Litigious stalker and would-be Nevada controller Michael Schaefer is making his fourth try to convince Nevada officials he should be reinstated to the State Bar of Nevada.
The larger question is not why the sue-happy stalker of comic Brad Garrett is pursuing reinstatement but why Nevada Supreme Court Justices Mike Cherry and Mark Gibbons testified on Schaefer’s behalf in 2007.
The Nevada Supreme Court makes the final decision on whether someone is disbarred or reinstated.
In 2007, when Cherry and Gibbons spoke well of Schaefer, and again in 2009, when their testimony was made part of the record, the other justices still refused to reinstate him.
Cherry said he testified in Schaefer’s 2007 reinstatement effort because he was subpoenaed.
Cherry said Tuesday he recused himself from Schaefer’s previous reinstatement cases, but enough time has passed that he will hear the residency case if it comes before him.
Schaefer had filed to run for state controller as a Democrat, but District Judge Carolyn Ellsworth removed him from the ballot on April 3 because he had not been a Nevada resident for two years. Her decision was based partly on his run for Los Angeles City Council in 2013.
Schaefer confirmed Saturday that he has appealed the residency decision.
In 2007, Cherry, who had known Schaefer for more than 20 years, called Schaefer “a decent person” and said he believed Schaefer had been “punished severely” and that he had developed “more maturity” since his disbarment.
“If you start ranking where Mr. Schaefer is compared to the others who have been reinstated … he should be reinstated,” Cherry said at that time.
But fast forward five years, and Cherry said, “It’s been so many years that now I have no idea what’s going on with him.”
Gibbons testified then that Schaefer has “very good” legal skills and is “a very competent attorney.” He also had known Schaefer for 20 years at that time.
Gibbons’ office administrator said Gibbons will not testify in person and was unavailable to comment because he was out of the country.
Schaefer was first disbarred in 2001. He asked for reinstatement in 2004, 2007 and 2009 and was denied each time. He asked again in 2013.
When the court disbarred Schaefer, it said he violated six Nevada Supreme Court rules regarding conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, conduct involving dishonesty, deceit, fraud or misrepresentation, meritorious claims, candor toward tribunal, fairness to opposing party and counsel and communication with represented party.
The court said Schaefer demonstrated “a blatant disregard … for the rights of others and the administration of justice.”
Later, the justices said his “persistent refusal to recognize that any of his actions were improper indicates that his behavior is not likely to improve in the future.”
OSCAR GOODMAN AND HARRY REID
This time around, Schaefer has a recommendation for reinstatement from former mob lawyer and former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.
Schaefer also submitted a note from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, but Reid didn’t address reinstatement in his Sept. 9 note. It said only “Dear Mike, Good to hear you are well and happy. Sincerely, Harry.”
Goodman was more detailed, writing, “I have known Mr. Schaefer for over 40 years. He is, for want of a better description, ‘a character.’ I have admired his tenacity in pursuing his aformentioned goal (of reinstatement). I can attest that he really was (sic) to be readmitted. If his desire is relevant to your decision, then be assured he had earned it.”
Assistant Bar Counsel Glenn Machado has been dealing with Schaefer’s reinstatement requests for a decade and will handle the scheduled May 2 public hearing before the bar’s Southern Nevada Disciplinary Panel.
In his prehearing memo, Machado wrote the missives from Reid and Goodman are “essentially irrelevant. … And to the extent Schaefer believes they are relevant, that speaks volumes as to his competency and learning in law.”
Schaefer is a longtime perennial candidate, who said during his second reinstatement plea that he would not be a candidate for office again.
However, he filed in 2013 to run for Los Angeles City Council and recently filed to run for state controller, a job in which he would be responsible for administering the state’s accounting system, settling all claims against the state and collecting debts, processing the state’s financial transactions and ensuring legal compliance with the laws.
Schaefer filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and before the disbarment had two public reprimands and a suspension, starting in 1981 in Nevada.
In 2003, the California Supreme Court, which had already disciplined him three times and disbarred him, concluded he “not only has not learned from his past misconduct, he does not appreciate the gravity of his present misconduct.”
Schaefer used to represent himself in these efforts and writes about himself in the third person.
Now 76, he wrote in 2006 that because he was disbarred he has become a “pariah” with ladies he would like to date.
In 2010, Schaefer wrote, “As he ages he is calmer, more calculating, seeking peace not war.”
Yet in 2012, a restraining order keeping him 100 feet from Garrett was granted. The comic said Schaefer was stalking him, and a justice of the peace agreed. Their conflict began when Schaefer was refused a comp to Garrett’s show at the MGM Grand in June 2012. He took umbrage and began firing off angry notes to the actor, boasting about his importance in Las Vegas.
Garrett and others asked whether they could testify by telephone at the hearing because they were afraid to be in the same room as Schaefer, according to documents filed with the state bar.
Las Vegas attorney Cal Potter is representing Schaefer and said if Schaefer, who has been dubbed a vexatious litigant, is readmitted to the bar, he would be willing to have a mentor who would decide whether he could file cases or not.
Potter acknowledged that in the 2009 effort, the Supreme Court “expressed reservations concerning Mr. Schaefer’s litigation activities and financial and gambling issues.”
These days, the man who wanted to be controller participates in “minimal gambling,” according to Potter.
Potter noted that Schaefer has been successful in “lost causes” cases, including challenging a California law prohibiting candidates from running for office unless they were already residents of the state.
In another California case, Schaefer convinced the California Supreme Court that election officials must accept write-in votes.
Potter’s petition for reinstatement said Schaefer possesses the moral qualifications, competency and learning in law required to practice law in Nevada and that his practice is limited to cases involving elections and public interest.
After the hearing, the state bar will make a recommendation, and the Supreme Court will decide whether Schaefer should be reinstated.