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Outburst by Las Vegas judge results in ethics charges

Updated September 15, 2020 - 1:56 pm

A Las Vegas judge is facing ethics charges after an outburst directed at a potential juror during a child rape trial resulted in an overturned verdict.

The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline laid out formal allegations against District Judge Richard Scotti, who swore and hurled a pocket U.S. Constitution against a courtroom wall during jury selection in the 2017 trial of a man prosecutors said spent two years luring children with candy and molesting them in his northeast valley apartment complex.

Courtroom video captured the judge’s actions.

A prospective juror had told the judge she could not be unbiased because of her exposure to child abuse in her job as a nurse, according to court records.

Scotti, the commission’s prosecuting officer wrote last week, appeared to believe that was “a contrived excuse to avoid jury service.”

The commission alleged that the judge’s actions during the trial violated the first canon in the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct in that he did not “act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary and avoiding impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.”

In addition, the commission alleged that Scotti violated another canon that requires judges to “perform judicial duties competently” and “be patient, dignified and courteous and act and speak with decorum and maintain a proper judicial demeanor.”

Scotti, who is up for re-election in November against Deputy Public Defender Carli Kierny, has expressed contrition for the outburst.

“I was trying my hardest to provide both sides a fair trial, and the juror having two different excuses over two different days made it very difficult to do that,” Scotti said Tuesday. “Admittedly I was angry, and I did apologize. … I’m confident that, once the commission hears everything, they will decide that discipline is not warranted in this situation.”

The commission is expected to hold a public hearing on the matter, and could issue sanctions or discipline, though no date had been set.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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