Friday, February 28, 2014

Modus Operandi

  • It was quite a busy day in Carson City yesterday as the Supreme Court of Nevada ruled that if a witness uses confidential documents to refresh his memory before testifying, it constitutes a waiver of any privilege on those documents, but there is no duty to automatically turn them over. More importantly, if you're on the other side, if you want to request those documents, your request needs to be somewhat contemporaneous with the hearing. [Las Vegas Sands v. Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct.; RJ]
  • The Supreme Court also issued a ruling with regard to the fee shifting provisions of Chapter 40 when countered by rejected offers of judgment. In short, Plaintiffs' attorney's fees in Chapter 40 are not a guaranteed thing, especially when you don't recover more than an offer of judgment. [Gunderson v. D.R. Horton]
  • The Supreme Court also decided to permit another disciplinary case against suspended Judge Steven Jones, should the Commission on Judicial Discipline decide to proceed.  The legal takeaway is that due process rights generally do not attach during the investigatory phase of judicial discipline in order to allow the investigation to go forth unimpeded. The narrative take away is that Jones faces more allegations, which are distinct from the ones that have kept him in the news the last few years, stemming from a complaint that Jones first learned of in 2010. The complaint contains several allegations including that Jones encouraged court employees to do business with convicted ex-felons (not sure what is wrong with that without more details); tried to convince his bailiff that the Judge was entitled to a portion of the bailiff's disability retirement payout; that Jones was involved in an intimate relationship with an extern and later allowed her to appear in court before him without disclosing their prior relationship or recusing himself; and that Judge Jones misappropriated marijuana evidence from an ongoing case. [Jones v. Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline; RJ]
  • The HOA scandal case is finally set to go before a jury on October 6, 2014. [RJ]
  • Not surprisingly, potential jurors' excuses for getting out of jury duty don't always hold water. (Bonus points if anyone knows which criminal defense attorney claimed to be wearing a polyester suit when a juror claimed she was allergic to wool.) [Las Vegas Sun]

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Alms For The Poor

In honor of those about to complete the February version of the Nevada Bar exam today, let's help them manage their salary expectations. Obviously, salary will depend on a number of factors, so let's just focus on what the minimum salary a first year lawyer in any field of law should expect to earn in Las Vegas. As for the other factors, feel free to discuss those in the comments.

What is the minimum salary a first year lawyer in Las Vegas should expect?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Never Gonna Give You Up

  • New information has come to light that shows Las Vegas Township constable John Bonaventura, whose office is scheduled to be abolished at the end of his term, started trying to get the position on the ballot as early as last July. Bonaventura recently filed with the Supreme Court to get on the ballot. [RJ]
  • Here's an RJ piece on the upcoming federal trial of suspended Judge Steven Jones, which suggests that some people who would otherwise be witnesses are keeping mum thinking that Jones may return to the bench someday.
  • Here's a look at the local organization "Veterans in Politics International" and some thoughts on why a judicial candidate may or may not want its endorsement. It begs the question, how important are organizational endorsements in judicial campaigns?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Just Another Tuesday

  • Thanks to the reminder in the comments yesterday, we're all now aware that the February Bar Exam commences today! 
  • Ostensibly to free up officers for other duties, starting on March 3, Metro will stop responding to non-injury accidents. [Las Vegas Sun; RJ]
  • Speaking of Metro, did you know Mall Cop: Blart 2 is going to film in Las Vegas? [RJFox5Vegas]
  • Republican Lieutenant Governor candidates Mark Hutchison and Sue Lowden went head to head on Ralston Reports last night. The winner according to Ralston: Lucy Flores. [RJ]
  • For those of you still curious, it appears Gerry Zobrist did start his prison sentence sometime earlier this year. The Bureau of Prisons inmate locator shows him with a release date of May 6, 2020.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Stir It Up

