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Reno council names four finalists for municipal court judge

By Carla O'Day
Published: Last Updated on

Finalists to fill a vacant municipal court seat were named Wednesday by the Reno City Council, which will interview its top four candidates later this month.

The city initially had 14 applicants for the vacant Reno Municipal Court seat, but two withdrew their names and one was disqualified, bringing the applicant pool to 11. Council members then narrowed the list to four:

  • Christopher Hazlett-Stevens, deputy attorney in the Criminal Division for the Reno City Attorney’s Office, who prosecutes misdemeanor criminal cases in Reno Municipal Court
  • Steven Silva, a partner with Blanchard Krasner & French who focuses on
    eminent domain litigation, civil appellate practice, water law, and government land matters
  • Henry Sotelo, a criminal defense and civil litigation attorney who has his own firm; he also has a contract with Reno Municipal Court as a legal defender
  • Charles Woodman, an attorney who has his own firm and focuses on wills, trusts and probate; he has also been a judicial court master for Churchill, Douglas and Lyon counties

Interviews are tentatively scheduled for a special meeting Jan. 14 and the top candidate is expected to assume office sometime in January.

Mayor Hillary Schieve and council members said they preferred to conduct interviews outside of a regular council meeting.

“I do think having a special, stand-alone meeting makes it better for everyone, the participants and for our community,” Councilman Devon Reese said. “We can often get lost in the minutia of a business meeting-like environment.”

Judge Tammy Riggs of Reno Municipal Court’s Department 4 resigned her seat effective Oct. 1. The seat is currently being overseen by a Pro tempore. Silva, Sotelo and Woodman have previously served as Pro tempore.

Riggs was elected to a 6-year term in 2016 and ran unopposed in the Nov. 3 general election for the District Court Department 3 seat to replace Judge Jerome Polaha, who is retiring after 21 years on the bench.

The appointee will serve until the next general municipal election, which is in 2022. He must then run for a 6-year term if he wishes to retain the seat.

Municipal court handles misdemeanors, code violations, and supervised rehabilitation for those needing treatment, among other things.

CORRECTION: This article originally reported the special meeting as being held Dec. 14. It is actually Jan. 14, 2021.

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