For Sil­ver, seat a cul­mi­na­tion of long ca­reer

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - FROM THE COVER - By Rachel Crosby Con­tact Rachel Crosby at [email protected]­viewjour­ or 702477-3801. Fol­low @rachelacrosby on Twit­ter.

FOR Jus­tice Abbi Sil­ver, the op­por­tu­nity to serve on Ne­vada’s Supreme Court just made sense. After nearly 14 years of earn­ing her rep­u­ta­tion as a dogged Clark County pros­e­cu­tor, she had served at every other level of the state’s ju­di­cial sys­tem.

First was her suc­cess­ful bid in 2003 for a seat in Las Ve­gas Mu­nic­i­pal Court, fol­low­ing a failed bid to re­place an out­go­ing Clark County district at­tor­ney — her first elec­tion ex­pe­ri­ence and her only loss. In 2006, she was elected to the Las Ve­gas Jus­tice Court. Two years later, she won a seat on the Clark County District Court, win­ning it again in 2014.

Then came the piv­otal phone call from then-Gov. Brian San­doval in De­cem­ber of that year, no­ti­fy­ing Sil­ver that he would like to ap­point her to the state’s in­au­gu­ral ap­pel­late court.

Sil­ver, 54, con­sid­ers that ap­point­ment one of the great­est honors of her life. She was elected to the seat in 2016, after which San­doval swore her in as chief judge.

So when two seats opened on the state’s high­est court soon after, she took it as a sign that “now’s the time.”

“I mean, there is lit­er­ally no other step for me to take but this,” Sil­ver told the Las Ve­gas Review-Jour­nal in De­cem­ber, sit­ting in her old ap­pel­late court of­fice, a thick stack of case files sit­ting in front of her. “So I took it, and I filed.”

She ran un­op­posed. But that doesn’t mean se­cur­ing her seat was a breeze.

Sil­ver vividly re­mem­bers the over­whelm­ing anx­i­ety she felt on Jan. 12, 2018, the last day ju­di­cial hope­fuls could file for can­di­dacy.

As the clock ticked closer to the 5 p.m. dead­line, she sat in a cor­ner of her home, hold­ing her dog, shak­ing in the dark. She didn’t want to go through the stress of an­other elec­tion. But she wanted this seat — the ultimate ca­reer achieve­ment — more than any­thing.

“I was just a mess,” she said. But when the dead­line came and went, she took a call from Jus­tice James Hardesty, who wel­comed her to the Supreme Court of Ne­vada.

“I mean, I cried,” Sil­ver said. “The only other time that’s hap­pened is when a doc­tor told me I was preg­nant. I was happy. Cry­ing happy.”

Though Sil­ver was stressed, those fa­mil­iar with her work sup­posed no one chal­lenged her be­cause no one thought they could beat her.

“Can­didly, I wasn’t sur­prised that she was run­ning un­op­posed,” District Judge Va­lerie Adair said.

Adair worked along­side Sil­ver at the Clark County district at­tor­ney’s of­fice. And as district judges, their court­rooms were on the same floor.

“I think she’s worked hard for this for a long time,” Adair said. “She’s been in the trenches, and I think she’ll do a great job.”

For­mer District At­tor­ney Ste­wart Bell, who took of­fice in the mid­dle of Sil­ver’s pros­e­cu­to­rial ca­reer, de­scribed her as “ded­i­cated, ag­gres­sive and suc­cess­ful.”

“I think the fact that she was un­op­posed in the last elec­tion shows that lawyers thought that she did a good job and was qual­i­fied for the po­si­tion,” Bell said.

Sil­ver said be­ing part of the high court’s first fe­male ma­jor­ity weighs heav­ily on her. The Boul­der City na­tive re­called the first time she ar­gued be­fore the court as a young wo­man in 1990, when all the jus­tices were older men — a “daunt­ing” ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I think the fact that any at­tor­ney can look at me, es­pe­cially the fe­males out there, and know that it’s at­tain­able — to see a face that looks like their face — it’s im­por­tant,” Sil­ver said. “It’s im­por­tant to have di­ver­sity on the bench that re­flects the di­ver­sity that’s in the le­gal pro­fes­sion, which I think we’ve at­tained as fe­males now, fi­nally. Be­cause I’ve been do­ing it 30 years, and it fi­nally seems like it’s start­ing to be­come more equal. Or equal.”

To any young wo­man or man out there, she said, “I would say to hon­estly fol­low ex­actly what you want to do, be­cause you can at­tain it.”

“The big­gest thing is not to lis­ten to any­body who tells you that you can’t,” she said.

Can­didly, I wasn’t sur­prised that she was run­ning un­op­posed. … She’s worked hard for this for a long time. She’s been in the trenches, and I think she’ll do a great job.’ Va­lerie Adair Clark County district judge

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