moved to relocate the Fifth Judicial District Court’s Tonopah operations to the former fitness center in Tonopah, located at 1118 Globe Mallow Lane, effective immediately.
He also motioned to move the district court’s Pahrump operations to the current public works and planning building, located at 250 N. Highway 160, as soon as that building is vacated by the county departments and is ready for occupation by the courts.
The motion included direction to remove the “no weapons” signage from the county complexes.
“Such notices are welcome to be placed on the courtroom doors…” Jabbour said.
That motion passed unanimously.
Neither of the district court judges were at the meeting Tuesday morning. The Pahrump Valley Times reached out to each department of the district court to request comment but none was received as of press deadline.
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at email@example.com