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Challengers making the most out of judge’s ‘old Vegas’ antics, ethics

Judicial candidate Chris Davis doesn’t look like a pit bull, but that’s certainly the approach he’s taking trying to unseat District Judge Don Mosley. This week, he’s dotting the valley with 300 signs declaring “Tired of Corruption? ChrisDavisFor Judge.com.”

Go to the Web site and there are links to unflattering newspaper articles about Mosley, including the 2004 article telling about the Nevada Supreme Court upholding the Judicial Discipline Commission’s censure and $5,000 fine for seven ethical violations. Mosley used his judicial position and official stationery in his child custody battle with the mother of his 16-year-old a son. Mosley was also disciplined for a pattern of ex parte communications (talking with one party in a case without the other’s knowledge), and his failure to withdraw from hearing a case in which he had a conflict.

And there’s the article about a 2008 opinion about another Mosley case, in which the Supreme Court noted it was “troubled” that Mosley said he didn’t read one of its prior orders in the case.

Then there is the 2006 Los Angeles Times series on Las Vegas judges in which Mosley is criticized because of the $10,000 he gave a girlfriend from his campaign account (a legal no-no).

Davis is sending out fundraising letters to attorneys with the same message on the envelope: “Tired of corruption? A special message for Attorneys.”

His handout says “the Los Angeles Times used Judge Mosley, Chris’ opponent, as a case study for what is wrong with our judicial system.”

Talking tough in an interview, Davis, a deputy city attorney for North Las Vegas said, “Judge Mosley shows he doesn’t have the moral compass to be a judge.”

Mosley called Davis “a nobody” and said, “The only thing that concerns me is there are so many new people in this community that don’t’ know me. A certain amount of mud will stick.”

He’s hoping people who have known him during his time on the bench “know the work I’ve done.” A recent barbecue drew 1,100 people, including many Democratic stalwarts, a showing of political muscle.

So how will he rebut the Times? “The LA Times was a series of exaggerations. Most of the accusations were just nonsense.”

Mosley believes his ex-girlfriend Terry Mosley, who changed her name to his although they never married, is behind most of his campaign woes. “In 1996 and 2002, I came out on TV and said I’m not going to get down in the mud and wrestle. I have a sense of dignity and propriety. And that’s pretty much what I’m going to do here.”

We’ll have to see if he sticks to that if the race gets tight.

The nonpartisan primary in Department 14 has a third contender: Assistant County Public Defender Laurie Diefenbach. The top two finishers will make it to the November election. Hers is a grass-roots effort, having raised less than $1,000. She contends Mosley should be ousted, but isn’t running as aggressive a campaign as Davis. Does she think Mosley is corrupt? “I wouldn’t go that far to call him a name, but he needs to be replaced.”

Mosley and Diefenbach are both Democrats, and Davis is registered nonpartisan.

Mass e-mails will start going out in a few weeks because Davis won’t be able to raise money if he comes in a distant second, so Davis is putting his energy into the days leading up to the August primary, where a tiny turnout is expected. If he can tap into the “throw the bums out” mentality, perhaps he’ll overcome his lack of name recognition.

Expect more news stories to be posted on Davis’ site. Like the 2007 one where an attorney alleged Mosley tried to help a girlfriend avoid foreclosure on her home by suggesting payroll records could be falsified to make it appear she had a job when she didn’t.

Mosley has long campaigned on the basis he’s tough on crime. But this time, he’s going to have to dispute that he’s soft on ethics.

The newspaper articles raising allegation after allegation may not all be definitive, but they are going to portray a judge who is old Vegas with old Vegas values and old Vegas behavior. That’s damning to some, but not all. Assuming people read them.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0275.

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