Friday, January 31, 2014

Sanctioning Nevada


  • As someone mentioned in the comments, it's been a bad week for Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. After having been pushed into considering whether to withdraw her office's opposition to a suit regarding Nevada's ban on gay marriage, yesterday she learned that she and her office (and thereby all of us) were being sanctioned to an as-of-yet-undetermined amount, but likely a high six or seven figure. Judge Elizabeth (Betsy) Gonzalez took the unusual step of sanctioning the AG's office to pay the legal expenses of Lender Processing Services, Inc. after the office failed to produce evidence that would support claims it brought against that entity in December 2011. Gonzales, who is not afraid to make big decisions that get national headlines (see anything regarding the CityCenter case), recently found out that her seat on the bench will not be contested this year. Masto, who has served two terms as AG, cannot run for reelection this year because of term limits. [Forbes; RJ]
  • DA Steve Wolfson filed a request for an Order to Show Cause Thursday to get judicial candidate Ross Smillie to show why he should not be disqualified as a candidate for failing to meet the years of practice requirement for district court judges. [RJ]
  • Continuing a trend that started last year, two Nevada inmates died in the States's custody this week... [Las Vegas Sun]
  • As Bitcoin starts to catch on in Vegas, are any of your firms taking Bitcoin as payment? [Fox5Vegas]

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Withdrawn


  • Suspended Judge Steven Jones officially withdrew as a candidate for reelection. [RJ]
  • In other judicial candidate withdrawal news, a couple last minute filers withdrew their candidacy before the deadline, meaning Judges Betsy Gonzales and Gloria Sturman no longer have to worry about an election campaign. This begs the question, what happened? 
  • Not wanting to be left out, Governor Sandoval and the AG's office had a change of plan and withdrew Nevada's opposition to a lawsuit challenging Nevada's ban on gay marriage. [RJ]
  • The 911 call from when Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman was found in a park restroom was released and reveals that the guy who found him said he "passed out, vomiting, and bleeding.  Like he was maybe running." [Fox5Vegas]
  • In news from the Never-Ending Story HOA Scandal, federal prosecutors want to go to trial no later than September while defense attorneys don't want to start any earlier than January 2015. As a point of reference, the HOA investigation first became public knowledge in 2008. [RJ]

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Highly Recommended Mediators

Today's topic is simple. When others ask for your recommendation on a Las Vegas mediator, who do you recommend? Is your recommendation limited to a specific area of law? What are your thoughts on using vultures Californians? What do you think about the mediators who show up on the list for mandatory mediations in court? Do you prefer a mandatory settlement conference before a judge over local mediators?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

It Only Takes One


  • Facing the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline yesterday, Judge Steven Jones stated he was remorseful for making one mistake in his 25 years of service and will be withdrawing his bid for reelection. While that seems like the right thing to do, one wonders why it took him so long to come to that conclusion. After a day full of testimony from witnesses testifying about the negative impact his "mistake" had on the family court, a decision from the Commission on his punishment could take several days. [8NewsNow; RJ]
  • Five Boulder City residents, represented by Tracy and Linda Strickland, were validated by the Supreme Court of Nevada yesterday when the Court upheld their claim that a suit against them by the city was a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). [RJ]
  • Attorney Chris Reade, who pleaded guilty to money laundering last week, faces up to 10 years in prison. [Courthouse News Service]
  • If you or your clients had property in the fabled, but now-bankrupt, 24-7 private vaults, Attorney/Trustee Brian Shapiro is setting up times for owners to obtain their valuables (they will have to go through the eye scan, know the code, have keys to the safe, and sign a document at the end indicating their safe is empty). If you need to set up a time, email Brian Shapiro directly or call him at (702) 386-8600.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Matter Of Interpretation


