Robert Pool, a deputized attorney for Las Vegas Township Constable John Bonaventura, faces court-ordered sanctions for his handling of a lawsuit for Bonaventura.
Pool must pay more than $11,000 in connection with the sanctions, which include reimbursing attorney fees.
The judge’s punishment came after improper filings that attempted to move the case to the District Court level from the Nevada Supreme Court, where the case awaits a decision.
The filings are connected to Bonaventura’s lawsuit against the constables of Laughlin and Henderson townships that attempts to prevent those offices from working in the Las Vegas Township.
For Bonaventura, the turf dispute could cost his office revenue from competing constables. But his opponents argued that the practice of working throughout the county regardless of township boundaries is legal and a longstanding practice.
Constables and their deputies, as sworn law officers, handle evictions and serve legal papers. They don’t get tax revenues, but run the offices based on fees for their services.
Court records show that Pool tried to file an amended complaint in District Court, despite a written order that prevents further proceedings there as the case awaits a ruling from the state’s high court. At the same time, Pool also filed a proposed order that would have granted leave to file the case in District Court, which was unsigned in violation of court rules.
District Judge Ronald Israel’s Oct. 1 order requires Pool to pay $750 to the defendants’ attorney and pay $1,000 to the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. The judge also has ordered Pool to pay $9,600 to the defendants’ law firm, Goodman Law Group, for the costs of dealing with the improper filing.
Public dollars from the constable’s office cannot pay the fees; the responsibility is Pool’s.
“It was directed against him in his individual capacity as a lawyer,” said Ross Goodman, the attorney for the Laughlin and Henderson constables.
The judge’s order came after Goodman, attorney for Laughlin Constable Jordan Ross and Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell, filed a motion to strike Pool’s complaint filing and sought sanctions.
Goodman wrote in his motion that Pool’s actions amounted to a “willful abuse of the judicial process,” adding that the filing with the Supreme Court misrepresented the District Court’s orders. Goodman called this action “bad faith” that “undermined the integrity of the judicial process and unnecessarily increased the litigation costs for the defendants.”
In a Tuesday email, Bonaventura said: “This is ridiculous, the law is clear, they need to stop violating the jurisdiction law.”
Bonaventura added that he believes the judge is in error and that the matter is under reconsideration.
In a statement, Pool said Tuesday he disagrees with the judge’s decision.
“We disagree with the sanctions and believe the judge is in error because that same judge originally directed us to file the amended complaint which ultimately resulted in the sanctions,” Pool said.
“Additionally, the Nevada Supreme Court considered the same matter and found the opposite of the District Court. The issue of the sanctions has been submitted again to the District Court for reconsideration.”
The case between Bonaventura and the other constables is pending. While the case is ongoing, the Supreme Court has ruled that constables can cross township boundaries within Clark County as usual.
“For decades, Clark County constables have been serving paperwork through the county,” Goodman said.
Bonaventura has faced a variety of high-profile incidents, ranging from a widely criticized reality show pilot featuring foul-mouthed deputies to lawsuits and allegations of sexual harassment from former staffers.
County commissioners in March voted to abolish his office, which, under state law, takes effect when Bonaventura leaves office in January 2015.
Contact reporter Ben Botkin at email@example.com or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.