Judge Puccinelli’s widow, Margaret, and their daughter, Cassandra, accepted the inaugural Chief Justice’s Award to honor the memory of the judge who was active in Nevada’s legal community and served on several Supreme Court commissions and committees.
The Chief Justice’s Award will be given annually to the person, persons or entity that the chief justice determines has made a significant contribution to the administration of justice in Nevada.
“Judge Puccinelli is the deserving first recipient of the award,” Chief Justice Saitta said. “He was universally respected within Nevada’s legal community and was someone we could always call on to serve above and beyond his routine duties.
“He simply helped make the judiciary in Nevada better,” Chief Justice Saitta said.
Judge Puccinelli, a second-generation Nevada attorney, served on the District Court bench in Elko from 2002 until his death on Aug. 8, 2011 after a battle with cancer. He was 58.
“Andy was special,” Justice Michael Douglas said. “He was a judge’s judge. He was always looking for better ways to serve the people who came before him.”
Justice Michael Cherry recalled a time when a Supreme Court panel went to Elko in May 2011 to hold oral arguments and how Judge Puccinelli’s assistance made it a memorable experience.
“This man touched a lot of people’s lives,” Justice James Hardesty said. “We were all lucky to have known him and shared time with him.”
Justice Mark Gibbons said that Nevada “couldn’t get a better judge than Andy.”
Margaret Puccinelli noted that Judge Puccinelli “loved being a district judge and I think he was a damn good judge.”
After graduating from McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific, Judge Puccinelli returned to Elko and spent the next 24 years with his father, Leo Puccinelli, in the practice of law at Puccinelli & Puccinelli.
Judge Puccinelli was active in the State Bar of Nevada, serving as its president in 1998-1999. He also served as a Nevada Supreme Court arbitrator and civil settlement judge.
Judge Puccinelli was appointed to the District Court bench on Sept. 23, 2002 by then-Gov. Kenny Guinn. In addition to his duties presiding over civil, criminal, family and juvenile cases, Judge Puccinelli was appointed by the Supreme Court to serve on the Court Improvement Committee, the Access to Justice Commission, Specialty Court Funding Committee and the Judicial Public Information Committee.
A few months before his death, he completed his term as president of the Nevada District Judges.
Judge Puccinelli was an avid golfer and for 33 years officiated high school football and basketball games.