A pair of attorneys vying for judgeships in Clark County filed two separate complaints with the state’s judicial review board against seven candidates in the upcoming primary election.
But the targets of the complaints questioned the motives of the candidates behind them as the deadline for mail-in ballots approaches.
In a five-way race for one of the open seats in District Court, attorney Michael Bohn filed a complaint with the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline, saying that attorney Dan Gilliam had violated the rules of nonpartisan judicial races.
A campaign flyer under the banner of the Nevada Republican Club listed seven candidates endorsed by the group, including Gilliam. It was paid for by the campaigns of each of the candidates, which also included incumbents Joe Hardy Jr., Ron Israel and William Voy, along with attorneys Adam Ganz, Jacob Reynolds and Margaret Pickard.
Bohn and Gilliam are vying for a seat in Department 24 against attorneys Joe Vadala, Dena Rinetti and Erika Ballou.
While Bohn called the fact that the flyers were delivered around the same time as mail-in ballots “egregious,” Gilliam said the Nevada Republican Club was not an arm of the GOP and that a group mailer was allowed under the state’s judicial campaign rules. The group’s website states that it “has been bringing conservatives together in Las Vegas since 1981 to showcase Republican principles and American exceptionalism.”
The judicial commission’s purpose is “to investigate allegations of Judicial misconduct in office, violations of the Revised Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct, or disability of judges,” according to its website, which does not specify investigations into judicial candidates.
Gilliam said that Bohn’s complaint, filed late last week, has no teeth.
“I could write a million complaints about a million people,” Gilliam said. “That doesn’t mean anything. It’s disheartening the direction he’s going.”
The Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct states that candidates may not “seek, accept, or use endorsements or publicly stated support from a political organization.”
While she did not file a complaint, attorney Gayle Nathan, who is trying to unseat Voy in Family Court, also raised questions about the flyer and other campaign material that she said appeared partisan.
“These are not mere lapses,” Nathan wrote in an email to the Review-Journal. “They should be taken seriously as violations of the Judicial Canons.”
In a separate complaint, filed the same day as Bohn’s, Family Court candidate Jack Fleeman attacked online videos and photos posted by one of his opponents, Margaret Pickard, in a race for a newly created seat.
In a video posted on her campaign’s Facebook page, Pickard is seated on the bench of a courtroom, wearing a black top, which Fleeman suggested could be confused for a robe. Pickard serves as a Family Court hearing master, an appointed position.
“Even if Mrs. Pickard’s outfit is not technically a judicial robe, her appearance in an all black outfit resembling a robe, sitting on the bench with the State Seal behind her while she hears a court case, is a violation of the ethics rules because it sends a powerful, misleading message to the public that Mrs. Pickard is an elected, incumbent judge — when she is not,” Fleeman wrote in a complaint to the commission.
Pickard and Fleeman are vying for the seat in the June 9 primary along with attorney Craig Bourke.
In another video posted this month, Pickard is seen walking through a courtroom and holding up a blue robe at the bench.
“Interestingly, because I’m a hearing master I’m not allowed to wear it for advertisements,” she said.
In a later email to the Review-Journal, Pickard pointed out that the state’s judicial campaign ethics allow “the use of a courtroom for purposes of filming campaign commercials as long as the use does not interfere with the performance of judicial duties.”
Fleeman said his campaign was “significantly harmed” by Pickard’s Facebook posts.