The Nevada Supreme Court is calling the “F” grade it received in a watchdog group’s nationwide survey of judicial financial disclosures “unfortunate” and “misleading.”
The Center for Public Integrity, in a report made public Wednesday, credited Nevada with being one of just 12 states that post at least some financial disclosures about judges online. But it faulted Nevada justices’ disclosures as less thorough today than three years ago.
The Washington, D.C.-based group gave Nevada an “F” grade, with a rating of 42.5 out of 100.
State Supreme Court spokesman Bill Gang said the study wasn’t neutral.
“Forty-two states and the District of Columbia received a failing grade,” Gang said in a statement issued on behalf of the court, “and not a single state earned an A or a B.”
The study noted that Nevada formed a judiciary reform commission after a 2006 Los Angeles Times investigation found multiple instances of Nevada judges awarding lucrative judgments to friends and former clients.
But the state no longer seeks information about judges’ debts, investments in real estate or businesses, the center said.
It pointed to Justice Ron Parraguirre’s report that he received a $250 gift from a mining company lobbyist in relation to a juvenile diabetes research gala, and to Justice Mark Gibbons’ wife’s work as a court reporter for law firms and insurance companies with cases before the state high court.
Gibbons removed himself from one case involving a firm his wife dealt with, the report said, but ruled on three others.
Neither Parraguirre nor Gibbons would respond individually to the report, Gang said Wednesday.
Nevada’s seven Supreme Court justices are elected to six-year terms at a base salary of $170,000. They can be paid more than $200,000 a year depending on longevity. They serve as the state’s only appellate court.
The court website details justices’ disclosures and annual contributions and expense reports required by state law.
The court statement said justices follow state law requiring them to address potential family member conflicts of interest on a case-by-case basis and “to step aside in cases that affect, or give the appearance of affecting, a judge’s family member’s financial interests.”