Updated May 11, 2023 - 8:37 pm
The Nevada State Bar has launched an investigation into Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones for the deletion of text messages relating to a long-running legal dispute over the development on Blue Diamond Hill.
Daniel Hooge, chief Bar counsel, said Thursday that the Bar opened an investigation last month, soon after U.S. Magistrate Judge Elayna Youchah sanctioned Jones relating to a court battle between the county and developer Jim Rhodes.
In her order, Youchah declined to recommend an investigation for misconduct, but suggested Rhodes’ attorneys file a complaint.
Hooge said no complaint was filed, but that the Bar decided to investigate Jones anyway.
The Bar first sent Jones a letter asking him to explain the alleged offenses, Hooge said. Once the Bar evaluates the response, it will begin collecting related documents and seek out witnesses to interview.
Hooge said the Bar has subpoena powers. After the evidence is reviewed, a panel will convene to determine if Jones will be sanctioned, he added. No additional details were available.
Jones’ attorney, Brian Hardy, said in a statement Thursday that they are appealing Youchah’s order.
“Given that the State Bar’s inquiry is based solely upon the magistrate judge’s order, any review by the State Bar is premature at this time,” he wrote.
Youchah’s order concerns the deletion of all text messages sent and received from Jones’ phone prior to a key vote in 2019 that delayed a controversial proposed housing project overlooking Red Rock Canyon.
Attorneys for Rhodes alleged a quid pro quo between Jones — who was then an attorney for a conservation group that had sued Clark County — and then-Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak.
A proposed deal discovered through litigation suggested that the group would drop the lawsuit and endorse Sisolak for governor if he delayed a vote on the housing project.
Both Democrats have denied wrongdoing.
County staff had recommended the commission approve Rhodes’ project, but changed course when Jones won his commission seat. Rhodes’ attorneys have also sought sanctions against Clark County and staff for deleting messages in which they discussed the project.
Youchah previously declined to sanction the county.