Clark County judicial candidate Joanna Kishner on Friday said she feels vindicated by a federal judge’s finding that the state judicial discipline commission had unconstitutionally censured her.
Late Thursday Chief U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt issued a temporary restraining order stating that parts of the Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct was “unconstitutionally vague,” and was wrongly applied to Kishner’s case.
The commission’s Standing Committee on Judicial Ethics and Election Practices on Monday publicly censured Kishner after ruling she knowingly made reckless statements that omitted facts about her opponent, Philip Dabney, during a joint television appearance.
Hunt ordered the committee to immediately rescind its censure and remove it from the website, which was done at about 11 a.m. Friday.
“The Court finds that the continued publication and dissemination of the Committee’s erroneous decision constitutes irreparable harm to Kishner because the decision violated her First Amendment rights,” Hunt’s order stated.
A censure carries no tangible penalty.
Kishner, who was out meeting voters Friday afternoon, said, “This was a full and correct decision that the federal court made and I hope the voters will realize that.
“I’ve run a very fair, ethical and truthful campaign,” Kishner said. “This was a matter of constitutional free speech.”
Meanwhile, Dabney’s website Friday continued to highlight the censure. And according to a Thursday statement from Kishner’s campaign, Dabney continued to run radio advertisements and robo-calls on the subject.
Dabney could not be reached for comment Friday.
Kishner, who is seeking the new Department 31 seat, was accused of implying on the Sept. 13 airing of the television program “Face to Face” that Dabney had engaged in misconduct to receive a $250,000 inheritance from a client.
Kishner did not mention that Dabney was cleared of any wrongdoing in the case by the Clark County District Court and the state Supreme Court.
In her defense, Kishner said she offered facts of the case and invited voters to look it up for themselves. And Dabney was given a chance to respond on the same program, Kishner said.
The committee ruled Kishner “omitted facts necessary to avoid creating a false implication about Dabney that could mislead voters.”
Hunt found that the committee ruling was unconstitutional because it “punished Kishner for not saying enough, even though her statement was true. In other words, the Committee requires a judicial candidate who makes a factual statement to exhaustively explain all possible interpretations of the facts — not her opponent.
“This application of the rule is unconstitutional because avoiding false statements is not enough to avoid censure, it requires candidates to avoid any public statement that could be misconstrued,” Hunt’s decision stated.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review journal.com or 702-380-1039.