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'It's different when you're retired'
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Jan 16, 2014 | 1074 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Susan Deriso couldn’t help but crack a smile as a piercing alarm sounded, causing every Sparks Justice Court employee to snap their heads up in fear of a security breach. Deriso innocently held her rectangular card in the air, as if to say ‘it wasn’t me,’ while the rest of the court staff just chuckled knowing Deriso’s lockout from her former chambers was bound to happen eventually.

Deriso was Sparks Justice of the Peace for 13 years and a Washoe County civil service employee for 32 years before she announced her retirement. As of Jan. 3 her name was “taken off the door” but she remains in a Pro Tempore role through Feb. 9, and on Tuesday she was back inside Sparks Justice Court for a few hearings and a flooding of emotions.

“It makes me very happy (to be back),” Deriso said inside her old office Tuesday. “It’s like when you have your grandkids because you are so happy to have them for the day, and at the end of the day you send them home. I get to come here and have the fun of doing this job and then sleep in tomorrow. Knowing I still get to come back again is so exciting because I get to come do what I love.”

Washoe County now has the task of replacing Deriso through November when the position will be put on the election ballot and the winner will finish the remainder of Deriso’s four years. The long-time judge said she has not solidified her future plans just yet, but she is sure she won’t be “a couch potato, watching the news or basketball or football all day.”

“I just know me and it could be seriously bad if I just sat at home and did not do something else. I have to do something or I will go stir crazy,” Deriso said.

On Tuesday, that ‘something’ was a court hearing concerning a family eviction that brought her an interesting mix of emotions.

“It is different when you’re retired,” she said. “You’re not the judge with the name on the door. You’re just somebody sitting in. It is not the same kind of pressure on your decisions. It’s kind of eerie that way. I still rule the same way I would, but there was no stress to the decision. It was very odd. I can’t explain it.”

Deriso is now using her ample time to weigh her future options, which include possibly applying to the Supreme Court as a Senior Judge, furthering her civil service portfolio, and she is also looking into a legislative career.

Anyone who has met Deriso, whether in the courtroom or outside the office, knows she will undoubtedly miss the human interaction her position as Justice of the Peace has allotted her in the past 13 years. Although the answer was obvious, Deriso paused a moment before discussing what she would miss most as her emotions surfaced in the form of watery eyes.

“I have been very lucky to work here and this has been a great job,” Deriso said tearfully, expressing her love for her coworkers and Sparks citizens. “I love it here and I have friends here. I know I will come back, and I will not be wandering the halls and having free access but I can still see everyone.

“There is no way that I could totally stay away. I am almost addicted. It is such a wonderful job, and you don’t just walk away from a job like this.”

Deriso, 54, said although her future has a few paths to choose from, she feels confident she will not have any regrets about retiring early. After rising from the ranks as a maid and a clerk to become Justice of the Peace, she said she hopes to continue spreading the message her father instilled in her.

“I think everybody should know they can do it,” Deriso said. “You see people struggling to get a job, but if I can get here anybody can get here. You just have to want it bad enough.”
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