The appellate process is not a quick one, and I am frequently asked how a participant may speed up the process. Unfortunately, the fact that an appeal might be inconvenient for the parties is not going to be enough to force the Nevada Supreme Court to speed up the process. Considering that there are on average 3,500 new appeals filed every year, I suspect the Nevada Supreme Court’s response to a request to speed an appeal along for purely convenience purposes is going to be a firm “No.”
That being said, there are certain instances in which an appeal can be expedited.
Under NRAP 2, a party may file a motion with the Nevada Supreme Court asking it to suspend its rules in order to “expedite its decision.” However, the party requesting this relief must show good cause. Id.
Generally speaking, if there is a statute that provides for an expedited trial date or appellate process, then there is “good cause.” For example, NRS 177.015 provides for an expedited interlocutory appellate process to appeal trial court orders on motions to suppress evidence in criminal trials. The Nevada Supreme Court has found that this statute, coupled with a criminal defendant’s constitutional right to speedy trial, is good cause warranting an expedited appeal. State v. Robles-Nieves, 129 Nev. 537, 547, 306 P.3d 399, 406 (2013).
In civil cases, trials are expedited for elderly parties over the age of 70, or parties who are severely ill and raise medical doubt that they will survive for six months. NRS 16.025(1)-(2). Although this statute does not apply to appeals, the Nevada Supreme Court has expedited appeals for those who fall within the protection of NRS 16.025. In McKay v. Bergstedt, 106 Nev. 808, 801 P.2d 617 (1990), the Nevada Supreme Court expedited an appeal raising the question of a quadriplegic’s right-to-die because both the quadriplegic and his caretaker father were in poor health. Id. at 811 n.1, 801 P.2d at 619 n.1. Unfortunately, neither survived the duration of the expedited appeal. Id.
The Nevada Supreme Court has also found good cause where the pendency of the appeal causes harm to the general public. In Board of County Commissioners of Clark County v. Las Vegas Discovery Golf & Tennis, Inc., 110 Nev. 567, 875 P.2d 1045 (1994), the Nevada Supreme Court expedited an appeal because of the economic hardship presented by the appeal to both the parties and to the public. Id. at 569, 875 P.2d at 1046. The economic harm demonstrated in that case concerned substantial carrying costs to Clark County and a loss in additional revenue to McCarran Airport caused by a delay in the underlying project that was the subject of the appeal. Id. at n.3. Because these costs directly impacted public funds, the Nevada Supreme Court expedited the appeal. Id.
WHAT HAPPENS ABSENT GOOD CAUSE?
What if you have a “cause,” but it’s not necessarily a good one? You can still speed up your appeal in the following ways.
First, if eligible, participate in the settlement program in good faith. This may resolve your appeal within a few months.
Second, do not seek extensions of time. Promptly obtain the transcripts and documents you need for your appendix. Organize your calendar and dedicate time needed to write the brief. If you are ordered to oral argument, try to appear on the set date and time by moving other calendar conflicts.
Finally, consider using the help of appellate professionals if your calendar is too busy to handle the appeal within the Nevada Supreme Court’s timelines. As an appellate attorney, one of the services I provide to other lawyers is brief drafting and editing. Appellate attorneys will also help you prepare for oral argument, or assist in the filing of appellate forms.
While you cannot control what happens on the Nevada Supreme Court’s end, you can control what happens on your end. The sooner you submit your appeal for consideration, the sooner it will be resolved.