Monday, December 30, 2013

Too Much

We were going to be on hiatus until after the New Year, but too much is going on to not make a post.

  • Las Vegas Justice of the Peace (and Son of the Mayor) Eric Goodman suffered a traumatic head injury in a Summerlin park restroom on December 15. No one seems to know exactly what happened, but it appears his injuries are likely the result of an assault. The good news is he is "recovering well." [RJ, Las Vegas Sun]
  • In a 4-page decision released on Christmas Eve, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline found that special prosecutors proved 8 of the 12 charges against Judge Steven Jones. A hearing is scheduled for January 27th (well after the judicial candidate filing deadline), to determine the sanctions he will face as a result. [RJ]
  • According to her Facebook page, a private celebration honoring the life of Lisa Willardson will take place in Utah on January 4, 2014. In lieu of flowers and in honor of her dedication to the rights and welfare of abused and neglected children, her family asks that donations be made in her name to Childhaven.
  • The RJ published the results of its 2013 Judicial Performance Evaluation and is publishing a series of articles on "Judging the Judges." We'll have a post focusing specifically on the results later (only 12 out of 90 judges had a majority say do no retain). For today, let's take a look at an RJ article on how Nevada Supreme Court incumbents usually draw no challengers. The article reads a carefully crafted warning that you're wasting your time and money if you run against a Nevada Supreme Court incumbent. This year, the two seats up for contention are Justices Pickering and Gibbons. What do you think? Is it already a foregone conclusion or is it worthwhile for someone to challenge them?

Friday, December 27, 2013

RIP Lisa Willardson

The RJ is reporting that Lisa Willardson died Thursday night at age 45. No information at this time on the cause of death. Our condolences go out to her friends and family affected by her death.

Although we don't know how she died, we'll still take this opportunity to remind you that help is available. The law is a high stress profession and it never hurts to talk to someone. If you or someone you know is struggling, don't be afraid to reach out for help or to offer some kind words.
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.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Top Ten Stories of 2013

As the end of 2013 rapidly approaches and we enter the least productive week of the year, it's time to reflect on the year gone by. Before we do, we just want to say thanks for reading, commenting, and offering your input. Like we have said before, we make the effort to keep the blog going because we think it provides an important venue to the Las Vegas legal community where you can hear about what's going on, ask questions, compare bonuse, get advice, etc. As always, we're open to your suggestions on how we can better fill that role, so if you have any comments, criticisms, ideas, gossip, or want to volunteer to write a guest post, let us know. We wish you all warm holidays and a properous new year! (We'll be back next week/next year!)

After the jump, we take a look at the top ten Las Vegas-related legal stories of 2013...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chestnuts Roasting

  • Family Court marshal Steve Rushfield, whose name has come up in several of this year's stories about misconduct in the Family Court, was put on paid vacation administrative leave. [RJ; 8NewsNow]
  • Speaking of marshals, Clark County approved a $200,000 settlement with 18 marshals who sued the county in federal court for unpaid overtime. [RJ]
  • Another Nevada Department of Corrections inmate died...[RJ]
  • The deadline to get yourself insured for next year is fast approaching. Are you covered or going to risk the penalty? [Fox5Vegas]
  • Governor Sandoval named 18 people to a Nevada mental health council--including Ret. Judge Jackie Glass and her husband, District Attorney Steve Wolfson. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Still no word on the Nevada Commission of Judicial Discipline's decision on Judge Steven Jones. What's up with that?

Thursday, December 19, 2013


It's that time of year again--time to talk bonuses! Last month we did a poll where 59% of you were holding out hope at some chance for a bonus. For the 39% of you who expected no bonus, here's hoping you were wrong.

To help us help you know if you're being fairly compensated, we have a poll question with general bonus ranges. Additionally, feel free to provide as much detail as you want about: how many years you've been practicing, billable requirements for bonus consideration, extenuating circumstances, typicality, and what type of practice you're in (big/small firm, public/private). 

