In June 2014, the Nevada County Bar launched a project to gather the historical documents and records of the Nevada County legal community and to create an oral history archive. Our mission: “To assemble, organize and preserve our community legal history by recording (audio and/or video or written) interviews.”  Inspired and lead by Joe Bell, the HAP committee formed that summer.

Our purpose is to create a living collection of the stories that connect us with our rich legal history and to inspire all members of our legal community to set forth the ideals demonstrated by the accomplishments of those who have gone before.

The Bar retained the services of Basya Petnick, an oral historian, who taught us how to create our own oral history archive and continues to advise us. Last year, the HAP Committee joined with the Nevada County Historical Society and the Superior Court to sponsor a reception at the new History Center on Zion Street, which contains the Searls Historical Library where the archives will be stored. The recorded and transcribed interview with retired Superior Court judge Frank Francis was presented at that event.

Meanwhile, County Clerk Sean Metroka joined the HAP Committee and worked to complete a spreadsheet listing all the “Nevada County Community Legal History People.” At present, the document is a chronological list of the names and terms of most judicial officers from 1850 to 2017 and some clerks and Bar Association presidents.  Please help us fill in the blanks in this timeline.

This year, the HAP Committee has undertaken preliminary discussions with Ray Shine, and Richard Ellers, both with long-term practices in Nevada County, and other local attorneys who have agreed to provide interviews. The interview of Ray Shine is in process. We encourage all interested or retired lawyers, judges, court personnel and legal workers to contact the HAP Committee to schedule an interview.

The HAP Committee welcomes new members, interviewers and narrators for this interesting and important project. Meetings are now being held at 4:00 p.m. on the Fourth Wednesday of each month, at the Public Law Center in the Nevada City Courthouse. Contact Joseph Bell or go to the NCBA website for contacts and information. (Joseph J. Bell: 272-7477 or attorney@bellslaw.com.)