Peter I Breen


UNR Oral History Program

Peter I. Breen was born in Reno, Nevada on November 8, 1939. Both his father, Peter, and grandfather, Peter, were district judges in the 3rd and 5th districts respectively, for a total of 32 years. Breen was raised in Goldfield and Tonopah, Nevada, where he graduated from high school in 1956. He then graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1960. He completed the University of Santa Clara Law School in 1963 and passed the bar in that year. Breen served in the Attorney General's office and practiced law in Carson City and Reno, Nevada until late 1973 when he was appointed to the Second Judicial District Court by then-Governor Mike O'Callaghan. He served in Department 7 of that district until February of 2006, having been elected 6 times to the post without opposition, and has served as a Senior District Judge since his retirement.

In July of 1995, the Second Judicial District Court established a felony adult drug court over which Breen presided. The drug court movement was instituted in Dade County, Florida in 1989 and has been described as the most significant innovation of the American Judiciary in the last 75 years. Starting in July of 1995 with four people, the movement in the Second Judicial District has grown to include drug court, diversion court, mental health court, felony DUI court, veterans' court, and prison reentry court. The minimum supervision requirements of the Court vary from one to three years.

By requiring frequent court appearances and an extensive program of recovery, most offenders successfully complete program. Furthermore, they avoid further contact with the criminal justice system, obtain employment, and lead successful lives. Thousands of Nevada citizens, usually between the ages of 18 and 45, have avoided prison and have successfully dealt with these devastating issues.

Today, Judge Breen is part of a program called Specialty Courts, which brings this success to seven district courts in northwest Nevada and at any one time has between 1200 and 1500 clients seeking recovery from the ravages of addiction and mental illness.

Judge Breen is married to his wife, Kathy, and has four children, Peter, Elaina, Jennifer and Michelle.

Second Judicial District Court
75 Court St.
Reno, Nevada, 89501