James Hardesty
Senior Justice James Hardesty, ’75

Senior Justice James W. Hardesty graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting in 1970. While an undergraduate student, Hardesty was elected President of the student body and named outstanding senior graduate. Hardesty graduated from McGeorge School of Law in 1975 and immediately returned to the Reno/Sparks area to enter private practice. He remained in private practice from 1975 to 1998. He received the highest rating of AV by Martindale-Hubbell, a nationally recognized publication of lawyer ratings. Hardesty was born and raised in Reno, Nevada. He has been married for 52 years to his wife, Sandy, and together they have two children and five grandchildren. 

In November 1998, Hardesty was elected District Court Judge for the Second Judicial District of Washoe County, Reno, Nevada. In November 2001, he was elected by his fellow judges to serve as Chief Judge of the Second Judicial District Court, a position to which he was re-elected in November 2003. Hardesty also served as President of the Nevada District Judges Association in 2003. 

In November 2004, Hardesty was elected to the Nevada Supreme Court and was re-elected to the Court without opposition in 2010 and 2016. He served as Chief Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court in 2009, 2015, 2021, and 2022, retiring in January 2023. In 2014, he led the Nevada Supreme Court’s educational effort to amend the Nevada Constitution to create a Court of Appeals, which the voters approved in the November election. Nevada’s Court of Appeals commenced on January 5, 2015. Hardesty has been a guest lecturer on case management, settlement, and evidence for the National Judicial College.  

As a District Court Judge and as a Nevada Supreme Court Justice, he has served on numerous Supreme Court Commissions including: the Nevada Supreme Court Task Force to create a Business Court in Nevada; the Nevada Supreme Court Task Force studying the Multi-Jurisdictional Practice of Law; the Nevada Supreme Court Commission on Judicial Funding; the Nevada Supreme Court Committee to Implement Recommendations of the Jury Improvement Commission; the Commission on Statewide Juvenile Justice Reform; and the Nevada Supreme Court Bench-Bar Committee. Hardesty chaired or co-chaired the Nevada Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission; the Nevada Supreme Court Permanent Guardianship Commission; the Committee to Study Evidence-Based Pretrial Release; the Commission on Statewide Rules of Criminal Procedure; the Commission on Preservation, Access, and Sealing of Court Records; the Commission to Study the Adjudication of Water Law Cases; and the Commission to Study Best Practices for Virtual Advocacy in Nevada’s Courts. He has also chaired the Nevada Legislature’s Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice; and is the chair of the Nevada Sentencing Commission. Hardesty is a past member of the Nevada State-Federal Judicial Council, serving as chairman from 2009 to 2011 and again from 2014 to 2016. 

Throughout 2024, the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law will celebrate members of its vast alumni network in honor of the school’s 100-year anniversary. This post is part of a series highlighting 100 exceptional McGeorge School of Law alumni.  

Stay tuned for more blog posts as we celebrate the law school’s centennial anniversary.