Friday, June 28, 2013

En Fuego

  • The jury in the Dr. Desai case got the case last night around 7 p.m. after 7 hours of closing argument. Was seven hours really necessary? Aren't juries protected from cruel and unusual punishment too? [RJ]
  • Robert Draskovich gets another win by getting a child abuse case dismissed against a homeowner whose gun was used in the fatal shooting of a 5-year old boy by his 11-year old uncle. Attorney Chip Siegel served as a special prosecutor due to a conflict for DA Steve Wolfson. The case was presided over by Henderson Justice of the Peace David S. Gibson, Sr., who found that the charge didn't fit the facts. How advisable is it to have former prosecutors turned criminal defense attorneys serving as special prosecutors for conflicted prosecutors who used to be criminal defense attorneys? [RJ]
  • Here's a nice little write-up on the Women In Need (WIN) specialty court. Wait, we have a women in need specialty court? Does anyone know where we can find a list of all of our specialty courts, because the Clark County Courts site is a little outdated--according to it, we have two business court judges. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • One of Nevada's fortunate sons, Leif Reid, helped Southern Wine & Spirits get $377,000 in punitive damages. Next up, attorney fees in excess of $6.5 million. [RJ]
  • The Cleveland Cavaliers stunned the nation last night by selecting UNLV freshman forward Anthony Bennett as the first overall pick in the NBA draft. Props to Dave Rice, but we'd much rather see the team go deep in the tourney. [ESPN]
  • Yes, we know we live in a desert and that it gets hot here, but when we're setting record highs, it's okay to complain a little bit about the heat, right? [RJ]

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Playing Dumb?

The RJ reports that, after eight grueling weeks of trial, lawyers in the Dr. Dipak Desai/Ronald Lakeman/Hep C trial are expected to make their closing statements today before the jury begins deliberations. Neither Desai, nor Lakeman took the stand in their own defense. As indicated in the article, Judge Adair specifically questioned Dr. Desai about it:
Before the lunch break Tuesday outside the presence of the jury, Adair asked Desai to stand up at the defense table so she could question him about his right to testify in his own defense.
But when she asked him if he understood that right, he turned to his lead attorney, Richard Wright, in apparent confusion and did not answer the judge.
Adair suggested his posture was different than what she was accustomed to seeing, and said she didn’t understand why he couldn’t look at her.
“I just hope there’s not some exaggeration going on,” she said.
 As you may recall, there has been much ado about Desai's competency to stand trial. Do you think it's legit or he is just playing dumb? Obviously many criminal defendants are not going to testify to avoid self-incrimination, but is playing dumb a good strategy? Why do so many civil defendants take the same tact?

Anyone have any insight into what the outcome might be? What's the over/under on the jury deliberation time?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Carefully Crafted Decisions

On what is sure to be seen as a historic day at the Supreme Court of the United States, the Court has ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional where states have authorized same-sex marriage. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy wrote that DOMA violates the 5th amendment by seeking to displace protections afforded to those in same-sex marriages by the states. "This opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages." You can view the Windsor opinion and dissents here.

With regard to Proposition 8, the Court ruled that the parties making the federal appeal of the state court's decision finding Prop 8 unconstitutional did not have standing. As you will recall, after the state court ruled, the attorney general and governor declined to appeal the ruling, so certain individuals took up the cause after the California Supreme Court said they had standing to do so. The US Supreme Court found they did not have standing and remanded the case back to the 9th Circuit with instructions to dismiss the appeal. For the time being, it looks like California cannot enforce Proposition 8. You can read the Hollingsworth v. Perry opinion and dissent here.

What do you think? Did they make the right call? Not go far enough? Do any of you legal scholars have any valuable insights?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Thrown Under The Bus

  • The Supreme Court of the United States ruled section 4 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. [Washington Post]
  • Tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. our time, the Supreme Court will issue its rulings on Prop 8 and DOMA. The best way to follow it live is at the Scotusblog.
  • In the HOA Scandal case, Chris Rasmussen said in court yesterday that the FBI investigated county commissioners and said that some politicians "will be thrown under the bus." Anyone have any clue who or what he's talking about? [RJ]
  • As mentioned previously in the comments, it has been suggested that Half Price Lawyers was sold from Adam Stokes to Glenn Truitt? Can anyone confirm or deny or provide details? The firm website and NV SOS page still reflect ownership by Stokes.
  • Yesterday, Nevada Judicial Watch (@Nevadajudiciary) tweeted the following concerning ex parte communicating judges. For easy reference, click here to view Nevada Judicial Canon 2.9 on ex parte communications. What do you think about this tweet? Is it true, false, missing a few judges?

