Friday, August 29, 2014

Here Comes Labor Day!


  • Former US Attorney for Nevada Lawrence Semenza II pleaded guilty to failing to file federal individual and corporate tax returns. [RJ]
  • The Clark County Public Defender's office has asked a judge to overturn a 2012 murder conviction because prosecutors didn't reveal they paid rent for witnesses. Witnesses, who allegedly, changed their testimony unexpectedly... [RJ]
  • The City of Reno reluctantly decided to pay its bill to the Las Vegas office of Fisher & Phillips. [RGJ]
  • Although the NHL denied that a team in Vegas is a done deal, it has been revealed that the frontrunner for buying a team here would be producer Jerry Bruckheimer and it would likely be based at the new MGM/AEG arena-the only proposed arena that is definitely being built. [NYRangersBlog]

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Down The Road

As we get ready to head into Labor Day weekend, we are quickly approaching the fall general election and you know what that means! Election time! Judicial campaigns are gearing up again for that final push--which means they're also making a final fundraising push so they can afford to put a sign on every corner in town. We want to know what you're hearing about the election! Are any of the sitting judges making a desperate push for fundraising? Are there going to be any big bombshells dropped in the judicial elections--any October surprises? Has something you've heard convinced you to change your mind about who you'll be voting for this fall? Are you campaigning for any judges? Do you have their signs in your yard? In the coming weeks we'll be looking at all the contests and giving you another chance to weigh in on who should be elected.

Also, for those of you who want something else to talk about:

  • the proposed soccer stadium deal is all about tricking the public into thinking we're not paying for it when we really are. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Medical marijuana shops on Las Vegas Blvd. will be getting a waiver from the neon sign requirement. [RJ]
  • Matt Callister is representing insurance brokers suing the Silver State Insurance Exchange for insurance commissions they didn't get. Wait, isn't Callister also representing people who couldn't get insurance? [RJ]
  •  The headline says it all. "Women stole Rolexes from tourists, hid them in their bodies." [Las Vegas Sun]

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Prevarication


  • Stephen "Bowtie" Stubbs just got benchslapped by a federal judge in Arizona. In the August 25, 2014, order issued by Judge Paul B. Rosenblatt in case No. CV-13-08192-PCT-PGR, the senior status judge deftly denied Stubb's Motion for Rule 60(b) relief on behalf of Plaintiff Sons of Hell Motorcycle Club. He wrote:
Not only is Mr. Stubbs’ failure to understand and abide by applicable procedural rules
“one of the least compelling excuses that can be offered” to support a Rule 60(b)
motion, Pincay, 389 F.3d at 859; see also, Dela Rosa v. Scottsdale Memorial Health
Systems, Inc
., 136 F.3d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir.1998) (“The fact that an attorney’s
federal practice is rare or infrequent, however, is no excuse for ignoring the rules of
[the] court.”), the plaintiffs’ underlying contention that Mr. Stubbs “is new to Federal
procedures and duties of civil procedure when a motion is filed by another party” is
at the very least a prevarication that represents an unacceptable lack of candor.
  • Judicial candidate Jacob Hafter is keeping himself in the news by asking federal prosecutors in Nevada to take over an investigation into the shooting of a man by BLM officials at Red Rock earlier this year. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • The ACLU of Nevada wants the Attorney General to issue an opinion on the Clark County DA's practice of paying rent for witnesses. [RJ]
  • It looks like the strongest contenders to be Las Vegas' first major league team will be either from the NHL or MLS. Yesterday, it was announced that the City has reached a deal with a private partnership to build a downtown soccer stadium provided that the MLS award a team to Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated is reporting that NHL expansion to Las Vegas is a 'done deal.' 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Restaurant Week


