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District judge’s social media posts violated judicial code of conduct, complaint alleges

Updated January 26, 2024 - 10:03 pm

A complaint filed this week alleges that social media posts attributed to District Judge Erika Ballou violated Nevada’s code of judicial conduct.

The revelation was outlined in charges filed before the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline by a special counsel appointed by the commission.

Two posts were published on Ballou’s Instagram and Facebook accounts in 2021 and 2022.

One post came during the Life is Beautiful festival in late September 2021 in downtown Las Vegas. Ballou’s post included a selfie and said: “Life is STILL beautiful, despite the fact that Billie Eilish doesn’t START for thirty minutes and I have a 8:30 calendar tomorrow.”

In a hashtag that included an expletive, the judge suggested that out-of-custody hearings should be vacated, according to the complaint, which included a screenshot of the Instagram post.

The complaint said Ballou’s post was an inappropriate statement about her judicial duties.

The following April, the judge took to Facebook to post a photo in which she posed in a hot tub with two Clark County public defenders, Shana Brouwers and Robson Hauser.

“Robson is surrounded by great (breasts),” read a caption included in a screenshot. The complaint also called the post inappropriate. It doesn’t suggest that Brouwers or Hauser acted inappropriately.

The complaint said Ballou’s posts violated several codes of conduct, including one that states judges should act in a way that promotes public trust, a rule that calls for her position take precedence over her “personal and extrajudicial activities,” and a rule that prohibits conveying and impression that there’s somebody or an entity in a position of influence.

Ballou and a Clark County District Court spokesperson could not be reached for comment after-business hours Friday.

The complaint, filed by attorney Francis Flaherty, is a first step for possible disciplinary action, according to the commission.

The judge will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations before a hearing is scheduled, the commission states. If Ballou appeals the findings, the case could progress all the way to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Ballou, a graduate of Tulane University School of Law, has practiced law in Nevada for 20 years.

In July 2022, she faced calls to resign from the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, the union that represents rank-and-file Metropolitan Police Department officers.

The union posted a short video that showed the judge tell a defendant that he was a “Black man in America, you know you don’t want to be nowhere where cops are.”

She further said in the video that as a Black American, she didn’t want to interact with police “because I don’t know if I’m going to walk away alive or not.”

Ballou countered that she supports law enforcement, she said. “What the record shows, is that I communicate with those who appear before me in a manner that is straight-forward and understandable.”

The judge assumed her current position in 2021.

In 2016, as a Clark County public defender, Ballou clashed with then-District Judge Douglas Herndon over her usage of a “Black Lives Matter” button in court.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow @rickytwrites on Twitter.

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