Nancy Porter, District Judge for Department 1, announced today that she will be filing for re-election. Judge Porter was appointed to the bench in December 2011 by then-Governor Brian Sandoval. She was elected to the post in 2012 and again in 2014.
Judge Porter’s previous work experience includes running her own law practice for 18 ½ years, working as an associate attorney for the longtime Elko law firm of Puccinelli and Puccinelli, and serving as an Oregon Assistant Attorney General. That background proved to be invaluable when she took the bench.
“There is no substitute for experience,” said Porter, an Elko native and first woman to serve as district judge in Elko County history. Judge Porter has nearly eight years of experience as a district court judge and has been an attorney for 32 years, licensed in both Nevada and Oregon.
Paul Gardner, owner of Elko Broadcasting, said, “Judge Porter has lived in Elko for nearly all of her life. She understands the needs of our area better than anyone. She is not afraid to tell it like it is and is strong enough to sentence those that break the law. Judge Porter has the experience Elko County needs.”
As a district judge, she presides over approximately 30 hearings each week.
In 2017, the Nevada Supreme Court recognized Judge Porter for her extensive judicial education. That same year, Judge Porter served on the Nevada Supreme Court in a death-penalty appeal after an appointment by Governor Sandoval, who is a former federal judge. After extensive preparation, she met with the justices to deliberate. Judge Porter and the justices voted unanimously to uphold the conviction.
In November 2019, Porter became the first Elko County resident to be honored by Nevada Legal Services with its Champion of Justice award. The award recognizes those who significantly support the cause of access to justice for all Nevadans. At the awards ceremony, attorney Julie Cavanaugh-Bill told the Elko Daily Free Press, “I think she’s an excellent judge.”
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Cavanaugh-Bill went on to state, “Porter takes the time to assess the situation and provide advice from the bench.”
Judge Porter strives each day to ensure the fair, impartial, and independent administration of justice, treating everyone involved in the legal process with respect, dignity, and fairness. She is also a community leader, working tirelessly outside the courtroom to bring together community members to help children and the elderly and to make the justice system work better for everyone. For example:
- Since 2014, Judge Porter has led the highly successful celebration of National Adoption Day in Elko County with the help of a dedicated committee of hard-working Elko County residents.
- Judge Porter brought together another group of residents to create a nonprofit organization called Northeastern Nevada SAFE (Special Advocates For the Elderly). SAFE volunteers visit elderly people who have guardians. They are the eyes and ears of the court and help ensure that those elderly adults receive proper care and are protected from financial exploitation.
- Judge Porter served on the Nevada Commission to Study the Creation and Administration of Guardianships after being appointed by Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty. While on the commission, Judge Porter, along with two other district court judges, rewrote guardianship laws that apply to children.
- Judge Porter also serves on the Guardianship Rules Subcommittee, drafting court rules to supplement Nevada statutes. Justice Hardesty recently asked Judge Porter to help craft future changes to Nevada’s guardianship laws.
- Judge Porter has worked for about four years with a statewide committee of judges and attorneys to write criminal pattern jury instructions. This is a huge project, and the instructions will be published for use by all Nevada judges and attorneys for criminal jury trials.
- With the help of concerned local residents, Judge Porter organized a nonprofit corporation called the Center for Healthy Families. Judge Porter serves as president of the organization in pursuit of its mission to buy or lease a large commercial building where families can access crucial services in one location, such as therapy, substance abuse treatment and drug testing, supervised visitation of children, and safe visitation exchanges of children.
Judge Porter has devoted much of her career to serving as an advocate for children. As an Elko attorney, she represented many children who were in foster care. Since she became a district judge, Judge Porter has served on the statewide Court Improvement Program, after being appointed by then-Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Saitta. Judge Porter also led the local Community Improvement Council. Those organizations advocate for the right of children to be protected from abuse and neglect.
Judge Porter has worked countless hours to improve the courts and the legal system, applying her years of experience in training judges, attorneys, and other people who work in the court system, both statewide and locally. At the same time, Judge Porter works hard to stay within her budget and has obtained three technology grants to upgrade technology in the Department 1 courtroom and in the jail courtroom, saving the local taxpayers almost $40,000.
Judge Porter also presides over the DUI Diversion Court, a three-year treatment program for felony DUI offenders, at no extra cost to the public. Recently, Judge Porter and Department 2 District Judge Alvin R. Kacin worked for several months to rewrite Elko County’s outdated local court rules.
Recognizing the need for Elko County’s court system to expand to meet the needs of a growing population, Judge Porter and Judge Kacin have worked closely with Justice Hardesty for the past two years to create a third district judge position. Both judges testified before the Nevada Legislature on the issue and spoke at several meetings of the Elko County Commission, successfully enlisting their support. The third judge will start in January 2021.
Judge Porter welcomes the addition of the third judge, stating, “I look forward to continuing to provide justice to Elko County residents. With the addition of a third judge, I will be able to do so more quickly. I have several projects on which I’m working, including restoration of the original courtroom, that I am anxious to complete. I greatly appreciate the trust that my fellow citizens have placed in me for the last eight years. It is an honor and a privilege to be a district court judge in our great community.”