Thursday, September 18, 2014

Department C Election Guide

Today we look at the infamous Family Court Department C bench, which up until yesterday was "occupied" by Steven Jones. As you may have noticed, yesterday Jones pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a $2.6 million investment scheme. (You can get the full story at the RJ.) Supposedly, Jones was going to officially resign from the bench by sending a letter to the Governor. There has been no word on whether the Governor will act to replace him at this time since there is an election in early November that Jones is not in since he already decided not to run for reelection.

It is nice that the Jones debacle (because it really has been a debacle) finally appears to be over, but it is troubling how long it took to get here. After he was indicted in October 2012, it was late November  2012 when the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline suspended Jones with pay (the with pay part was required by state law) until his criminal case was resolved. Meanwhile, a temporary judge was paid to fill in for some of his case load. Jones contested the Commission's decision impeding the Commission's ability to make a decision. Then, we had the joy of seeing this picture and learning of Jones' relationship with (the late) Lisa Willardson, which after a hearing on the matter, Jones admitted remorse for making one mistake in his 25 years of service on the bench. As a consequence of that mistake, he got a slap on the wrist and did not collect his salary for three months while he was still suspended because of his federal indictment. Now, here we are almost two years later and Jones is finally stepping down from the bench. It's cliche to say the system doesn't work, but with this and the (late) Elizabeth Halverson debacle, it's clear that the Nevada system for judicial discipline DOES NOT WORK. Here's hoping that we learn from these mistakes and take steps to avoid these types of problems in the future.

That said, let's take a look at two candidates seeking to replace Jones. Should voters choose Rebecca Burton or John Hall "Jack" Howard, Jr? More info is available at Vote411 or you can see what we said about these candidates in the primary earlier this year here.

Who should be elected in Family Court Department C?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Department 3 Election Guide

District Court Department 3 features a sitting judge, Douglas W. Herndon, versus a perennial candidate, Michael D. Davidson. You can get more information at or Vote411. If you want a reminder of how Herndon faired in Judging the Judges, 81% said he should be retained and he had 5 peremptory challenges. Is it time for Herndon to go or does he deserve another six years on the bench in Department 3?

Who should be elected in Department 3?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Department B Election Guide

In Family Court Department B we have Linda Marquis and Joseph A. Scalia, II running for the bench. More information is available at Vote411. Who gets your vote and why?

Who should voters elect in Family Court Department B?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Department 2 Election Guide

With early voting a little over a month away, it's time to start looking at who should get your votes this fall. You can see a full list of candidates and offices on the fall ballot here. We'll be giving you a chance to comment on each of the judicial races and to enlighten us on who we should be voting for this fall.

We'll begin with the open bench in Department 2. The candidates are Richard Scotti and John G. Watkins. You can see some more information on them at Who gets your vote and why?

For those of you wanting to discuss the news:

  • Bethany Barnes (@BetsBarnes) has done a follow up piece on the mystery of the DA's witness payment account. [RJ]
  • Jeff German (@JGermanRJ) has more details on the HOA scandal including the role of attorney Keith Gregory. [RJ]

Friday, September 12, 2014

Boulder City

  • If all you know about Boulder City is from this blog, you must be getting some pretty interesting ideas about our neighbor to the southeast. They're in the news again--this time because their city officials are costing taxpayers more legal fees by dragging out a protracted court battle they've already lost. Back in 2010, the City Council directed City Attorney, Dave Olsen, to go to court seeking clarification on ballot initiatives (which had passed) limiting the power of the Council. At least that is one side of the story since this process involved the City naming six individuals who had brought the initiatives. (You can read a more detailed account here.) Ultimately, this went all the way to the Supreme Court where Boulder City lost. Now, the City has incurred over $220,000 in attorney's fees (they used Lionel Sawyer & Collins) and has been ordered to pay $180,000 in attorney's fees to the other parties (who were represented by former City Councilwoman Linda Strickland and her husband Tracy Strickland--the Stricklands who have previously gone to battle against Stephen Stubbs). Boulder City recently challenged the attorney's fees (now they're represented by Steve Morris) and lost with the judge awarding another $10,000 in fees. [8NewsNow I-Team
  • In addition to all that, you might recall a story about Boulder City's City Attorney Dave Olsen. We mentioned him back in May when it came to light that he had decided to be an expert witness for his son in a civil suit his son brought against the City. Former Boulder City Police Chief Tom Finn (who was ousted a year ago, but was still recently in the news voicing his opinion) filed a formal ethics complaint about Olsen. This week Olsen agreed to one willful violation and is facing a fine of $1500. No word on whether a complaint was filed with the State Bar--but shouldn't they be involved too? [8NewsNow]
  • In case all of the above was starting to make you think Las Vegas is pretty normal, don't worry, next week we'll begin our look at the judicial races for the upcoming election and you'll be reminded how truly special you are too!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