  • The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline meets today the consequences for Judge Steven Jones after special prosecutors provided clear and convincing evidence on 8 of 12 charges against him. [RJ]
  • Remember Ross Smillie? The judicial candidate who had filed to run against Judge Jessie Walsh and then switched to face Judge Michael Villani? Well, he may regret that move because Judge Villani has decided to challenge his viability as a candidate on the basis that Smillie does not meet the 10 year requirement of NRS 3.060. According to the challenge, Smillie was admitted in Nevada in 1987 and went on inactive status immediately until 2009 and didn't practice here or anywhere else during that time. Since the article has no comment from Smillie, we'll file this one as developing... but what do you think? [RJ]
  • The CityCenter case sees the possibility of settlement; the April trial date is not happening; and the five-year rule may be coming into play soon. [RJ]
  • One local pundit's lengthy take on the Governor and Attorney General's tactics in dealing with gay marriage in Nevada. [Ralston Reports]
  • The State Bar of Nevada has established a "Civility Task Force." Chairman of the task force, judicial candidate Richard Scotti says the task force "will first determine if there is a problem..." LOL. Good one. [RJ]

Friday, January 24, 2014

Trust Us. We're Lawyers.


  • A 30th defendant pleaded guilty on charges related to the never-ending HOA scandal. Don't worry, it wasn't a lawyer this time. [RJ]
  • Onion, the dog that killed a little boy, will be released to an animal rights group in exchange for him leaving the state, never being around children, and putting up a memorial for the boy who died. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • The State Bar dropped its investigation of Clark County School District lawyer Carlos McDade. McDade was under investigation because two members of the school board broke Nevada law while acting under his advice. [RJ]
  • A private vault business, the one where you get a safe without providing any real identifying information, has filed for bankruptcy. Now a lawyer, Brian Shapiro, gets to sort out trying to contact the unknown people. [8NewsNow]
  • Polls are showing there's a chance Nevada might finally get a Court of Appeals later this year. [RJ]

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Your Money Is Clean, Sir.


  • Another week in Las Vegas and another attorney pleading guilty to a financial crime. This time the spotlight is on R. Christopher Reade, who faced a felony charge tied to a money laundering scheme involving a former client. Reade put his attorney status on inactive, but bar counsel indicates they'll seek to suspend it until the bar takes action. Two questions for you: what kind of sentence will he be facing at the May 2 sentencing hearing and what is going on with his firm (looks like they changed their name already). [RJ]
  • We got a tip that Judge Johnson awarded a disproportionate amount of attorney's fees to several plaintiff's firms in a plumbing case last week. Anyone got the details?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Just Keep Running


  • The Nevada Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether city council members who want to run for mayor (in this case of Reno) are barred by term limits since they would be in the same governing body. Expect a ruling before March when the candidate filing period closes. [RJ]
  • The tax increase for "More Cops" failed to get the approval of the Clark County Commissioners for a third time. Though perhaps it would have passed in part had two of the commissioners who supported the measure not walked out immediately after the first vote. [RJ]
  • The federal HOA scandal investigation/prosecution is still ongoing, but with lots of secrecy...with attorneys filing motions to seal their motions to seal. [RJ]
  • Judge Susan Johnson ruled that the City of North Las Vegas couldn't use financial crises as the basis for freezing the salaries of first responders by suspending their bargain rights. [Las Vegas Sun]

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

MLK, Jr. Day 2014

This was going to include a poll question, but it's not working for some reason. Instead, we'll just open it up to your input in the comments.

What do you think about firms that remain open on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Observed) despite the fact that both state and federal courts are closed? Is it racist to be open or just insensitive? If you were in charge, what would your firm do on this January holiday?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lawyer's Row

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Observed)! Although the courts are closed, we know more than a few firms that ignore this national holiday and keep the office open. For those of you in the office instead of out attending the parade, doing service, or shopping for great deals on furniture, here are a few items to discuss:

  • You can view the final list of people who registered to be a judicial candidate here.  To borrow the words of the RJ, the two Supreme Court justices and 21 Clark County District Court judges who drew no challengers should be celebrating their "free ride." What do you think? Any big surprises? Anything more inexplicable than Ross Smillie withdrawing from running against Jessie Walsh (where he at least had a chance) to against Michael Villani (where has practically no chance)? Is there really a method to the madness into which departments the family court candidates decided to file? Any incumbents that you think should start packing their bags now?
  • Here's a carefully crafted piece on Attorney General candidate Adam Laxalt and his past drinking problem. This is his first campaign, but it seems like he already knows the dance.
  • News Flash. Lawyers have made a home downtown. A punny lede for an article about one of our legal community's proudest features: Lawyer's Row (houses). [Vegas Inc.]
  • A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling means that bloggers get the same First Amendment protection as journalists when sued for defamation. [RJ]
  • DREAM JOB ALERT! Well, at least for some of you. The Nevada Athletic Commission is looking for a new executive director after its previous one steps down to return to the practice of law. [Unclassified Job Announcement]

Friday, January 17, 2014

Last Call For Judicial Candidates!


