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Las Vegas police union calls for district judge to resign

The union representing rank-and-file Las Vegas police officers is calling for a district judge to resign after comments she made about police during a recent court hearing.

Late Wednesday night, the Las Vegas Police Protective Association posted a 30-second video with a timestamp from Monday to the union’s Facebook feed. In the video, District Judge Erika Ballou appears to talk to a defendant during a hearing.

“You’re a Black man in America, you know you don’t want to be nowhere where cops are,” Ballou says in the video. “… You listen to me, you know you don’t want to be nowhere where cops are. Because I know I don’t, and I’m a middle-aged, middle-class Black woman. I don’t want to be around where the cops are because I don’t know if I’m going to walk away alive or not.”

The union accused Ballou of disparaging law enforcement and called her comments “unethical and irresponsible.”

Ballou defended herself in an emailed statement sent through District Court spokeswoman Mary Ann Price.

“I support proper law enforcement,” the statement 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 union’s Facebook post does not indicate which court case the video was taken from. Union President Steve Grammas, who said the post could be attributed to him, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Thursday that he was not sure which case the video came from.

Grammas said that Ballou’s comments were not appropriate for a courtroom and that her statements should be investigated. He said the video had circulated among the police officers who make up the union.

“They all felt horrible that a judge would make the inference that if this judge was hanging around police, that she may not make it out with her life,” he said.

The Facebook post also called for Ballou to be sanctioned for what the union said was a violation of the Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires judges to “aspire at all times to conduct that ensures the greatest possible public confidence in their independence, impartiality, integrity, and competence.”

Paul Deyhle, the executive director of the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline, said Thursday that he legally cannot say if a complaint has been filed against Ballou.

“The commission is aware of the news reports concerning the judge, and any complaints filed will be considered by the commission,” Deyhle said.

He declined to comment further on the union’s accusations.

The union has made multiple posts about Ballou since the initial video was published late Wednesday. In one post, which called Ballou a “disgrace to the bench,” the union called for another candidate to be elected to take over Ballou’s position in Department 14.

Ballou was elected to the bench in 2020 without raising or spending any money campaigning. She will be up for re-election in 2026.

She previously made headlines in 2016 when she refused to remove a “Black Lives Matter” button she wore as a deputy public defender after then-District Judge Douglas Herndon, who is now a Nevada Supreme Court justice, ordered her to take it off.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Sabrina Schnur contributed to this report.

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