Police officers union to appeal ruling on inquests

The Las Vegas police officers union fighting the revamped coroner's inquest will appeal a federal judge's ruling that the new system does not violate officers' rights, said Josh Reisman, lawyer for three officers challenging the inquest.

The union also will join an appeal of a similar ruling by a state District Court judge in an inquest challenge by Nevada Highway Patrol troopers.

U.S. District Judge Philip Pro ruled this week that officers' constitutional rights, including due process and equal protection, are not jeopardized by Clark County's inquest ordinance. But he ruled that the ordinance could violate the Nevada Constitution's separation of powers clause, and he sent that part of the case to be heard in state District Court.

Pro's decision echoed last month's ruling by state District Judge Joanna Kishner in the troopers' legal challenge .

Kishner threw out the troopers' claims of constitutional rights violations. She also found the county ordinance raised separation-of-powers questions, but she ruled that issue could be fixed by simply deleting a sentence from the ordinance.

The Clark County Commission changed the inquest a year ago amid complaints that it was too favorable for police. Because of the challenges and other delays, the coroner's office hasn't held an inquest since October 2010, leaving a backlog of 16 cases.

Contact reporter Brian Haynes at bhaynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281.