  • Today is the last day for 2014 judicial candidates to file. You can see who has already filed here. A list of current judges and department numbers is here. Yesterday gave us over 10 filings including: Bill Skupa and John Watkins for already crowded Department 2; Chris Rasmussen for Department 11 31 20 (must have been a typo on his initial application right?); Joe Hardy for Department 24; Susan Bush for Department 28; Ellen Bezian for Department B; Jack Howard for Department C; Travis Shetler for Department E; James Stuart for Department M; David Ford and Nathan Gibbs for Department P; Ross Smillie for Department 10; and last, but certainly not least, Craig Friedberg has stepped up to the plate against Judge Stephanie Miley in Department 23. We're sure there will be more filings today and encourage some of the candidates for open departments where 3 or more people have filed to consider running against sitting judges. Not only could it increase your odds of election, but even if you lose, you will have given people an option for holding certain sitting judges accountable.  
  • President Obama nominated Richard F. Boulware II for a federal judgeship yesterday. Boulware is an assistant attorney at the Federal Public Defender's Office and, if confirmed, will (go where Judge Cadish was unable to and) take the seat of Judge Phillip Pro. [RJ]
  • An anthrax hoax resulted in the evacuation of the Nevada Supreme Court yesterday afternoon. [RJ]
  • The Nevada Taxicab Authority is trying a new technique to curb long-hauling. [Fox5Vegas]

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Job Tips: What Should You Ask In An Interview?

Dissatisfied with Flintstone & Associates' ability to deliver on their promises of a large year-end bonus and raise, Wilma decided to apply for other jobs. She just received a call from Slaghoople & Slate who want her to come in for an interview next week. The HR person told her that the interview process will consist of Wilma meeting individually with three associates/junior partners, followed by one interview with either Mrs. Slaghoople or Mr. Slate. Wilma hasn't been on an interview since she got out of law school and needs your advice on what kind of questions she should ask at the interview.

What do you think? What kind of questions are appropriate to ask a potential employer? What's on your list of things to be sure to ask? Is it okay to ask the associates for more gory details or should you have the same line of questioning prepared for both associates and partners? Is there anything you shouldn't ask?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

So Unpredictable!


  • Already suspended attorney Barry Levinson has been charged with stealing over $1 million from clients. For those of you who don't recall, a year ago Levinson was indicted for his involvement in the HOA scandal. Before that, he was already under investigation by the State Bar who didn't have a handle on the amount of money misappropriated other than "it is likely tens of thousands of dollars." Along with the news that the amount alleged is over $1 million comes the news that he is the Nevada record holder for most client grievances with 128. [RJ]
  • Surprise! Suspended with pay Judge Steven Jones has decided to file for reelection. If he is allowed to run, he will face competition from four challengers. [RJ]
  • The Clark County School District, the subject of a lawsuit for an alleged coverup by its police department regarding a drunk driving death by a drunken teenager who had been at a party with off-duty CCSD officers, has already incurred over $400,000 in legal bills on its defense and looks to incur more since Magistrate Judge Larry Hicks removed the $50,000 damages cap normally in place on suits against public entities. [8NewsNow]
  • The Nevada Department of Corrections waited two months until after the death of one its inmates to request an autopsy. The law requires the DOC to request autopsies for inmates that die in their care, which seems to have become an increasing occurrence over the last few months. [Las Vegas Sun]

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Born To Run


  • At a luncheon in Reno today, Adam Laxalt (of Lewis Roca & Rothgerber) will announce his candidacy for attorney general of Nevada. [RJ]
  • As mentioned in the comments yesterday, Tony Liker (erstwhile star of Ultimate Las Vegas Justice) is running for Judge Bixler's empty bench in Department 24. That means to date, there are only 4 contested races for District Court, 6 contested races in Family Court, and 1 contested race for Justice Court. In other words, no one has stepped up to challenge any of the district court judges who got a do not retain the RJ Judicial Evaluation (Leavitt, Smith, and Walsh) or who are otherwise not judicially qualified (insert name here).
  • The Family Court hits keep on coming. New allegations of Steve Rushfield covering up another marshal's groping of two teenage girls in 2010 surfaced yesterday. [RJ]
  • Changes in IRS policy make it unlikely that you will be seeing an automatic gratuity on parties of 6 or more when you go out to eat. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • A Las Vegas man killed his wife, went to the police station, signed in, and waited 20 minutes before being called to confess the murder. [8NewsNow]
  • The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case on Nevada's "None of the above" election option meaning you'll continue to have a way to throw away your vote in the next statewide election. [Fox5Vegas]

