CARSON CITY — The attorney for embattled Assemblyman Steven Brooks on Monday filed a writ with the Nevada Supreme Court asking that the troubled lawmaker be allowed to serve in the Legislature.
Las Vegas attorney Mitchell Posin said a Feb. 11 letter from Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, placing Brooks on leave with pay pending the outcome of an Assembly investigation into whether he is fit for office is not legal. The letter also banned Brooks from the Legislative Building.
“The Legislature does not have the constitutional authority to put him on administrative leave,” Posin said. “The Legislature is not his employer. He is an elected official.”
Posin, who filed the writ late Monday, has asked the court to act within 14 days.
“I’m not sure how they will proceed,” he said. “This is not an everyday kind of occurrence. But I’ve asked that it be heard on an expedited basis. Every day that goes by is a day he is not doing his work in the Legislature. He should be able to do his job. He was elected by the voters, not hired by the Legislature.”
Posin said he will be defending Brooks against the charges filed today by Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson stemming from a Feb. 10 domestic violence arrest involving his wife.
“He does not accept that he is guilty of those crimes,” Posin said. “We don’t believe they have the evidence to prove the charges.”
Wolfson said Monday that Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, will be charged with resisting a public officer with use of a firearm, assault on an officer, battery domestic violence and obstructing a police officer.
Resisting an officer is a felony, and assault on an officer is a gross misdemeanor. The other charges are misdemeanors.
Las Vegas police arrested Brooks on Feb. 10 after responding to the couple’s home on Turtle River Avenue just after midnight.
But even if he is convicted of a felony, it may not mean Brooks’ automatic removal from the Legislature.
Rick Combs, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said a felony conviction would not necessarily prohibit Brooks from completing his term.
Felons who haven’t yet had their right to vote restored are ineligible to run for office, but Brooks is already in the Legislature.
There is nothing in the state constitution or law that would cause a felony conviction to result in an automatic removal from office for a legislator, Combs said.
“It would still be up to the House to decide the qualifications of that member,” Combs wrote in an email.
Meanwhile, an Assembly investigation into whether Brooks is fit to serve continues to move forward.
“The fact that Mr. Wolfson filed formal charges on Mr. Brooks doesn’t change anything on what we’re doing here,” Horne said. “Our investigators and the independent counsel are charged to bring us information on Mr. Brooks on his behavior and conduct in recent month that impact his ability to serve.”
Once Las Vegas attorney Mark Ferrario, who is serving as independent counsel, has completed his review, the information will be brought to the Assembly Select Committee appointed to review Brooks’ behavior. The committee, led by Horne, will make recommendations to the full Assembly on whether he should be allowed to continue to serve.
Horne said he does not expect the Select Committee to meet until next week.
Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, a Select Committee member, expects a speedy investigation.
“The whole saga is a sad one for Steve Brooks, his family and also for his constituents,” he said. “They are not being represented here and that’s unfortunate.”
The state attorney general’s office is reviewing charges related to Brooks’ Jan. 19 arrest after allegations that he threatened Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas. Brooks was reportedly upset about his committee assignments.
Kirkpatrick said she has not heard from the attorney general’s office regarding the status of the review, nor has she been interviewed about the matter.
According to his arrest report, Brooks pulled his wife’s hair and threatened her on Feb. 10.
Ada Brooks ran from the home to a neighbor’s house shortly after midnight and called police. She received a cut or bump to her bottom lip during the incident, the report said.
Brooks was initially arrested on misdemeanor charges and quickly posted bail. A summons will be issued for Brooks to appear in Las Vegas Justice Court.
Staff writer Benjamin Spillman contributed to this report. Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0283. Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900.