Justices of the Peace
Chief Justice of the Peace Kevin Higgins
Chief Judge Kevin Higgins was appointed to the Sparks Justice Court on April 15, 2003, and was retained in 2004, 2010 and 2016.
Judge Higgins came to the bench from the Nevada Attorney General’s Office after 16 years as a prosecutor. At the time of his appointment, he was the Chief Deputy Attorney General for the Reno Office. During his tenure at the AG's Office, he prosecuted everything from DUI's to death penalty cases and appeared in almost every district court in Nevada, the Nevada Supreme Court, the United States District Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.
Since his appointment to the bench, Judge Higgins has joined the Nevada Judges of Limited Jurisdiction, the American Judges Association, and the American Judicature Society. He has attended serveral classes at the National Judicial College, earning his Certificate of Judicial Development in Special Court Trial Skills. He is the past president of the Nevada Judges of Limited Jurisdiction and was honored as Judge of the Year in 2011. Judge Higgins frequently teaches at judicial education conferences. For over 20 years, he has presented a review of the Nevada Supreme Court criminal cases at the annual meetings of the Nevada District Court Judges Association.
Judge Higgins sits on the national scholarship selection panel for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. In 2001 he was presented the Joseph Stevens Award as the outstanding attorney in public service in the United States in a ceremony at the United States Supreme Court.
Judge Higgins graduated from Reed High School in 1978 and Willamette University in 1982 when he was awarded the 'Senior Key,' presented to the 10 seniors who had contributed the most to the University. In 1985 he graduated from Georgetown University Law Center with his Juris Doctorate.
Judge Higgins is active in the community, a Boy Scout leader, and a founding member of the Sparks Centennial Sunrise Rotary Club. His wife, Tammy, is a nationally recognized first grade teacher. They are the parents of three high school students.
Justice of the Peace Jessica Longley
Justice of the Peace Chris Wilson
Judge Chris Wilson was appointed to the bench in Sparks Justice Court, Department 1, by the unanimous vote of the Washoe County Board of Commissioners on February 24, 2014. Judge Wilson was thereafter retained/elected by the citizens of Sparks Township in the November 2014 general election, and again for a second term in the November 2018 general election.
Judge Wilson not only currently handles all of the regular judicial duties of a sitting Judge in Sparks Justice Court including presiding over civil and criminal bench trials, as well as civil and criminal jury trials; but also in 2016, Judge Wilson founded and presided over Sparks Recovery Court. Sparks Recovery Court helps non-violent substance addicted defendants address their substance abuse and mental health issues while finding safe housing and stable employment. The court’s goal is total rehabilitation: complete and continued cessation of narcotics use, full-time gainful employment, clean and safe housing for children and dependents, and the ability to maintain themselves and their families without any form of government assistance. Equally as important, Judge Wilson has also created special dockets to assist youthful defendants in our community, especially those addicted to Methamphetamine and Heroin.
Since taking the bench in 2014, Judge Wilson has instituted many improvements to Sparks Justice Court to better serve our community. This includes implementing a risk-based decision-making matrix to ensure more informed bail determinations which puts community safety first; expanding the operating hours of our court to times when the public can more easily take time off to handle court matters; as well as offering electronic filing of court documents; and implementing a traffic amnesty program so citizens with warrants for traffic tickets can come to court at any time and resolve them without being arrested. During this same time, Judge Wilson also worked with the County Commission to cover a vacancy on the bench which saved our community approximately $600,000.00.
Prior to taking the bench, Judge Wilson was a 16-year veteran prosecutor with the Washoe County District Attorney's Office and was assigned the most violent offenders. He tried to jury verdict everything from DUI death to embezzlement, robbery, rape, and murder. Judge Wilson also performed on-call and crime consultation for local law enforcement agencies for felonies and homicides, and was the office liaison for multiple Federal Law Enforcement Agencies. Judge Wilson has taught Ethics and Professional Responsibility to Nevada prosecutors at the Nevada Prosecutor's Conference, and taught the Law of War for deploying U.S. Army National Guard soldiers.
Judge Wilson earned his bachelor's degree in History from Humboldt State University, Magna Cum Laude, in 1993. Thereafter, he attended Santa Clara University School of Law where he earned his Juris Doctorate and was awarded the American Jurisprudence Award for Excellence in Constitutional Law.
Judge Wilson is a retired Major who served for over 26 years in both the U.S. Marines on active duty and later as a reservist in the Nevada Army National Guard. He commanded multiple units including a M1A1 Tank Company and an Armored Reconnaissance Company. Following company command, he served as an Officer Candidate School TAC Officer, an M1A1Tank Battalion Fire Support Officer, a Support Operations Officer, and as the Battalion Operations Officer.
Judge Wilson is very active in our community. He is a regular guest speaker in our local high schools teaching U.S. Government, Law and Procedure, and for many years Judge Wilson has served as a scoring judge for local students in the We the People constitutional program. He has worked with at-risk teens in the Washoe County School District's Substance Abuse Intervention Program, and he coached youth sports. His wife, Betsy, taught Kindergarten for six years, and is presently the school librarian at a local elementary school in Sparks. They are the proud parents of a current UNR student and a UNR bachelor’s and master’s degree graduate.