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Robert Telles files subpoenas for arrest details, wants judge recused

Updated March 29, 2023 - 7:09 pm

Former Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, acting as his own lawyer as he faces a murder charge in the killing of a reporter, filed nearly two dozen subpoenas last week in an effort to uncover details about the investigation that led to his arrest.

Meanwhile, in separate recent court papers, Telles doubled down on his request to have the judge overseeing his proceedings removed from the case as he awaits trial in the slaying of Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German.

The ousted elected official has written in court documents that when District Judge Michelle Leavitt questioned him about representing himself, she “refused to maintain an open mind” and was “prejudicing Defendant with the media.” Telles is accused of fatally stabbing German outside the reporter’s home in September.

Leavitt responded to Telles’ motion in her own affidavit earlier this month.

“The court cannot control the media coverage of this matter,” the judge wrote.

A hearing on the motion for recusal is scheduled for Thursday in front of District Judge Jerry Wiese.

Prosecutors have accused Telles of killing German because of articles he wrote about Telles’ conduct as an elected official. Telles has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge, denied his involvement in the slaying during interviews with other local media outlets and has claimed that what prosecutors called “overwhelming” evidence against him was planted at his home.

Telles’ motion for Leavitt’s recusal accused the judge of “badgering” him when she questioned him about his knowledge of criminal law during a court hearing in February, when she told him repeatedly that she believed representing himself was a bad idea.

“And you understand that once you decide on self-representation that you don’t get to change your mind in the middle of the proceedings and then request an attorney?” she asked Telles. “I think I’ve made it pretty clear that we’re not playing games here.”

In Leavitt’s response to Telles’ motion for her recusal, she argued that she was required to thoroughly question him to determine if he understood the consequences of representing himself, and that she could remain impartial during the proceedings.

“I will not be swayed by public clamor or fear of criticism,” Leavitt wrote. “I will do my duty as a Judge and hear the cases assigned to me, unless prevented by rule, statute, or case law.”

Telles argued in a response filed March 21 that Leavitt incorrectly stated that he could not hire an attorney later on in the court proceedings. Telles said that he wants to file pre-trial motions that his prior attorneys did not file in the time frame he requested.

He wrote in court documents that he plans to file additional motions after receiving a response from the 22 subpoenas he filed last week. The subpoenas were sent to the Metropolitan Police Department and the Clark County Detention Center, and requested information about the investigation into German’s killing.

The Review-Journal has been fighting to keep officials from searching through reporting materials on German’s personal devices that were seized by police after his death, which could reveal confidential sources.

Appeals over a preliminary injunction preventing officials from searching the devices are currently before the Supreme Court.

On Friday, the Review-Journal filed a motion to quash Telles’ subpoenas that would produce material from German’s phone or personal devices.

“Several of the subpoenas appear to endanger the privileges and protections for newsgathering materials that led this Court and the Nevada Supreme Court to enter injunctions protecting those materials,” the newspaper’s lawyers wrote in the motion to quash the subpoenas.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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