How much of a bonus did you get this year?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Annual Airing of Grievances

"The tradition of Festivus begins with the Airing of Grievances. I got a lot of problems with you people! And now, you're gonna hear about it." --Frank Costanza

Although Festivus isn't normally celebrated until December 23, we like to get the Airing of Grievances out of the way a little earlier so that we can more fully enjoy the holiday season without all the pent-up, excess negativity. 

This is your chance to whine and complain about your salary, your job, your boss, the courts, the Commission on Judicial Discipline, not being lawyer hot, this blog, etc. It's also your chance to provide some feedback about the way things are done in the Las Vegas legal community. Like we said last year, if it helps, think of it as a virtual bench/bar meeting. You never know when you might be the squeaky wheel that gets greased.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


  • The American Tort Reform Association's Annual List of Judicial Hellholes doesn't include Clark County. Don't worry, though. We're still on the watch list thanks to the HPN/Hep C verdicts. [ATR; 8NewsNow]
  • The Supreme Court of Nevada issued its Annual Report of the Nevada Judiciary with one possible explanation for why Clark County may be a judicial hellhole--Clark County district judges have an average of 1,840 cases each.[Las Vegas Sun]
  • Las Vegas may, or may not, have lost its gig as host city for the National Finals Rodeo. [RJ]
  • Sometime tonight the page view monitor at the bottom right of this page will roll over to 400,000 page views. Thanks for reading and let us know if you have any suggestions on how to improve the blog.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Demographically Perfect

  • It looks like Nevada will be implementing a strict sex offender registration law from 2007 that could potentially include the addition of anyone convicted of a felony sex crime or crimes involving children since 1956. The article sets forth several potential problems with its implementation. [RJ]
  • A U.S. District Judge ruled in favor of the "Sister Wives" family by holding that a Utah law prohibiting cohabitation with another person violated the First Amendment. [RJ]
  • The Nevada Department of Corrections is trotting out a new autopsy policy after seven deaths in two months. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • In a Jon Ralston piece on Senator Harry Reid, Ralston suggests that Lucy Flores' chances as a candidate for lieutenant governor are better than you might think, in part because Reid sees her as "demographically perfect." [Politico]
  • With less than a month before the judicial candidate filing deadline, we hope you are encouraging "qualificationally perfect" candidates to to make a run.
  • We have had commenters asking about the attorneys who are the subject of letters of reprimand in the Bar Counsel Report in December's Nevada Lawyer. We don't know who they are, but perhaps the bigger question is why are they just now getting around to issuing these letters when the events in question took place 3-6 years ago? And were anonymous letters really the best way of dealing with these issues?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hours of Operation

A common complaint that pops up in the comments of many articles about local judges is that they're not earning what they're paid. Specifically, people complain that when you walk through the RJC at three in the afternoon, you'd be hard pressed to find more than a handful of courts in session. (See this editorial from the Las Vegas Tribune on the topic.)

Since you are generally better informed about what is going on in the courthouse, what do you think? Are our judges following in the footsteps of Judge Valorie Vega or are they just not in the courtroom because they're hard at work in chambers with the paper pushing aspect of the job? Are you aware of any judges who are at one extreme or the other? Any judge whose work ethic you would deem exemplary?

Do Clark County judges spend enough time in the courtroom?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I'm Gettin' Nuttin' For Christmas

