Henderson city attorney to face council over arrest

Henderson City Attorney Elizabeth Quillin will face City Council members on Monday for the first time since her May 23 arrest on drunken driving and other charges.

The council has called a special meeting to decide Quillin's future with the city.

Council members could vote to fire the 51-year-old attorney with cause under a provision of her contract and a section of the city charter that prohibits "malfeasance" by an appointed official.

If Quillin is fired without cause, her contract entitles her to 12 months of salary and benefits totaling about $300,000.

The council also could vote Monday to accept Quillin's resignation or approve a negotiated severance agreement with her, though city Human Resources Director Fred Horvath said those scenarios appear unlikely.

Horvath said he has talked to Quillin's representatives in hopes of reaching an amicable separation deal, but "we have no agreement."

Quillin was booked for drunken driving and other misdemeanor charges after she crashed her Lexus SUV near Green Valley Ranch Resort in the middle of the workday.

Henderson police said Quillin failed a field sobriety test and admitted drinking "bottles" of wine before the accident.

Her blood-alcohol level was 0.281 percent, 3½ times the legal limit, according to the special prosecutor assigned to her case.

Quillin's trial is scheduled for Sept. 27, but city officials decided not to wait until then to determine whether she should keep her job.

The special meeting is set for 4:30 p.m. Monday in the council chambers at City Hall. It will start with a closed-door personnel session between Quillin and the council.

If council members vote to fire her with cause, Horvath said there is "a very real possibility" the matter will wind up in arbitration.

That process did not work out well for Henderson the last time it came up. In February, the city was forced to pay almost $1.3 million to former City Manager Mary Kay Peck after an arbitrator upheld her breach-of-contract claim.

The difference this time around is some "pretty obvious behavior that we will be relying on to support our decision," Horvath said.

Quillin makes $190,000 a year, plus benefits.

Shortly after her arrest, she checked into an alcohol treatment facility and used her own sick leave and vacation time as she underwent counseling, city spokesman Bud Cranor said.

She has been on paid administrative leave since July 12, when she notified the city that she had been cleared to return to work, Cranor said.

Quillin joined the legal staff of Nevada's second-largest city in 2007 after stints as an assistant county manager for Clark County and as the chief deputy attorney general for Southern Nevada.

The City Council appointed her city attorney in June 2009.

Until her criminal case is settled, Quillin has been barred from drinking and was ordered to wear an ankle bracelet that will detect any alcohol use.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350.