weather icon Clear

State judicial board won’t address campaign gripes

Nevada’s judicial discipline board is unlikely to act on a series of complaints filed against candidates in the 2020 primary unless the targets of the complaints are elected.

Paul Deyhle, executive director of the Commission on Judicial Discipline, said the board does not have authority over attorneys who have not been sworn in to seats on the bench.

With the June 9 election day approaching, at least three grievances filed with the commission this month questioned campaign advertisements of judicial candidates.

The commission could meet to review the allegations “so we’re not starting from scratch” if the candidates are elected, but the group would stop short of conducting a public hearing or imposing discipline, Deyhle said.

In 2011, the Nevada Supreme Court disbanded the state’s Standing Committee on Judicial Ethics and Election Practices, which had imposed decisions and attempted to resolve ethical disputes during campaigns, according to Deyhle.

Candidates too often had used the committee “as a weapon” against opponents, he said.

The judicial commission’s purpose is “to investigate allegations of Judicial misconduct in office, violations of the Revised Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct, or disability of judges,” according to its website, which does not specify investigations into judicial candidates.

The code states that candidates may not “seek, accept, or use endorsements or publicly stated support from a political organization.”

Earlier this month, a pair of attorneys vying for judgeships in Clark County filed separate complaints with the judicial review board, naming seven candidates in the upcoming primary election.

Parts of the accusations focused on a campaign flyer under the banner of the Nevada Republican Club, which listed candidates endorsed by the group and stated that the candidates had paid for the advertisement.

Days later, attorney Bill Terry, who is not a judicial candidate, filed a separate complaint against Jacob Reynolds, who is listed on the flyer along with incumbents Joe Hardy Jr., Ron Israel and William Voy, and attorneys Adam Ganz, Dan Gilliam and Margaret Pickard.

The state’s judicial canons allow for candidates to “group themselves into slates or other alliances to conduct their campaigns more effectively.”

Reynolds is squaring off against attorneys Caesar Almase, Tara Clark Newberry and Bruce Gale in a race for Department 21.

Before Terry’s complaint, attorney Mickey Bohn had filed a similar criticism against Gilliam in the five-way race for Department 24 against attorneys Joe Vadala, Dena Rinetti and Erika Ballou.

Family Court candidate Jack Fleeman also criticized online videos and photos posted by Pickard in a race for a newly created seat.

While judicial candidates are limited in what they can discuss on the campaign trail, the division may run deeper than the flyer.

The two candidates who filed complaints are represented by the same campaign manager, Tom Letizia, while those on the mailer are represented by David Thomas.

Thomas said that the coronavirus pandemic struck Las Vegas just as judicial races started heating up, forcing many candidates to seek alternatives on the campaign trail.

“We’re in coronavirus and everybody got cut off on funding,” Thomas said. “Now this is sour grapes after the fact.”

Thomas later added: “There are constitutional protections of free speech in place for these judicial candidates when it comes to party affiliation.”

Meanwhile, two candidates whose campaigns are managed by Letizia have promoted endorsements from the Nevada Republican Club.

“It’s just massive hypocrisy on something that’s pretty much settled law,” Thomas said. “It’s nonsense.”

Letizia said that his candidates did not pay for the club’s endorsement, though “they may have listed endorsements, which a lot of people have done.”

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Crime Videos
Arrests Made In Murder Investigation
Nickolas Vonalst, Monika Gonzalez, and a juvenile were arrested following a murder investigation that began on June 23rd, 2020. (Nye County Sheriff's Office/YouTube)
The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a homicide
The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a homicide at the area of East Flamingo Road and Palos Verde Street on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Police investigate officer-involved shooting in northern Las Vegas - Video
An individual who police say was brandishing a sword was shot and injured by Las Vegas police, prompting a barricade situation in the central Las Vegas Valley on Monday, June 23. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Woman steals truck, fires at officer - Video
Shanita Hearns, 34, of Las Vegas shot at Henderson Police officers after stealing a truck from a gas station at Horizon Drive and Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson on May 31. She was eventually arrested near Tropicana Avenue and Decatur Boulevard after Nevada Highway Patrol officers jumped a median to ram into the side of the truck. (Henderson Police Department)
Mobbed Up - Part Five teaser
A look at some of the interesting reminders of a mob life in the home of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, featured on the fifth episode of the Mobbed Up podcast. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Shootings during Las Vegas protest leave 1 dead, officer in critical condition
A Las Vegas police officer was shot and critically injured Monday night. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police briefing on shooting during Black Lives Matter protest
Sheriff Joe Lombardo briefs the media on shootings during the Black Lives Matter protest that left one man dead and a Metro officer in critical condition on Monday, June 1, 2020.
Customer reacts to store looting
Longtime customer Najja Hashim talks about the looting of a neighborhood convenience store. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Search continues for homicide suspects - Video
In October 2017, 62-year-old David Rathbun was reported missing by family members and later found deceased in Arizona. The Las Vegas police homicide section is asking for the public’s assistance in locating 55-year-old Charles Ausiello and 45-year-old Jolene Hibbs who are suspects in Rathbun’s death. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two men were stabbed Thursday morning at a central Las Vegas home - Video
Two men were stabbed at a central Las Vegas home, Thursday morning, May 21, leaving both with life-threatening injuries. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Cellphone tower destroyed In Nye County - Video
The Nye County Sheriff's Office is investigating a cellphone tower being destroyed in Pahrump. (Nye County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)
Shots Fired in Downtown Las Vegas
Police reported that they were investigating a shooting in which a suspect fired a weapon at officers on Fremont Street on Monday, May 4, 2020.
Police briefing on officer-involved shooting northeast of Las Vegas - VIDEO
Metro Police Department Capt. Nichole Splinter gives a briefing from the scene of an officer-involved shooting at Apex Road and Interstate 15, northeast of Las Vegas, Wednesday, April 29, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police ID man killed in officer-involved shooting - VIDEO
A 24-year-old man with a sawed-off shotgun was shot dead by Las Vegas police in front of a red car the man allegedly tried to steal toward the end of car a chase Tuesday with speeds of more than 100 mph through multiple areas of the valley. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police are investigating a homicide
Las Vegas police are investigating a homicide after a man was found deceased in the parking lot of a strip mall at 9640 W. Tropicana Ave. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Homicide briefing
Las Vegas police investigate a homicide in southwest Las Vegas. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police investigate homicide
Las Vegas police investigate a homicide in southwest Las Vegas. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police investigate officer-involved shooting in east valley - VIDEO
Las Vegas police on Tuesday were investigating an officer-involved shooting in the east valley. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nye county detective returns home from hospital - VIDEO
A Nye County Sheriff’s Office detective who was shot in March was released from the hospital Wednesday and is recovering at home with family. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Nevada high court weighs murder charges in DUIs

The Nevada Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned why prosecutors in Las Vegas have decided to charge some DUI suspects with murder, evoking commentary on whether race and wealth played a role.