  • Attorney David Phillips is facing investigation from the State Bar on seven grievances, including one from Judge Elissa Cadish. Phillips is also facing a federal civil lawsuit seeking $10 million in damages stemming from allegations of rape at a legal conference. [RJ]
  • The City of Reno owes the Las Vegas office of Fisher & Phillips over $172,000 in fees, but the City Council voted not to pay it. [RGJ]
  • North Las Vegas begins bulldozing blighted homes. What could possibly go wrong? [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Anyone taking advantage of the great Las Vegas Restaurant Week deals? Not only do you get good food, but it benefits a good cause. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • In case you didn't notice, school is back in session. Please remember to slow down in school zones and anywhere there are lots of pedestrians. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

On Being Of Counsel

The public is not generally aware of the internal structure of law firms. In fact, most lawyers probably aren't aware of that internal structure. Naturally, it depends on the firm, but you will have a hierarchy of attorneys that ranges from pre-bar exam associates to resident gray-haired partner. Somewhere in between those two titles are a variety of different positions. Sometimes firms actually have different levels of associates, where eventually you earn the coveted title of "Senior Associate." Some firms have multiple levels of partnership that the public is never aware about--including office partners and equity partners. Once in a while, you even get the odd firm that refers to its attorneys as "Directors."

Not to be lost among all these positions in a law firm is the mysterious title "Of Counsel." According to Wikipedia, the ABA has four different definitions for the position. What is not clear from those definitions is something some of you already began discussing in the comments last week. Is an associate who gets made "Of Counsel" to a firm getting a promotion?

After publishing Adam Laxalt's performance reviews from Lewis & Roca last week, Jon Ralston is continuing his attack on Laxalt. On his Ralston Reports blog yesterday, Ralston give his assessment of where Laxalt's campaign is headed. Among many other opinions, Ralston concludes that Laxalt is wrong to call the move from associate to "Of Counsel" as a promotion--citing the venerable online resource thefreedictionary.com. Specifically, Ralston says, "Many lawyers who understand what the term means realize it is not a "promotion" unless you consider being taken out of day-to-day legal affairs to be such."

Now the ball is in your court. We know "many lawyers" read this blog and probably understand what that term means better than your local political pundit. So, what do you think? To make it clear, the poll question below is about what you think of the move from associate to "Of Counsel" in general. This is not Laxalt, Lewis & Roca, or Ralston specific. When you hear that someone went from being an associate to "Of Counsel," what do you think? Feel free to give us further enlightenment in the comments.

Generally speaking, is it a promotion to go from the position of "Associate" to "Of Counsel?"


Friday, August 22, 2014

Painted Into A Corner


  • Lewis Roca Rothgerber issued a statement saying they are investigating the security breach that leaked Adam Laxalt's performance evaluations and that the leaked documents did not include other, more favorable evaluations--reiterating that Laxalt is welcome to return to the firm in the future. [RJ; Las Vegas Sun]
  • Here's a look at Nevada's death row through an interview with assistant federal public defender Michael Pescetta. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Whether you get busted for driving under the influence of marijuana might come down to how you perform with the drug in your system--not merely whether the drug is detected. [RJ]
  • A report suggests that Judge Vincent Ochoa lost the endorsement of the Clark County School District police officers after it came to light that he does not grant overnight visits to fathers for the first 6 months of a child's life. Any family court lawyers want to weigh in on this? [Las Vegas Tribune]
  • Thinking about performance evaluations and how horribly they can be misconstrued when summed up in a headline, how do you think your review would be summed up? Give us your best 8 word or less self-evaluations in the comments!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Just Another Thursday In Vegas