  • Here's a puff piece on U.S. District Court Judge Phillip Pro and his efforts to teach the world about the "Rule of Law." [RJ]
  • Attorney Brian Bloomfield pleaded guilty to several charges related to a courthouse counseling certificate scheme. He also agreed to cooperate against other defendants. He faces up to 11 years in jail or could just get probation. [RJ]
  • Yesterday, video footage of the October shooting at Bally's was released. Warning: the video is graphic in nature and shows the fatal gunshots and aftermath. The shooter, Benjamin Frazier, is being represented by his cousin, Bob Beckett (former Nye County District Attorney who made headlines for repeated DUIs) and Vicki Greco, who appeared on MyNews3 last night (video: about 4 minutes in) and who made it clear they are not laying out their whole case because the "Supreme Court discourages us trying the case in the media." DA Steve Wolfson hasn't decided yet whether to pursue the death penalty. [RJ]
  • The Washington Times did an article on Harry Reid's involvement in getting the SLS Casino project a little help. And who represents SLS? Harry's son, Rory Reid, and the team at Lionel Sawyer & Collins. [Ralston Reports]
  • Gary A. Modafferi, who (along with Robert Flummerfelt) represents Lisa Willardson in her suit against the Clark County DA's office, and represents (along with Robert Draskovich) Judge Steven Jones in his federal criminal matter, made a blog post commenting on the Glenn Cook editorial on Willardson that was in the RJ last weekend. 
  • Willardson is using her Nevada Judicial Guardian Facebook page to take opening shots against one of her opponents for the bench, Mary Perry. That Facebook page also lists several unconfirmed family court judicial candidates including: Robert Kurth, Jason Stoffel, Linda Norvell Marquis, Lisa Brown, and Maria Maskall (who Willardson says will be running against Steven Jones).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Holiday Party Post

What's your firm doing for the annual holiday party this year? Did they forego the fancy party to pad your bonus or did they book a firm cruise? Is it dinner and a show or merely ugly sweaters and a potluck lunch? Any classic firm party faux pas you want to share?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Job Tips: Chubby & Plump

"He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself."
Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore

Last year during the Annual Airing of Grievances, one of you wrote, "Our legal community suffers from obesity. The state bar should require Weight Watchers in addition to CLEs." Unfortunately, whether from legal work being primarily a desk job or just too many catered meals/cookies at depositions and events, a lot of our legal community is obese. There's no hiding that fact (although wearing a black robe and sitting on the bench helps). The good news is that it doesn't have to be this way. We all know people who have made changes in their life and shed some weight. The better news is, you can do it too!

Here's your chance to offer some suggestions on how to manage your burgeoning waistline. To get you started, check out this post extolling the virtues of "A Year in Juicing" from J. Devoy over at the Legal Satyricon. What do you think? Does juicing work for you or is CrossFit the answer? Have any of you had success with WeightWatchers? Is it possible to lose the pounds without exercise? How do you deal with all the candies and cookies being delivered this time of year?

Monday, December 9, 2013

I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

  • The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline hearing for Judge Steven Jones wrapped up on Friday. The Commission is expected to meet and decide on the outcome sometime this week. [RJ; 8NewsNow]
  • Meanwhile, Lisa Willardson is still in the spotlight. The RJ's Glenn Cook, who outed Willardson as the person behind Nevada Judicial Watch (now Nevada Judicial Guardian), wrote an editorial on Willardson's "unhealthy obsession with judges." Naturally, you will find several comments from Willardson in the comment section for the editorial. [RJ]
  • Not Vegas-centric, but to remind you we're not alone--northern Nevada judge Michael Gibbons was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in death of a 61-year old cyclist. [RGJ; RJ]
  • Approval of the demolition plan for the Harmon at CityCenter was delayed again to give an insurance carrier a chance to explain why it still needs to do more investigation. [Vegas Inc.]
  • Congrats to the UNLV football team on beating the odds. They'll be playing in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on New Year's Day after a 13-year bowl drought. [Las Vegas Sun]

Friday, December 6, 2013

Exceedingly Offended

  • As was to be expected, Lisa Willardson didn't get the same softball questions on cross-examination that she got on direct. (Willardson continues to post in the comments at the RJ and on Facebook.) Special Counsel for the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline Kathleen Paustian revealed that Willardsen and Judge Steven Jones exchanged some 2,500 text messages from October 17, 2011, to December 15, 2011. Jones also took the stand yesterday and according to reports, was "exceedingly offended" that someone took a picture of his crotch. He faces cross-examination today followed by closing arguments. [RJ; 8NewsNow]
  • As a follow up on our debate on the topic, according to the poll conducted by a national pollster, Lucy Flores is a viable candidate for lieutenant governor, though at present, she would still be edged out by Mark Hutchison
  • Here's a video made by some Boyd students about the relation back doctrine--an integral part of civil procedure? [Youtube via Above the Law]

