Department 3 - Honorable Jerome Polaha


Judge Polaha was born in Pennsylvania and attended Syracuse University for Russian language studies while in the U.S. Air Force. He graduated in the summer of 1964 from the University of Nevada, a member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society, and left Nevada to study law in Washington, D.C. at George Washington University's National Law Center. He graduated in February 1968 and returned to Nevada where he passed the state bar exam that summer.

After working as an associate for the firm of Breen and Young in Reno, he was one of the first three lawyers who began the Washoe County Public Defender's Office in July, 1969. After leaving that post in 1972, he remained in private practice throughout his thirty year career as a lawyer mostly as a sole practitioner but also as a partner in several firms.

Judge Polaha, as a result of his practice of law, was listed in the original edition of Who's Who in American Law, Who's Who in the West, and was in the criminal law section of The Best Lawyers in America since 1987. He was a member of the NTLA, ATLA, CTLA, CACJ, NACDL and was a Fellow in the American Board of Criminal Lawyers. He lectured for the county, local and national as well as the state bar association in various seminars on criminal defense and trial techniques throughout his career and taught criminal law at Old College School of Law and is on the faculty at the National Judicial College since becoming a judge. He is also a Master in the Bruce R. Thompson Inn of the American Inns of Court. He is currently a commissioner on the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission.

Judge Polaha is married to Esther Eben and has four adult sons. He is involved in volunteer community activities and has served on various boards and church organizations throughout the community. He served on the Board of Governors of NTLA, The American Board of Criminal Lawyers, Old College, Leadership College, Restart, and is currently on the board of Animal Ark, a not for profit organization that assists injured ad abandoned wild animals.

Judge Polaha was appointed to the bench by Governor Kenny Guinn in March 1999, and was retained ever since.