Monday, June 24, 2013


250,000. No, thankfully that's not the starting salary for this year's first year associates. However, it is the milestone number of page views that we hit sometime over the weekend. From its humble beginnings (which really got going two years ago this month), we've steadily picked up steam in keeping you abreast of what's happening in the Las Vegas legal community. (The graph below shows view over time.) We want to take this opportunity to say thanks for reading and participating, because those of you who read and comment are what make this blog useful and fun. 

We'll also take this opportunity to remind you that we're always open to suggestions. If there is something you want to see discussed on the blog, let us know in the comments or shoot us an email at the addresses on the side of the main page. Sometimes it's a little tricky coming up with something to write about until the next one of you gets yourself in trouble, so any suggestions are definitely welcome. 

Once again, thanks for playing and we hope you're having as much fun as we are.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Firm Spotlight: Marquis Aurbach Coffing

Today we turn the spotlight on the law firm of Marquis Aurbach Coffing. Founded in 1979, MAC's practice areas include litigation; real estate; construction law; business transactions; business law; and, asset protection, among others. MAC has over 35 lawyers at one location in Summerlin. MAC often pops up in comments on this blog about pay, perks, and associate satisfaction. (We'll let you debate that below.) One thing that really sets MAC apart from the rest is the fact that they have a chef who prepares lunch daily. Does your firm have that? Also, they have a sense of humor as evidenced by the following picture they have on their site.

Here's your chance to talk about MAC. Are they still keeping associates happy? Are their associates lawyer-hot? Do you wish you worked there? Anything else the public should know about them?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Super Lawyers 2013

As pointed out by one of our commenters, this week gave us the Nevada Super Lawyers 2013. Here's your chance to crow about making the list or to debate the merits of Super Lawyers versus the Legal Elite. To get you started, we'll point out that in April 2013, Super Lawyers got a patent for its selection process. We'll also give you this link to the Wikipedia article on Who's Who Among American High School Students. So what do you think, does Super Lawyers make you a (Wo)Man of Steel?

Speaking of things that remind us of krpytonite, the RJ reports that Judge Kathleen Delaney filed a seven page affidavit defending her sentencing of Paul Santiago. With regard to the accusation that Colleen McCarty somehow influenced her decision, Judge Delaney said that McCarty was not involved in Santiago's case in any way and that the "unfounded and unsupported allegation that press coverage played any role in my handling of the subject case" was egregious. Anyone with access to the affidavit want to check it out and see if there is anything else of interest to share with the rest of us?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lawyers Concerned For Lawyers

In February of this year, the Supreme Court made it a mandatory requirement that all Nevada attorneys take a CLE on substance abuse, addictive disorders, or mental health problems at least once every three years. In support of that noble cause, today's post is dedicated to Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. If you're not familiar with it, here is a brief description:
Confidential help from a fellow lawyer is a phone call away
Toll Free: 866-828-0022
Coe Swobe, LCL Coordinator
If you, or any lawyer in Nevada, are in need of confidential assistance with an alcohol, drug, depression, stress or gambling problem, help is readily available through the LCL Hotline.When calling, leave your first name and telephone number. A fellow lawyer, who has also had problems, will call you back. You'll be listened to with an understanding heart rather than scorn, judgment and condemnation. You can talk frankly. The person returning your call is solving problems just like yours, and is living happily and usefully doing so.
You can get more information here. The most important thing to know about it is that it is strictly confidential. Your calls are not reported to the state bar or courts and can't be used against you in any related proceeding. It's just a way for you to get help for yourself or a colleague. If you are struggling with any of the problems listed above, please don't hesitate to call. We care about the health of our community and want you to know help is available.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Separation Of Court And Its Press-Credentialed Interns