  • Yesterday, Jon Ralston (@Ralstonreports) published an article on attorney general candidate Adam Laxalt that included a summary of notes from Lewis & Roca's 2012 performance evaluation of Laxalt.  A few hours later, Ralston followed up his initial article by posting Laxalt's own self-evaulation as well as the content of reviews of Laxalt's performance by several attorneys at Lewis & Roca. We'll let you read and judge for yourselves, but to say the least, the reviews are not very flattering. Laxalt's campaign said that the summary was an "improperly and perhaps illegally leaked document" that Laxalt had not previously seen and called the authenticity into question. It also indicated he was speaking with Lewis & Roca about the release of the document. The campaign also provided a letter from the firm earlier this year which indicated Laxalt was welcome to rejoin the firm after the election. Is this the end of Laxalt's chances at AG? Was his performance evaluation fair game? Who will get fired as a result of this? Stay tuned, from what we hear, this story is just getting started. [Las Vegas Sun; RJ; RGJ)
  • Looks like District Attorney Steve Wolfson (who is up for election this fall against someone his office is prosecuting) has another witness-paying situation on his hands. If you recall, after the DA's practice of paying witnesses was brought to light last fall, Wolfson called for an audit of witness payments. No word on how his audit went, but intrepid Las Vegas legal reporter Betsy Barnes (@Betsbarnes) followed up on her initial story and learned that the DA's office has been making rent payments for witnesses and that defense attorneys may not be aware of that fact. [RJ]
  • Congrats to the Mountain Ridge Little League team who are moving on to the Little League World Series Championship game! [RJ]

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Get Knocked Down


  • Say what you want about Stephen "Bowtie" Stubbs, but the guy continues to get clients and publicity. This time Stubbs is representing the man at the center of a video showing five Metro officers struggling to restrain him/beat him at the Vanguard Lounge in June. [Las Vegas Sun; Fox5Vegas]
  • Proving they don't understand a thing about their consumers, the Nevada Transportation Authority gave the ok to 9 taxi limo companies to charge customers additional fees when they use the new "Ride Genie" app. [RJ]
  • The District Attorney's office found a July 2013 shooting by Metro officers to be reasonable and justified. [8NewsNow]
  • Nevada Attorney General candidates Ross Miller and Adam Laxalt have agreed to have their first debate on September 20 in Las Vegas. [RJ]

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Yeah Boy!


  • State Senator/Attorney Justin Jones kicked off a campaign to get universal background checks on gun sales before the public in a 2016 ballot initiative. [RJ]
  • The Cordish Cos., the company hired by the City of Las Vegas to help get it a stadium, is the subject of racial discrimination lawsuits and complaints in three states. Of course, this news was a surprise to the Mayor and City Council. Since Cordish wants public funding, will this affect Las Vegas' chance at getting a Major League Soccer team and stadium? [RJ]
  • The State Transportation Board decided to go forward with the bond/design-build version of Project Neon to expand I15 between Sahara and the Spaghetti Bowl. [8NewsNow]
  • Judge Carolyn Ellsworth closed the battery case against Flavor Flav after he completed a required domestic violence counseling course. [Las Vegas Sun]

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hello, Monday.


  • Current Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Gibbons talks about his experience serving as foreman of a jury in a criminal trial last week. [RJ
  • As the East Coast and West Coast have already been dealing with things like Airbnb and Uber, Clark County is still struggling with things like party houses. [RJ]
  • Hillary Clinton's planned speech at UNLV in October has been making a lot of headlines--first, for her $225,000 speaking fee, now because of some of the requirements on her rider. [RJ]
  • A federal jury awarded a couple $2.4 million in a breach of contract and fraud case related to the purchase of a condo near the Strip. [RJ]
  • Here's a video report on District Attorney candidate Raymond "Jim" Duensing as he fights charges being brought by the office of the job he is seeking. [Video-MyNews3; old article from RJ]
  • The Mountain Ridge little league team is finding success at the Little League World Series. Their next game will be on Wednesday against Mid-Atlantic, which features 13 year old pitching sensation Mo'ne Davis--the first girl to play throw a shutout in the Little League World Series. [Fox5Vegas]

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Topless Club Lawyers


  • Were you curious how much time the Clark County commissioners spent with lobbyists before making their decision on medical marijuana licenses? Well, here's a look at how it went down. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Six defendants in the HOA scandal have asked Judge James Mahan to delay the scheduled October 14 trial date for another six months. [RJ]
  • A former lingerie football filed a class action suit against the Legends Football League. [RJ]
  • In a preemptive strike against Uber, the Taxi Cab Authority approved app "Ride Genie" launched yesterday. [Fox5Vegas]
  • Need a new job? Clark County School District is looking for teachers. [8NewsNow; Teach Vegas]
  • Need a new practice area?  Try this one. "Topless Club Lawyers in Court Again..." Ha. [8NewsNow]

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ballot Question No. 1

Yesterday, Nevada Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty officially launched the public relations campaign to encourage voters to vote yes this fall on creating a Court of Appeals. The RJ has an article here discussing Hardesty's views on Ballot Question No. 1 (the comments section is already filling up with public reaction). Justice Hardesty also appeared on Ralston Reports last night (August 12, 2014) if you want to listen to what he has to say on the topic.