Monday, January 13, 2014

Make More Opportunities Than You Find


  • Surprisingly, given the amount of complaining, there have been few challengers who have filed to run against sitting District Court judges. One of you says the challengers are coming, but time is running short.
  • Harvey Whittemore, who was convicted last year for campaign finance law violations, asked a Nevada State Bar disciplinary panel for leniency because he thought his actions were "absolutely authorized." [RJ]
  • The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks and said that a woman can sue the North Las Vegas Police Department for killing her dogs. [RJ]
  • The RJC security doors issue has been fixed, but the doors still need to be replaced due to "wear and tear." [RJ]
  • Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, is stepping down from the $95,000 a year position he has held for the last 8 years and returning to the attorney general's office. [8NewsNow]
  • As many as 172 people have joined in a lawsuit against Summerlin Hospital for tuberculosis exposure headed up by Matthew Callister. [Fox5Vegas]
  • Does anyone know happened to Nevada Judicial Guardian's Facebook page? Someone was posting on it after the death of Lisa Willardson; now it appears to be gone.
  • Someone is asking for your advice in the comments to this post. Our response, "A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds." - Sir Francis Bacon.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Out Of The Blue


  • Police say Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman's injuries may have been from a fall in or near the restrooms in a city park. His parents, the former and current mayors of Las Vegas, still have lingering doubts about that since doctors told them they thought he had been assaulted. The good news is he is recovering from his surgery for the wounds and has filed for reelection.[8NewsNow; Las Vegas Sun]
  • The man who alleges he was the subject of a Family Court marshal beating, says it completely ruined his life. [RJ]
  • A chain of events set off by several people jumping to conclusion, led investigators to believe a Zappos employee has committed suicided downtown. When he got home and saw the police tape and that his apartment had been gone through, he realized it wasn't him. The good news for Metro, he doesn't plan to sue. [RJ]
  • Another dead inmate...but at least this one died at a hospital. [RJ]

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Finding Legal Jobs In Las Vegas 2014

 A year ago, we featured a post on resources for finding legal jobs in Las Vegas. Since January is generally a time of year when firms start hiring again and people look to make lateral jumps after receiving little or no bonus, we thought we would revisit that list of resources. Look it over and let us know if there are any resources we are missing or other tips that you think should be included.

1. Talk to people you know. This one is a line of crap from the OCS offices. No one you know ever gets you a job, unless his name is "Daddy." The most others usually do is tell you about a place to send your resume. You can certainly email your resume to people you know, but it will generally be a wasted effort other than to let them know you're looking. Some of your best chances are to apply to posted jobs. That said, leave no stone unturned and take advantage of every leg up you're given.
 
2. UNLV OCS. Primarily for UNLV alum. Probably not too many jobs you cannot find elsewhere. Talk to a Boyd grad and they'll hook you up.

3. NVBar.org. Click on "For Lawyers," then "Find a Job."Or just click here. This is a good source, but tends to be lightly populated--probably because employers have to pay to post listings here.
 
4. Lasvegas.Craigslist.org/lgl. Pretty self explanatory. Use your brain when applying to jobs here. According to our sources, some of these listings are just other job seekers trying to find out the going rate.
 
5. Indeed.com. This site is probably the best general aggregator of legal jobs. It usually picks up the jobs posted on nvbar.org and from the RJ in addition to other sources.

6. Clark County jobs. This is where you will find postings for District Attorney/County jobs.

7. http://hr.nv.gov/Sections/Recruitment/Unclassified-Non-Classified_Positions/. This is a list of Nevada State unclassified jobs, i.e. Supreme Court clerk jobs, administrative attorney jobs, etc.