  • No bail for a man indicted for pointing a laser point at Metro police helicopters. [RJ]
  • Fennemore Craig Jones Vargas attorneys Richard Jost and Joe Brown have created a new practice group at their firm on Aviation, Aerospace, and Autonomous Systems. [RJ]
  • Chris Collins, executive director of Las Vegas Police Protective Association, asks in the union's publication Vegas Beat whether Metro's manpower shortage was intentionally created to try and pass the More Cops tax. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Who will get to Nevada's gay marriage ban first--the legislature or the U.S. Supreme Court? [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Arizona legislators passed bill that would allow business owners to refuse service to same-sex couples based on the business owner's religious beliefs. [Fox5Vegas]
  • Attorney General candidate Adam Laxalt has a fundraising event in Washington, D.C. tonight. [Ralston Reports]

Friday, February 21, 2014

Judicial Schmoozers

Ah, election year! There's nothing quite like it when it comes to filling your inbox with invites to "exclusive" fundraising events. There's also nothing quite like it when it comes to creating ethical dilemmas for those of us uncomfortable with grabbing a drink, schmoozing with a judge, and then writing a check to get them reelected. Obviously, Nevada has decided that this is the process it wants and so we live with it, but how do you and your firm deal with it?

Do you attend these fundraising events? Does your firm sponsor these events? Do you contribute to campaigns? Which judges' events do you make sure you attend? Do you attend the events of their opponents just in case? What do you do when one of your former colleagues decides to run for judge and then asks for your support? Do you worry about contributing and then later appearing before the judge who benefitted from your contribution?

Thursday, February 20, 2014


  • Family Court Judge William "Bill" Gonzalez, who is up for election and facing Denise Gentile this fall, announced that one of the marshals who has been working for him (and was allegedly involved in the groping scandal) is no longer employed in his court. [RJ; 8NewsNow]
  • Here's a profile on Nicholas Perrino, a judicial candidate running for the bench in Department 20 against Judge Jerome Tao. [RJ]
  • The U.S. Attorney's office is taking aim at doctors who overprescribe. Accidental prescription overdose was the leading cause of death in Clark County in 2012, beating homicides, suicides, and fatal car accidents combined. [8NewsNow]
  • The Nevada Policy Research Institute is suing the State of Nevada to stop distribution of $10 million in catalyst funds. [RJ]
  • Another Nevada Department of Corrections inmate has died in custody...[RJ]

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Figure Skating

  • The Nevada Resort Association and Nevada Restaurant Association are teaming up to take on patent trolls. [Ralston Reports]
  • Although judicial election news is a little slow while campaigns gear up, it doesn't mean things aren't heating up. Apparently, there was a recent incident between competing campaign managers Johnny Jackson and Dave Thomas that required Judge Bill Kephart to step in to keep it from escalating. The article also includes allegations that Thomas, who is married to Judge Nancy Allf, intimidates new candidates and tells them not to run for departments where he has a candidate. [Las Vegas Tribune]
  • The Clark County Coroner ruled that Lisa Willardson's death was an accident and the result of acute combined drug intoxication. [RJ]
As a reminder, if you are facing issues with addiction or depression and need help now, call Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers at 866-828-0022 or 775-322-2154.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Billing Rates

Since yesterday's post mentioning billing rates for two local firms seemed to raise the question, we'll open it up a little wider today. What rate does your firm charge? If you're a plaintiff firm, is it strictly a percentage? If your firm has an hourly rate, is it a mixed rate depending on the lawyer or the same across the whole firm? Does anyone use a flat monthly rate? For you associates, do you even know how you're firm does billing or is it top secret?

Monday, February 17, 2014

President's Day 2014

Here's a couple of stories for those of you "working" today:

  • Pet shop owner Gloria Lee was indicted by a grand jury for arson charges, along with 27 counts of animal cruelty--one for each puppy inside the shop at the time. [RJ]
  • Ever wonder what other firms charge as an hourly rate. This article on an ongoing legal battle between Clark County and the Southern Nevada Health District reveals that (on this case) Marquis Aurbach & Coffing bill $210/hr while Kolesar & Leatham are billing $160/hr for partners and $130/hr for associates. [RJ]
  • Nevada AG Catherine Cortez-Masto announced a $6 million settlement with Lender Processing Services, Inc. [RJ]
  • Here's a nice piece on Melissa Waite, a Boyd grad and new partner at Jolley Urga Woodbury & Little. [RJ]

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bobsleighing Into Your Heart