13 Years Ago Today

Remembering what happened 13 years ago today can be hard. It can also be good. It can remind us how we hurt, how we felt, how we reacted, why we should be vigilant, and what it feels like to pull together as a country. Every one of was impacted by those tragic events in 2001. Where were you? How did you find out? What did you do? 


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Noble Profession

Once in awhile law is referred to as a noble profession, but most of the time we don't get any respect. Lawyers tend to get lumped together as a group of blood-sucking vultures who serve no useful purpose to society. Of course, we know better than that. We know that lawyers are not as bad as the few that grab the public's attention with negative headlines. That said, there are definitely some areas of law that get more respect than others and we want to know which practice areas you perceive those to be. If someone getting into the law was looking for the most respectable practice area in Las Vegas, what would you tell them?

What is the most respectable practice area in Las Vegas?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Out To Dry

  • It appears that suspended Judge Steven Jones has decided to accept a plea deal that will likely get him no more than 27 months in prison as opposed to the 12 years he would have been facing if his federal fraud charges actually went to trial. In addition to whatever time he gets, he will be resigning from the bench (a job which he hasn't performed in quite some time) and surrendering his law license. Our commenters brought up some good points yesterday. What does this whole experience with Jones say about the Commission on Judicial Discipline and our ability to remove/deal with corrupt judges? [RJ]
  • Here's a couple looks at how the gay marriage cases oral arguments went yesterday. [RJ; Las Vegas Sun]
  • Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Coffin is questioning why a feasibility study report that was done on the proposed soccer stadium was not produced to the Council until after their meeting last week. Hmm.... [RJ]
  • Northeast Clark County experienced the worst flooding it has seen since 1981, including wiping out portions of the I-15 which may be closed for 3-4 days. If you're headed to Mesquite or other destinations northward on the I-15, plan accordingly. [Fox5Vegas; Las Vegas Sun]

Monday, September 8, 2014

Win Lose Or Draw

  • DA Steve Wolfson, who is up for reelection this fall against Raymond "Jim" Duensing (btw--his trial is still on for October 28, 2014), wants DUI marijuana laws changed. [RJ
  • The Ninth Circuit will hear oral arguments on the gay marriage cases today related to gay marriage bans in Nevada, Idaho, and Hawaii. [Las Vegas Sun]  The oral arguments begin at 1:00 pm and can be watched lived on the 9th Circuit website. [Live Stream]
  • Among the Plaintiffs in the Nevada suit to overturn the gay marriage ban are Las Vegas attorney Tara Newberry and Reno attorney Mikyla Miller. [RGJ]
  • Jon Ralston has an in-depth look at how the Tesla deal was done. [Ralston Reports]
  • Next year the Nevada legislature will likely consider whether Clark County schools should start later in the day. [RJ]
  • Another look at Nevada ballot question #1 this fall which proposes the creation of a court of appeals. [Las Vegas Sun]

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Price Is Right

  • Tesla has selected northern Nevada as the site of its $5 billion Gigafactory and, in exchange, Nevada only has to give it $1.25 billion in tax abatements/incentives. [RGJ]
  • Can someone explain this? "Nevada homes relatively affordable for buyers with student debt." [8NewsNow]
  • The US District Court of Nevada is inviting attorneys to apply to be appointed to the pro bono Inmate Early Mediation Panel. [CCBA
  • A reader wants to know your suggestions on the best place for a lunch meeting with clients.