Nevada Supreme Court hears arguments in Judge Ramsey recall case


Nevada Supreme Court justices heard arguments Monday about whether or not a recall against an embattled North Las Vegas Municipal Court judge should go forward.

At issue: Judge Catherine Ramsey's contention that judges, despite being elected, can't be recalled and that she was not properly noticed to observe the recall petition signature verification process.

The city and the recall effort argued notice of verification isn't required by law — a position justices questioned heavily — and that, even if it was, Ramsey got an email that the process was starting, although she wasn't told when or where it would happen. Additionally, Ramsey did end up viewing the process. Clark County did the verification a second time, leaving out the part where the names are entered electronically and a computer system randomly selects the sample that will be verified.

Ramsey's attorney Craig Mueller said Ramsey found problems in the petition, such as a signature that showed up five times on one page, and that, had she been able to be more involved in watching the verification, those issues would have been caught. It would have been apparent the recall lacked sufficient signatures, he said.

The recall committee turned in more than 2,700 petition signatures under deadline. The effort needed 1,984.

Justice Michael Douglas questioned if the second verification Ramsey viewed could make up for missing the first verification and sample selection, as the first verification lasted about five hours and the second about one hour.

The recall committee has accused Ramsey of taking an excessive number of days off, misappropriating city funds to pay for a private lawsuit and asking employees to perform personal errands on city time.

Ramsey has argued the recall is a political hit job by the city because she dismissed cases due to technical errors, depriving the city of revenue, and fought to preserve court funding that the city wanted to take for other uses.

The city has denied this and said it is not involved in the recall.

City Attorney Sandra Douglass Morgan is running for Ramsey's seat. Mueller has pointed to Morgan's campaign as evidence of a city conspiracy. Morgan has said running for the seat isn't a conflict. She's in a position where she's seen the city — and her office — struggle with Ramsey and she thinks she could help if elected as judge, she said.

The recall has powerful political allies. David Thomas is the recall's political consultant. Thomas is so well known for running judicial campaigns that he's called the "Judge Maker." Also on hand, former Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller.

Ramsey has been on the bench since 2011.

The court took the case under submission and will rule later.

Contact Bethany Barnes at bbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Find her on Twitter: @betsbarnes