  • The federal trial for suspended Judge Steven Jones, which was set for March 4, has been continued to June 3, to allow defense lawyers more time to process the voluminous amount of evidence gathered by the FBI. [RJ]
  • U.S. District Judge James Mahan dismissed a federal suit regarding patient dumping, but (surprise!) the ACLU says this isn't over yet. [RJ; Las Vegas Sun]
  • The Supreme Court of Nevada ruled yesterday that domestic battery is a "petty offense" that does not trigger the 6th Amendment right to a trial by jury. [RJ]
  • Since certain property owners are unable to be contacted and moving the bus stop down the street is too dangerous because it would require pedestrians to cross the street, County Commissioner Susan Brager suggests eminent domain might be the only solution to creating a safer bus stop on Spring Mountain Road. [8NewsNow]
  • Today is Valentine's Day. Did you remember? 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

They Just Can't Quit

  • Suspended Judge Steven Jones, who recently learned that he will have to forego 3 WHOLE MONTHS of pay due to his one mistake in 25 years of service, has decided to appeal the without pay portion of that punishment since he is still on suspension related to pending federal charges. The appeal is Supreme Court case number 64934 and you can already view the Commission on Judicial Discipline's Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Imposition of Discipline if you haven't seen it. [RJ]
  • In other news of people who can't seem to figure out when to quit, Las Vegas Township Constable John Bonaventura, whose office is being abolished by County Commissioners on January 4, 2015, is asking the Supreme Court to help get him on the ballot. Clark County does not intend to have an election for Las Vegas Township Constable, but Bonaventura is arguing that they can't abolish the office until he decides to abdicate the throne not run for office or is defeated in a reelection campaign. His briefing is available in Supreme Court case number 63104. [RJ]
  • For what it's worth, Republican candidates for Lieutenant-Governor, Sue Lowden and Mark Hutchison, both agree with the decision by Governor Sandoval and AG Cortez-Masto on to withdraw its defense of the State's ban on gay marriage. [RJ]
  • The DA's office will no longer use the full names of the victims of sex crimes in court documents after someone realized this stuff shows up on Google. Welcome to the 21st century! [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Another week, another announcement of the death of a Nevada inmate...[Las Vegas Sun]

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


  • City and county attorneys struggling with the dilemma of advising their clients on how to set up medical marijuana dispensaries are seeking a change in the Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.2 so they can give advice on act that is criminal under federal law. [RJ]
  • The Clark County Detention Center begins a four year renovation project on March 1. [RJ]
  • Attorney General candidate Adam Laxalt says he would defend Nevada's ban on same-sex marriage. His opponent Ross Miller supports the actions current AG Catherine Cortez-Masto. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • United States Attorney General Eric Holder wants Nevada and 10 other states to restore voting rights to ex-felons. [RJ]

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


  • Nevada's Attorney General, Catherine Cortez-Masto, filed a motion yesterday to withdraw the State's brief in support of Nevada's constitutional defense of marriage amendment. Through his office, former federal judge/present governor Brian Sandoval supported her actions and said the law "is no longer defensible in court." [Las Vegas Sun; RJ]
  • Here's a chicken or the egg type question--does Betsy choose the cases that create the headlines or do the case that create the headlines choose her. Either way, another Judge Gonzalez ruling made the news yesterday when she ruled that a jury should learn that a woman who is charged with attempted murder of her son, shot and killed her estranged husband 20 years ago. In an interesting twist, her son's testimony at age 11 helped her get an acquittal with her self-defense claim back then. [RJ]
  • 14 people tested positive for latent tuberculosis at Coronado High School after exposure last November. [Fox5Vegas]
  • Metro police helicopter pilots say if you see their chopper circling your neighborhood over and over at night, they are looking for a bad guy on the run and it's probably not a good idea to be out in your backyard...[8NewsNow]

Monday, February 10, 2014


  • The State Bar has officially taken steps to disbar Barry Levinson (who agreed to be disbarred as part of a plea deal). [RJ]
  • Judge Peggy Leen warns UMC that if they don't get serious about responding to discovery requests, she'll appoint a special master and she knows a lot of $pecialized lawyer$ in New York and $an Franci$co. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Assemblywoman/attorney Lucy Flores' profile continues to rise, along with the will she/won't she run for lieutenant governor banter. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Any of you watching the Sochi Olympics?

