High-profile labor lawyer Gregory Kamer has been advising District Court administrators behind the scenes regarding the FBI’s investigation into Family Court marshals.
Kamer also has been defending court administrators in two wrongful termination lawsuits filed by former Family Court marshals and providing legal advice on internal disciplinary cases involving marshals.
Kamer originally was hired to work on issues related to a labor agreement with the marshals. Within the past year, relations have deteriorated between the marshals and court officials, and both sides are locked in litigation on several fronts over the working conditions of the marshals.
Since he was retained in October 2010, Kamer has been paid $13,087 in taxpayer money. The county pays his legal fees because it controls the budget for District Court and is primarily responsible for providing legal representation to court employees.
Court officials, who have two staff attorneys at their disposal, have turned to Kamer when county lawyers — and, in some cases, the Nevada Attorney General’s Office — have declined to represent them in matters involving Family Court marshals.
Family Court is a division of District Court.
Officials have vowed unconditional cooperation in the FBI investigation.
“The court’s intention is to cooperate fully and be transparent as to any of the issues in the investigation and encourage employees to cooperate,” Chief District Judge Jennifer Togliatti said.
According to Togliatti, when court officials learned that Family Court marshals had come under federal scrutiny, they informed the FBI that there were internal investigative files in the court’s possession that could be produced to the FBI with a subpoena.
The FBI accepted the officials’ offer.
Agents recently carted boxes of files from the Regional Justice Center office of Ed May, the human resources manager for District Court.
Agents subpoenaed records from internal investigations of Family Court marshals over several years.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported last week that FBI agents quietly have interviewed current and former courthouse employees in a stepped-up investigation into allegations of excessive force by Family Court marshals and possible cover-ups of their actions.
The investigation, which has been ongoing for weeks, has created a stir within courthouse circles because of the possibility it could lead to court administrators accused of turning a deaf ear to some brutality allegations.
Allegations have surfaced that administrators who developed personal relationships with Family Court marshals allowed a variety of misconduct, including excessive use of force, to continue with little or no punishment.
A former courthouse employee said the agents were looking for evidence of court officials failing to take action following internal investigations of marshals.
The agents were asking about the roles within the courts of District Court Executive Steve Grierson, some of his top administrators and one of his staff attorneys.
More than a half-dozen marshals, including internal affairs investigators, are among those FBI agents have interviewed over several weeks.
Some Family Court marshals also have testified before a federal grand jury reviewing allegations their former supervisor, Steve Rushfield, choked a woman on May 20, 2010, while she was restrained in a holding cell. The woman, Crystal Williams, has also testified.
Kamer, who is not a criminal lawyer, has provided limited advice to court officials in the FBI investigation.
His advice was sought when the issue arose of whether the attorney-client privilege prevented a staff attorney from being interviewed by FBI agents about any incidents involving marshals.
The attorney-client privilege prohibits a lawyer from revealing information discussed privately with a client without the client’s permission.
In this case, it was determined that the privilege only applied to discussions the staff attorney had with Togliatti and Grierson. So the decision was made to allow the attorney to speak to agents.
Kamer declined to comment about the legal advice he has given court administrators in the FBI investigation.
One of the termination cases Kamer is defending involves George Glasper, the former supervisor of District Court marshals, who was fired in March 2011 after he fell out of favor with Grierson.
Glasper, who was among those interviewed by FBI agents, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against District Court in August.
Just why Glasper was fired from his lieutenant’s position at the Regional Justice Center is unclear. Neither Glasper nor court officials would comment, but court officials are expected to file a response to Glasper’s suit this week.
Glasper, who did not get along with Rushfield, is known to have had some personal problems at the time of his termination. But in his lawsuit against District Court, Glasper, who is black, alleges he was the subject of racial discrimination by Grierson, his direct supervisor.
Grierson is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but in court papers Glasper and his lawyer, Kirk Kennedy, blame him for Glasper’s firing.
Grierson issued a statement last week defending the decision to let Glasper go.
“Integrity, honesty, and the public’s confidence in our marshal division are critical to the court, and I’m confident that after the facts of this case are revealed, it will become clear that termination was warranted,” Grierson said.
Kamer also is defending court officials in litigation brought by a fired marshal accused of groping a woman at Family Court. The marshal, Ron Fox, is trying to get his job back.
He is accused of assaulting Monica Contreras, 28, who was in Family Court on Aug. 8, 2011, for a hearing related to her divorce. Fox has denied wrongdoing, but the FBI is also interested in this case.
In a courtroom incident captured on videotape, Contreras complained to Hearing Master Patricia Doninger that Fox groped her in a witness room under the guise of searching her for drugs. Doninger was let go amid the publicity of the incident.
Fox’s lawyer, Adam Levine, is challenging the court’s disciplinary process against marshals. In court papers, he has accused Family Court’s top administrator, Leonard Cash, of tampering with witnesses in Fox’s termination case.
Contact reporter Jeff German at email@example.com or 702-380-8135. Follow him on Twitter @JGermanRJ.