The Nevada Supreme Court continues to show interest in legal issues surrounding the divorce case of poker star Phil Ivey and his ex-wife.
In an order filed Wednesday, Chief Justice Nancy Saitta directed the court clerk to schedule the matter for oral arguments before the full court "on the next available calendar."
"Based on our preliminary review of the record and the briefs, we have determined that oral argument would be of assistance in resolving the issues presented by the appeal," according to the order.
On Thursday, the clerk notified lawyers in the case that arguments have been set for 11:30 a.m. on June 4 at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas.
Luciaetta Ivey filed a petition in September that asked the high court to disqualify the Clark County Family Court judge assigned to the sealed divorce case, Bill Gonzalez.
The document raises questions about campaign contributions Phil Ivey and his lawyers made to Gonzalez. The divorce was granted in December 2009, and the contributions were made in early 2010.
"The public is entitled to know that impartiality is the rule for the judiciary," according to Luciaetta Ivey's petition. "Further, Luciaetta is entitled to fairness and the appearance of fairness before this court and recusal is the only way that she can be sure to receive both."
The petition challenges the decision of Chief District Judge Jennifer Togliatti, who denied Luciaetta Ivey's motion to disqualify Gonzalez.
"While the scheduling of oral argument is significant, and we appreciate the opportunity to more fully explain our position to the Supreme Court, it certainly doesn't mean that we will prevail," said Luciaetta Ivey's lawyer, Bruce Shapiro. "What it does mean is that the Supreme Court is taking a serious look at the issue, has additional questions, and we have full confidence in the court to render the appropriate decision."
In November, the Supreme Court ruled that Luciaetta Ivey had raised issues of "arguable merit" in the case and gave Phil Ivey 30 days to answer her petition.
Phil Ivey's lawyers argued in their answer that Gonzalez no longer had jurisdiction over the divorce case when the contributions were made because the case was closed.
However, the matter came back before the judge in June, when Luciaetta Ivey filed a motion that raised new issues in the divorce case.
"We are pleased that the Supreme Court has granted oral argument, and we look forward to responding to any and all inquiries of the court," said David Chesnoff, one of Phil Ivey's lawyers.
Gonzalez was appointed by then-Gov. Jim Gibbons in March 2009 to fill a vacant seat. Voters elected Gonzalez to the seat in November 2010.
Phil Ivey, considered one of the world's best poker players, contributed $5,000 to Gonzalez's campaign on April 17, 2010. He did not contribute to any other Family Court judge. His lawyers also made contributions to Gonzalez's campaign.
Phil Ivey has won eight World Series of Poker gold championship bracelets since 2000. He and Luciaetta Ivey were married in Las Vegas on May 19, 2002.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-384-8710.