Friday, February 7, 2014

In Just One Easy Step...

Thanks to a column by Judge Togliatti in the most recent Communique, we recently (re)discovered that the Eighth Judicial District Court has its own blog! Though sporadically updated, it's a nice thought. It's a simple, cost-effective method for the Court to communicate with the public. (Whether it's working or being used to its full potential is up for debate.)

It got us thinking, what is one easy and inexpensive thing/policy/rule/sign/etc. that our local courts could do to improve the system. You know--the kind of thing that you think why don't they just ________ and all our lives would be easier?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Slowly But Surely

  • Clark County and the City of Las Vegas have set the administrative wheels in motion on medical marijuana licensing and zoning regulations. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Tom Pitaro, attorney for alleged pet store arsonist Gloria Lee, had the first (of what promises to be many) run-in with animal rights activists outside the RJC yesterday. [RJ]
  • Judge Adair decided not to overturn the conviction of a man who may have the subject of a family court marshal beat down in a dead-spot on the close circuit cameras. [RJ]
  • The Supreme Court heard oral argument on a construction defect/class action suit related to Sun City Summerlin that originated in 2003. Anyone know what the longest pending case in Nevada is? [RJ]

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Abuse, Addiction, & Mental Health

A year ago, the Supreme Court of Nevada issued ADKT 478 which amends Supreme Court rule 210 by requiring all active Nevada attorneys to take a minimum of one CLE hour every three years on substance abuse, addiction, and/or mental health issues. If you're an active Nevada attorney, you're very aware of why this requirement was added. Although it is only a small step toward treating some of the major problems faced by our profession, we fully support it.

For those of you who haven't already fulfilled the AAMH CLE requirement, an opportunity is coming up on February 19, 2014, when the Young Lawyers Section of the Bar presents "The Impact of Depression and Addiction on Professional Competence." We hope you'll consider attending and encourage your colleagues to attend. These type of CLEs don't only fulfill requirements--they can also have a positive impact on your life and the lives of those people around you.

Finally, if you or a colleague is facing issues with addiction or depression and need help now, call Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers at 866-828-0022 or 775-322-2154.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

And Justice For All.

  • The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline issued its decision on Judge Steven Jones, censuring him and then, to show they really mean business, suspending him WITHOUT pay for three whole months. The Commission's reason for the light sentence: his lack of prior disciplinary record and his otherwise exemplary service as a judge for over 20 years. The public, subjected to the long drawn-out Jones drama and forced to pay his salary while he was suspended WITH pay is outraged and upset at what they see as a crooked, broken system (if you believe the commenters). The RJ reports that Jones is not expected to return to the bench unless he is cleared of federal charges related to alleged investment fraud. Which means another eight months of effective paid vacation. Meanwhile, no word yet of the coroner's investigation into the death of Lisa Willardson. [RJ; Las Vegas Sun]
  • Attorney Barry Levinson pleaded guilty to federal charges related to his involvement in the HOA scandal as part of a plea deal to resolve all of his federal criminal charges (including recent charges for stealing money from clients). As part of the deal, Levinson agreed to disbarment (a grateful public thanks the AUSA that included that as part of the deal). Sentencing is May 6 and prosecutors will be seeking at least two years of prison time which will run concurrently with any time he is sentenced to related to the state theft charges. [RJ]
  • The Nevada Supreme Court put a controversial new sex offender law on hold while it sorts out the constitutionality of it. [RJ]
  • To quote one of our commenters, "it was a dump, but it was our dump" (which we traded in for something soon to be just as dumpy)--the old Clark County Courthouse is finally being demolished. [RJ]

Monday, February 3, 2014

Exhausting Appeals

Last week a panel of the Nevada State Bar disciplinary panel recommended that attorney and political powerbroker Harvey Whittemore  keep his law license until the appeals of his three felony convictions for violating campaign finance laws. The panel's recommendation will go to the Supreme Court of Nevada who will decide whether to accept that recommendation, continue to suspend his license, or disbar him.

What do you think? Did the panel get it right? Should an attorney convicted of three felonies be permitted to continue practicing until all appeals are exhausted?