A Scandal in the Nevada Courts
The Los Angeles Times today in the first of a three-part series has a fascinating and important story about "justice" in Las Vegas where, the Times' reports, judges "routinely rule in cases involving friends, former clients and business associates-- and in favor of lawyers who fill their campaign coffers." The piece (and the two others to follow Friday and Saturday) are a must-read for judges, lawyers, clients and legislators everywhere. From the reporting of Michael J. Goodman and William Rempel we get this: "This is a juice town, some Las Vegaas attorneys openly concede. Financial contributions 'get you juice with a judge-- an 'in' "
And there is this: "At the heart of the Las Vegas court system are 21 state judges who hear civil and criminal cases, and who can be assigned anywhere in Nevada, but who are called district judges because they work out of courthouses in the judicial districts where they are elected. These state judges often dispense a style of wide-open, frontier justice that veers out of control across ethical, if not legal, boundaries. The consequences reach beyond Nevada, affecting people in other states, especially California."
As faithful readers of Bench Conference know, no one is a bigger supporter of the judiciary than me. But there is no defense to the examples cited by the Times. The stories cited by the paper are so atrocious-- judges borrowing money from attorneys who worked in cases before them, judges who awarded damages and fees to former business associates without disclosing the link, judges who accepted expensive gifts from lawyers during the pendency of the litigation, judges who gave unspent campaign funds to their girlfriends-- that they ought to lead to a massive investigation by state and federal prosecutors.
Judges across the country have enough trouble these days from politicians who seek to limit their independence, power and authority. They don't need to enhance those problems by creating the appearance of gross impropriety, if not outright illegality, that pepper the Times' piece. If the judicial system is as broken in Nevada as the paper suggests, it must be fixed and fixed quickly.
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Posted by: Cujo359 | June 8, 2006 02:25 PM
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Posted by: SandyK | June 9, 2006 08:46 AM
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