August 24, 2016 - 5:50 pm
North Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge Catherine Ramsey is barred from seeking re-election next year and will be suspended without pay for the final three months of her term as part of a settlement in which she admitted to seven charges of professional misconduct.
Ramsey also is required to complete an exam to determine whether she is fit for duty, with issuing an apology to the people who filed the complaint against her, according to the agreement reached this month with the Nevada State Commission on Judicial Discipline.
Also, Ramsey’s supervisor, Judge Sean Hoeffgen, was reprimanded for failing to report the misconduct and must complete an ethics class in October, under a separate settlement with the discipline commission.
The two judges, who make up the city’s entire municipal bench, did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.
“I think Judge Ramsey’s admission of guilt to her widespread corruption speaks for itself,” North Las Vegas Assistant City Manager Ryann Juden said in a statement.
“The transformation inside City Hall is producing tremendous successes throughout our city,” Juden said. “This order allows the court to begin the reform needed to become an institution worthy of our employees and residents.”
Ramsey, elected in 2011 as the first woman to serve as a judge in the city’s history, admitted to “failing to maintain the dignity of her office” and to “avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety,” according to the consent to discipline filed Monday with the Nevada Supreme Court.
Ramsey admitted to amending charges in several cases against the wishes of both the defense and the prosecutor. She also admitted making her assistant do her personal errands.
The discipline commission did not decide whether Ramsey improperly charged $12,000 on a city credit card to pay an attorney for a personal lawsuit filed against her. The case is pending with the Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court.
A recall attempt was launched against Ramsey in 2015, but the matter remains tied up in court. A Clark County district judge ruled against Ramsey’s argument that judges can’t be recalled. Ramsey appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court, where the case is still pending.
“These allegations are exactly why we helped launch the recall,” said Mike Yarter, president of the North Las Vegas Police Officers Association, which represents about 300 law enforcement officers, including the marshals assigned to Ramsey’s courtroom.
“We financed a large part of the recall effort because we believed the voters did not have a true and accurate depiction of what was going on in that courtroom,” Yarter said. “I think it’s pretty fitting that she would agree with all of the allegations because she was guilty of all this in the eyes of the peace officers and citizens of North Las Vegas.”
Bob Borgersen, leader of the recall effort known as Remove Ramsey Now, said that the judge’s settlement will help the city move forward.
“I think it’s the best all the way around to stop the controversy because North Las Vegas doesn’t need anymore controversy,” Borgersen said. “It’s a good day anytime you can get rid of anything bad.”
Hoeffgen was reprimanded for four counts of misconduct, including a failure to report Ramsey’s misconduct and for taking positions that were “improperly based on his perceived desires of the North Las Vegas City Mayor or the City administration, instead of on the best interests of the court,” according to the settlement.
Hoeffgen was also reprimanded for going back on an agreement with Ramsey to let her become chief judge and also failing to cooperate with her in dealing with the court’s administration.
Contact Art Marroquin at email@example.com or 702-383-0336. Find @AMarroquin_LV on Twitter.