By Brooke Santina, Nevada Day Inc.
Few people have the opportunity to influence lives in such a positive way as Miriam Shearing has throughout her career. She paved the way for women to serve in Nevada’s courts up to the Supreme Court of Nevada and did so with grace and poise earning respect from peers and the public.
Shearing grew up on a farm in New York, the oldest of three children.
She graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and later earned her law degree from Boston College Law School.
She and her physician husband lived in Pakistan for a time while her husband worked under the auspices of MEDICO, the medical arm of CARE. The couple moved to Nevada in 1969 and Miriam was admitted to the bar that same year.
Shearing had many firsts in her career, which prompted the Nevada Day Board to vote for her as our Grand Marshal. It all started when she had the opportunity to serve as a Juvenile Court Referee in 1975, the first woman to do so.
This experience made her realize that she really liked being a judge. She went to the County Commission to apply for an appointment to an open seat on the Las Vegas Township Justice Court.
One of the commissioners told her “Women do not belong in the courts.”
To Shearing that sounded like a challenge so she ran for the position and won. On the campaign trail she met with some men who held the same view as the county commissioner, but the majority of the people she met said “It’s about time!”
In 1977 Shearing became a Justice of the Peace in Clark County. She said she tried to give all a full and fair hearing and wanted them to come away from the court, regardless of the decision, with the feeling that they had had consideration by someone who cares.
There were still some men who didn’t think she could be fair to men and questioned the “legitimacy” of her decisions. But Shearing plowed full speed ahead and eventually won over most naysayers.
However, when she was considering running for the district court in 1991, she took a poll and 12 percent of the responders still said they would never vote for a woman as judge.
In 1983, after a heated campaign, Shearing became a Nevada District Court Judge, the first woman to do so. As a district court judge, Shearing also served as a Juvenile Court Judge, a position she found the most fulfilling while at the same time sometimes the saddest and most frustrating.
In 1992, Shearing ran and won election to the Nevada Supreme Court. During her campaign she called herself, “Unbought and unbossed” which went over well with Nevadans.
It was a difficult campaign, but she won and became the first female Justice on the Nevada Supreme Court.
Her experience on the Supreme Court strengthened her view on how important it is to have people in positions of power who come from different backgrounds and who have different experiences in life.
Each can bring a different perspective and can enlighten the others.
Shearing served on the Supreme Court two terms from 1993 to 2005 and retired as Chief Justice, another female first.
After retirement from the Nevada Supreme Court Shearing served many years as a Senior Judge, mostly in the rural courts. She had the opportunity to travel throughout Nevada and sit in the local courts on cases from which the local judge had been disqualified.
In 2019, the Nevada Board of Regents named her a recipient of the Distinguished Nevadan award, the Nevada System of Higher Education’s most prestigious honor.
The award recognizes prominent individuals who have made significant contributions to the cultural, economic, scientific, or social advancement of Nevada and its people.
Shearing was married for 57 years to Steven Shearing, who had
an impressive career in his own right, a physician and a pioneer in cataract surgery.
Miriam and Steven had three children together, two daughters and a son. Steven passed away in 2011.
Nevada Day Inc is very proud to have former Supreme Court Justice Miriam Shearing as our Grand Marshal for 2022.
Her efforts elevated our court system, set a shining example of what women can do when given the opportunity and helped people throughout the state.
Wave to her as she drives by today - as a thank you - for all she has contributed to Nevada!
To read the full story click here
*For instructions on how to reply and comment on Forum topics, please click here.
Questions? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
702-857-8754 • P.O. Box 231412 • Las Vegas, NV 89123
Nevada IWF is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.