Nothing like a good ol' fashioned plea deal rejection to stir up the conspiracy mill. The RJ is reporting today that Judge Kathleen Delaney (she of the Basset Hound pictures and green robe fame) disregarded a stipulated sentence of probation for a sex offender. We'll skip over the procedural aspects of that (which you can read in the article) skip to the fun part. The defendant's attorney, Robert Draskovich, expressed concern over Judge Delaney's relation with a member of the beloved 8NewsNow I-Team, Colleen McCarty. According to the RJ, McCarty, who just graduated from Boyd last month, completed an internship with Judge Delaney in April. Draskovich claims that there was no media coverage on his client's story until September 2012, a few months before McCarty began her internship with Judge Delaney. We're not sure how that impacts anything, but it is outweighed by the fact that McCarty continued to report on the case and the sentencing last month after completing the internship and without disclosing her prior internship with Delaney. While the articles suggests a breach of journalistic ethics, there is no discussion about whether there was a breach of any legal ethics. We also do not know if McCarty intends on practicing here, but the article indicates she is prepping for the bar.

So, we turn this ready-made MPRE/Ethics question over to you for analysis. First, does a law student who works as an intern for a judge have to follow the rules of professional conduct? Is it a violation of the RPC to report on a case being handled by a judge you interned for? Are there any other issues we should be concerned about?

Also, are green robes an appropriate fashion choice after Memorial Day?

Friday, June 14, 2013

#FF (Follow Friday)

Knowing that many lawyers are technophobic luddites, today's post is to help you get caught up with the times. Although hashtags are coming soon to Facebook, the #FF is a Twitter-centric hashtag that means Follow Friday. It's used on Twitter to designate a tweet listing people you should follow. I'm sure that makes sense to the 65 of you who are on Twitter, but how does that impact the rest of you and what is a hashtag and who cares? Let's show you.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Justice For Turk

At last, justice is served in the needless killing of Turk the helmeted guinea fowl. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the UC Berkeley law student who did the heinous act, Justin Teixeira, pleaded guilty yesterday to killing another person's animal. As you may recall, Teixeira's fellow law students Eric Cuellar and Hazhir Kargaran, who were also implicated in Turk's death, have already pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and paid fines and restitution. So, what punishment did recent law grad Teixeira get for this admitting to this Class D felony?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Second Base For Lawyers?

Image from: 8NewsNow

There you have it folks. Thanks to the I-Team at 8NewsNow (click there to see a video featuring Lisa Willardson so you can decide if she is lawyer hot), this is the picture that allegedly got former prosecutor Lisa Willardson fired for a relationship with Judge Steven Jones while she was making appearances before him. As you will recall, the picture started a chain of events that included an investigation, lots of publicity, and Judge Jones refusing to work with certain other prosecutors. As we mentioned the other day, Willardson is suing the DA's office in federal court. According to the I-Team, Willardson was cleared of any wrong doing by the State Bar of Nevada, while Judge Jones is on paid vacation suspended with pay until a hearing before the Nevada Judicial Commission scheduled for July related to other allegations.

In other news:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lawyer Hot

Earlier this year, President Obama caused a little bit of a media stir when, speaking at a fundraiser, he referred to Kamala Harris, California's Attorney General, as "by far, the best looking attorney general in the country." Beyond the awkwardness of the leader of the free world commenting on the looks of a female attorney general, this statement reflects a well-known tenet of the legal community:

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Care About What’s Inside You

Happy Monday! Here are some of today's big stories in the Las Vegas legal community. Can you guess which one contains the quote, "I care about what's inside you."?
  • Jose Canseco was cleared of sexual assault charges; now he is trying to sell the polygraph results that he took to prove his innocence. [Fox Sports]
  • Erin Brockovich-Ellis was arrested this weekend for intoxicated boating at Lake Mead. [ABCNews]
  • Vegas Inc.'s List of Southern Nevada's Best Places to Work includes two law firms: Naqvi Injury Law (Personal Injury of Nevada) and Craig P. Kenny & Associates. [Vegas Inc.]
  • The Justice Department has disclosed some 1.5 million pages of documents so far in the case against Leon Benzer and others related to the HOA scandal. [RJ]
  • The Nevada legislature concluded its session. A poll ranking the best and worst legislators found some of our own listed: Mark Hutchison was #4 on the list for Best Senator, while Michael Roberson and Lucy Flores were #1 on the lists for Worst Senator and Worst Assembly Member, respectively. [RJ]
  • Former prosecutor Lisa Willardson is suing the Clark County District Attorney's Office to clear her name stemming from allegations against her related to her relationship with Judge Steven Jones. Her suit was filed in federal court on Friday by attorney Gary Modafferi. [RJ]

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why Not Have An Annual Meet Your Judges Pool Party?