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What The Definition of "Is" Is

  • Here's the latest RJ update on the Judge Steven Jones hearing. Jim Jimmerson began presenting Judge Jones' case and calling witnesses including Judge Jennifer Togliatti and Judge Gloria O'Malley who talked about they dealt with the repercussions of the incident. Jimmerson also put Lisa Willardson on the stand, who denied appearing before Jones in court while they were romantically involved. Things will get more interesting today when she faces cross-examination. [RJ]
  • Family Court marshal, Angel Barboza, is running for Clark County Sheriff and had a fundraising event last night. The I-Team obtained an invitation that appears to have been faxed from the family court's fax machine. [8NewsNow]
  • Nevada's Supreme Court (along with 41 other states and the District of Columbia) got an "F" grade with respect to their financial disclosures according to The Center for Public Integrity. [RJ]
  • Eminent domain ambulance chasers start your engines! NDOT provided more details last night on Project Neon, which will add lanes between Sahara and the Spaghetti Bowl and displace 345 residences and 445 businesses. [Las Vegas Sun]

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Freaking Cold

  • Surprise! O.J. Simpson's legal team filed a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court of Nevada. [RJ]
  • Day 2 of the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline v. Judge Steven Jones includes details about a court administrator who tried to broker a deal between Jones and former DA David Roger (oh, and said administrator had previously dated Lisa Willardson). [RJ]
  • The woman who is at the center of the investigation into Family Court marshals was set to testify yesterday, but then told she wasn't needed after waiting at the courthouse for two hours. [8NewsNow; RJ]
  • On Monday, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, a large NY firm announced its annual bonus amounts. Read 'em and weep, literally. [Above the Law]

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Freaking Hot

In what is surely an unpleasant experience for everyone involved, the hearing for Judge Steven Jones before the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline commenced yesterday. The RJ has an article up with details from the day including when exactly the relationship between Jones and Lisa Willardsen allegedly started, how it came to light, and how that all might have violated the code of judicial conduct. Jones' attorney, Jim Jimmerson, said, "This case is about the independence of the judiciary over the bullying of the district attorney's office." Former DA David Roger, who took the stand yesterday, said about dealing with the situation as it arose, "All I wanted to do was get out of Dodge. I was 30 days from retirement." (But he also wanted to do the right thing.) Finally, it came out that in an email to one of the judge's assistants, Willardsen said Judge Jones was "freaking hot." (Might that explain how he made an appearance in the comments on our Lawyer Hot post earlier this year?)

For some interesting opinions from the public, see the comments at the RJ. What do you think? Is this being handled the right way? Is this rightfully getting a lot of attention or should it be more low key? Is there anything that upsets people more about this than the fact that Jones is suspended with pay for the last year while this takes place?

The hearing continues today and throughout the week.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Leftovers

  • Judge Steven Jones finally goes before the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline today. Among those expected to testify are Judge Jennifer Togliatti and former D.A. David Roger. [RJ]
  • One of our anonymous commenters was quoted in a Las Vegas Sun article about Judge Kathleen Delaney's green robe and her basset hound decor.
  • The Supreme Court of Nevada issued several opinions last week. One of those reversed a conviction because the prosecution showed a powerpoint slide that had the defendant's booking photo with the word "GUILTY" across it. [RJ]
  • In a split decision that came back to the Court after a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court upheld the Ethics Commission's censure of a councilman. [RJ]
  • The Court also held that sealed juvenile delinquency records cannot be used in subsequent proceedings. [RJ]
  • The Court also issued an opinion reinforcing Nevada's shield law for journalists. [RJ]