Errant assertions about her academic past cause Saitta to lose credibility

I no longer believe Nancy Saitta.

Two weeks ago, she said because students called her “professor” she believed she was an associate professor at UNLV, a job that is a tenured position and usually takes six or seven years to obtain.

Turns out she was a part-time instructor at UNLV in 2005, teaching Introduction to American Politics.

She had listed her “associate professor” position at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada on her 2006 campaign site, which was removed after the Review-Journal’s Sean Whaley questioned her.

But she also listed on her official Nevada Supreme Court biography that she was an associate professor at Wayne State University, her alma mater.

Well, that’s also not true.

And late Friday afternoon, that was removed.

When I called her chambers in Carson City on Thursday and said I had questions about her résumé concerning Wayne State University, she responded with a written statement. But she refused to speak to me directly.

Her statement in its entirety said: “I take full responsibility for the human error. While I pride myself on being accurate, I was apparently not in this case. As soon as the UNLV matter was brought to my attention, I immediately had it corrected. I contacted Wayne State myself to be sure that the teaching opportunity I had nearly 25 years ago would be correctly recorded on my résumé. The listing of academic assignments on my résumé was never intended to mislead anyone.”

She might say she wasn’t intending to mislead anyone, but when you hold a job as a part-time instructor and claim a hard-to-get tenured position, you are misleading someone.

Wayne State University officials Friday were unable to confirm even whether she graduated from their university in 1983 and from their law school in 1986, as her biography said. Late Friday, I was able to provide them with the name she used at that time, Nancy Meyer-Swink, after her assistant called to answer some, but not all, of the written questions I had submitted.

The résumé she provided to UNLV for the part-time instructor’s job said she taught at Wayne State University in 1987 and was an “associate professor; research assistant” in their criminal justice department.

“In retrospect, that description should have given me some sort of pause,” Mehran Tamadonfar, chairman of UNLV’s political science department, said Friday. For her to be hired by him as associate professor, she would have needed a doctorate, said Tamadonfar, an associate professor himself.

“She did miss a couple of classes and at one occasion she sent her bailiff to distribute class materials. I did convey my displeasure to her, and she wrote an apology to me at the end of the semester,” he said.

When she applied to teach, she was a known product, a District Court judge and candidate for the Nevada Supreme Court. She didn’t ask to teach again, he said. By then, she had won the Supreme Court election over Justice Nancy Becker.

But Tamadonfar said inquiries about Saitta’s résumé were made before the election. Apparently whoever inquired didn’t make the information public.

Saitta holds a reputation as someone concerned about children’s issues. But she also was known for being ambitious, while not the hardest worker on the District Court bench. Before running for the Supreme Court, a nonpartisan seat, she considered running as a Democrat against Republican U.S. Rep. Jon Porter.

Before the election, Saitta was knocked in the Los Angeles Times in June 2006 for her fundraising activities in 2002 in which she raised money from attorneys who had cases before her. She was mentioned as one of the judges who took campaign contributions from strip club owner Michael Galardi.

Those are gray areas. Lots of judges take contributions from lawyers with cases before them. Galardi alleged nothing specific against her.

But inflating your résumé, whether it’s in 2006 or 25 years ago, is pretty clear-cut. The academics who worked six or seven years to earn titles of “associate professor” aren’t likely to vote for someone in the next election who through “human error” called herself a tenured professor in two universities.

Résumé inflation isn’t a deal-breaker only for me.

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

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