  • Remember that today is the hearing on ADKT 487 and also the annual Clark County Bar's Meet Your Judges Mixer. 
  • A Californian lawyer decided to trash his hotel room and made national headlines. We'd like to thank the local bar for restraining themselves and letting one of California's attorneys have the spotlight. [RJ]
  • A local seventh grader was accidentally shot and killed. The news is reporting that, for now, no criminal charges are being pursued. Attorney Bob Massi says the civil case is straightforward. What do you think? [Fox5Vegas]
  • An excessive heat warning goes into effect today through Sunday. [Fox5Vegas]
  • Speaking of heat, the Heat and the Spurs kick off the NBA Finals tonight? Will Lebron James get his second championship or will he flop and choke? [Las Vegas Sun]

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Firm Spotlight: Cotton, Driggs, Walch, Holley, Woloson & Thompson

Today we turn the spotlight on Cotton, Driggs, Walch, Holley, Woloson & Thompson, the firm with the slogan, "Partner up with one of ours." Originally formed in 1996 under a different name, CDW currently has 28 lawyers. Judging from the slogan, we're guessing there are more partners than associates. In early 2012, a contingent of the firm left and formed Santoro Whitmire. CDW's website indicates its practice areas as:  bankruptcy; business; commercial litigation; construction; eminent domain; estate planning; natural resources; real property; tax; and, technology and intellectual property.

So, what do you know about CDW? What's the firm culture like? Do they pay well? Did their 5 attorneys who made Nevada's Legal Elite deserve it?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

MGM's Big Day At The Big Court

This afternoon the Supreme Court of Nevada will hear oral argument regarding two different aspects of the MGM CityCenter case. You can read the court summaries of the two arguments here or watch the live stream starting at 2:30 p.m. The first argument will be about whether the work-product privilege applies to documents held by a public relations firm hired by MGM to help manage publicity around the unmitigated PR disaster that is the Harmon hotel. Specifically, MGM is seeking to keep the PR firm's work product privilege despite the fact that they were hired by MGM and not by MGM's attorneys.

The second argument, and perhaps the more interesting of the two, is MGM's challenge of a decision last July by Judge Gonzalez that permitted MGM to demolish the Harmon, but excluded expert extrapolation evidence. The issues, as framed by the clerk who wrote the summary on the Supreme Court website are: 
(1) Did the district court overstep its gatekeeping authority in excluding the extrapolation evidence? 
(2) Did the district court adopt a bright-line rule for the admissibility of extrapolation evidence, requiring that it be based on results from randomly selected testing locations? 
(3) Did the district court unlawfully sanction petitioners for failing to randomly choose the testing sites by placing conditions on the additional destructive testing? 

This case is getting national news coverage and will be another opportunity for the Supreme Court to overturn Judge Gonzalez. It is also an opportunity for the struggling MGM to try and turn the tide in its favor (since Judge Gonzalez's ruling last July, MGM has changed counsel several times, hiring multiple firms, and currently has completely different counsel than it did then--see this recent post mentioning Morris Law Group and Kemp Jones & Coulthard withdrawing as counsel). The arguments will be heard by the en banc Supreme Court less Justices Pickering and Paraguirre who, ironically, had to recuse themselves because of their connection to the two firms that just withdrew as counsel for MGM.  

Any predictions on how this turns out? Will one of Nevada's largest employers sway the Court once again? Will any of Nevada's Legal Elite be arguing? Will anyone care? Tune in this afternoon to find out!

Monday, June 3, 2013

It's Totally Who You Know.

Nevada Business Magazine's 2013 Legal Elite, a list of the top 3% of Nevada lawyers according to their peers (in other words, a totally legitimate survey), was published today. Congrats to those of you who deserve it.

Which Is Most Important?

If you were to give advice to a new associate just starting out, what would you tell them would get them the most financial success as a lawyer:  great writing skills, great oral advocacy skills, or a great golf game? Why?