Ballot Question Number 1 says,
"Shall the Nevada Constitution be amended to create a Court of Appeals that would decide appeals of District Court decisions in certain civil and criminal cases?"  
The ballot asks voters to simply vote "Yes" or "No." If you want to see the question along with the explanation and arguments for and against as will be seen on the ballot, visit nvsos.org here.

In a nutshell, the proposed creation of Court of Appeals will give us a push-down model. All appeals will go to the Nevada Supreme Court, but a set of rules (which are presently in draft form according to Hardesty on Ralston Reports last night) will determine which cases are automatically pushed down to the Court of Appeals. In theory, the Court of Appeals would handle mostly non-high profile, error-correction cases that are unlikely to set precedent, freeing up our top jurists to issue more published written decisions. The Court of Appeals will start as a three judge panel and will be housed in the existing Supreme Court facilities at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas. A budget has already been proposed and the Court of Appeals is expected to cost about $1.5 million a year--an amount which the Supreme Court says is partially (if not fully) paid for by money it reverts to the general budget each year.

Here's your chance to weigh in on the topic. Let Nevadans know where lawyers stand on this proposal. Does Nevada really need a Court of Appeals? Detractors think this is all a ploy by lawyers to create more billable hours? Do you stand to benefit from this financially? Is there a downside that no one is seeing? Are our justices working hard to pass this just so they have more time to work on their golf swings or this truly a case of advancing the interests of justice?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Juror


  • Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Gibbons was selected to serve on the jury in a criminal trial this week. [RJ]
  • One of the defendants indicted along with suspended family court Judge Steven Jones pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Jones and the remaining defendants are scheduled to go to trial at the end of September. [RJ]
  • Attorney Robert Pool, who lost in the primary to Judge Ron Israel and Susan Bush, has accumulated over $12,000 in unpaid sanctions and fees. [RJ]
  • With the unfortunate news of the death of Robin Williams, it's a good time to remember that we're all in this together. If you need help, don't be afraid to say something. If you're worried about someone, let them know. In an AMA that he did at Reddit last year, he was asked what advice he had for people going through bad times for whatever reason. He said, "Reach out to friends. They're out there. And know that you are loved."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cold Wind In August


  • The State Senate race between Justin Jones and Becky Harris made it into the New York Times! Spoiler alert: Becky breaks her media silence to give them a quote. [NY Times]
  • In another lawyer vs lawyer political face-off, Mark Hutchison and Lucy Flores are scheduled to debate each other in their race for the coveted position of Lieutenant Governor on September 3, 2014. [RJ]
  • Community activists are seeking to oust the Taxicab Authority's administrator. [RJ]
  • A column looking at lawyer advertising tactics. [Las Vegas Tribune]
  • Nevada's Mountain Ridge All-Star Little League team has made it to the Little League World Series. [Fox5Vegas]
  • Not Nevada specific, but here's a bar type question for all you legal minds stemming from this weekend's incident with Nascar driver Tony Stewart: Is he going to face criminal charges for the on-track death of Kevin Ward, Jr. [SI

Friday, August 8, 2014

Civility

Image from the Associated Press
I was reading this story in the LVRJ about an insurance company allegedly leaving a five-figure settlement payment at the insured's attorney's office in buckets of change, when it reminded me of some of my least favorite run-ins with opposing counsel over the years. 

I'm sure you all know this already, but thanks to the Board of Governors and the State Bar's efforts, our next batch of lawyers will now have to promise to "conduct [themselves] in a civil and professional manner, whether dealing with clients, opposing parties and counsel, judicial officers or the general public," as they are sworn in to the bar.