8. Usajobs.com The Federal government's jobs website.

9. Recruiters. This is a hit and miss source of jobs. While we appreciate their service (and involvement in the comments of many posts here), recruiters are not always the answer. When you go through a recruiter, the firm hiring you is going to be paying them a handsome fee. What does that mean for your salary? Recruiters cannot do much for first years, it is just a fact of life. Firms do not generally pay people to find them brand new attorneys. Once you have a few years under your belt and perhaps a book of business, recruiters can be useful. Go ahead and send your resume to recruiters though. The worst that can happen is they will let you know about jobs for which you may qualify.

10. Casino HR websites (Wynn, MGM, Caesars, etc).

What else? Let us know in the comments. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chomping At The Bit


  • A total of 66 candidates (mostly incumbents) filed for the 2014 judicial election yesterday (or in the pre-filing period leading up to yesterday). So far, there is a candidate in every department up for election except Department 10 (Jessie Walsh) and Justice Court Department 11 (Eric Goodman). There are not yet very many challengers. The RJ made a list of everyone that filed or you can go directly to the Clark County candidate filing site to view the registration details.
  • Lisa Willardson's campaign manager speculates that her death was an accident and says she had been having trouble sleeping. The article's title says "Colleague files lawsuit to clear late prosecutor's name," but offers no details. Anyone know what's up? [MyNews3]
  • New video has surfaced which attorney Chris Rasmussen says shows that his client was not out of control before receiving a family court marshal beat-down. Not surprisingly, the incident involved Steve Rushfield and from the looks of the video, about 8 or 9 other family court marshals. There is no video of the actual incident--only the before and after since it took place in a private hallway that is a surveillance camera dead spot. [RJ]
  • Justice Sotomayor puts gay marriage in Utah on hold to allow the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to consider the issue. [Fox5Vegas]
  • Another Nevada inmate died over the weekend. Granted, he was 86 years old, but the article says this is at least the seventh death at that prison since October... [Las Vegas Sun]

Monday, January 6, 2014

Off To The Races


  • Clark County Judicial Candidate Filing for the November 2014 election officially opens today and continues through January 17, 2014. Are you ready to run? Did you convince your friends to run? Are any of you sitting on the fence waiting to see what kind of talent pool is dredged up before entering the fray? Once filings get going, it looks like this link might keep us updated.
  • Nevada Supreme Court justices Mark Gibbons and Kris Pickering are both planning to file for reelection today. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • "Intermittent" security problems that have persisted for three months at the RJC (at least that's how long court administrators have known about them) with a specific problem area being a set of double doors on the south end of the building that would have allowed unmitigated access to chambers without the required security cards. [RJ]
  • Despite the passage of time and the death of David Jin, legal battles surrounding the Grand Canyon Skywalk and Hualapai tribe are still ongoing. [RJ]
  • Anyone taking advantage of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program? [8NewsNow]
  • With the New Year, Nevada became the 11th state to offer driver authorization cards to immigrants who are not in the country legally. An estimated 75% of those applying for the cards are failing the written portion of the test. [MyNews3]

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Judging the Judges

As many of you already noticed, the RJ released the results of its 2013 Judicial Performance Evaluation. As a new feature this year, the report includes the number of times the civil/criminal district court judges received a peremptory challenge over the first nine months of 2013, a number that some people believe to be far more reliable in determining who to retain in this November's judicial election. Leading the pack with 42 peremptory challenges is Judge Ron Israel (who still managed to have 61% of those surveyed recommend retaining him); not far behind is Judge Jessie Walsh with 39 (down from 93 in 2011 and 48 in 2012--by the way, only 42% say retain her); followed by Judges Gloria Sturman and Jerry Wiese, each with 27; Judge Nancy Allf rounds out the top 5 with 25 peremptory challenges.

Not to be outdone, family court has its own leaders in the peremptory challenge category with three judges--Gayle Nathan, Kenneth Pollock, and Sandra Pomerenze--accounting for over half of all peremptory challenges in family court. Since taking the bench in January 2011, Judge Nathan has been the subject of 200 peremptory challenges. The good news is that her number has decreased each year. Even better news? For fiscal year 2013, these peremptory challenges generated a total of $319,050 in fees!

Did you see anything else remarkable about the results of the survey? Are there any conclusions we should draw based on these results? Are you surprised by any of the results?