And I'm sure you also know that Nevada's Rules of Professional Conduct has long provided that "[w]hen a lawyer knows or reasonably should know the identity of a lawyer representing an opposing party, he or she should not take advantage of the lawyer by causing any default or dismissal to be entered without first inquiring about the opposing lawyer’s intention to proceed."

However, I'm also sure most of you would agree that this new oath and the foregoing Rule of Professional Conduct still allows for quite a bit of heinous shenanigans to occur between and among our distinguished colleagues.    

Anyone want to share some of their own or overheard favorite war stories and/or advice on handling a particularly difficult adversary? 

Has anyone ever had any luck with NRS 7.085  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Disaster


  • The race for the District 9 State Senate seat pits two lawyers against each other. In one corner we have incumbent Justin Jones (D),  an attorney at Wolf Rifkin Shapiro Shulman Rabkin, who stirred up controversy in his first term sponsoring a bill for background checks on private firearm sales and transfers. His challenger, Becky Harris (R), is an attorney at Lawyers/West and is taking the unusual tactic of not talking to the media. This should be an interesting race...
  • The Nye County Sheriff candidate caught removing campaign signs faces a single misdemeanor charge of injury to property. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Former lobbyist/lawyer Harvey Whittemore finally reported to prison to begin his two-year sentence. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Spiegelworld, producer of the Vegas Nocturne show that was at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. in the Cosmopolitan, is now suing the Cosmopolitan after the show and the club unceremoniously parted ways. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Clark County commissioners declared a disaster for Mt. Charleston after the flood damage last week. The Army Corps of Engineers has proposed a berm that would probably prevent floods in the future, but it is not being built yet because no one wants the liability in the event it fails. [RJ]
  • Three women are charged with bribing guards and smuggling a cell phone into High Desert Prison for Ammar Harris. [8NewsNow]

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Implosion


  • If you've been following along in the comments, you've heard a few nuggets about what's going on a Lionel Sawyer & Collins, including that the venerable firm is not just downsizing or contracting, it's imploding. It seems their website is up and running again, but we got a tip that their attorney page no longer lists direct dial numbers--just the main switchboard extension. Take that for what you will...
  • Here's a little legal analysis fun for you. Two men were throwing rocks at a beehive, angering the bees who attack everyone around and send three people to the hospital. No charges were filed yet, but if they are, what crimes did the two men commit? [MyNews3; KTNV]
  • People in Northwest Vegas who are regularly affected by flooding are looking to sell their homes. [8NewsNow]
  • Today is the 69th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., we still have thousands of nuclear weapons in aging facilities. [Last Week Tonight with John Oliver via Huffington Post]

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Happy

Much is said about how unhappy lawyers are with their jobs. In fact, last year, Forbes Magazine said the associate attorney is the unhappiest job in America. But we want to know how much that line of thinking prevails in Las Vegas. Are you happy with your job or completely miserable? If you are miserable, what needs to change to make you happy? If you're happy, why? Click a button on the poll below and feel free to tell us how you really feel in the comments.

How happy are you in your current job?


Meanwhile, if you are miserably unhappy, please remember there are resources to help you cope:
Confidential help from a fellow lawyer is a phone call away
Toll Free: 866-828-0022
or
702-889-9404
Mitch Cobeaga, 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, August 4, 2014

Blame It On The Rain


  • The Las Vegas Justice Court is no longer accepting restitution payments on behalf of the Clark County DA's office. Going forward, restitution payments can be made to the Bad Check unit. [RJ]
  • Attorney Michael Mazur, whose practice is focused on collections, gives legal advice to the Laughlin Constable (Jordan Ross) and is also a sworn reserve deputy constable. [RJ]
  • The Las Vegas Tribune acknowledged being wrong about its article claiming Judge Adriana Escobar was never elected to the bench. [Las Vegas Tribune]
  • 77 of Metro's top 100 overtime earners are corrections officers. Do we have another fire department-like overtime scandal on our hands? [8NewsNow]
  • Meanwhile, Metro is still asking for more money for more cops. [Fox5Vegas]