weather icon Clear

Nevada retirement system must release pension information, judge rules

CARSON CITY — The state retirement system must release the names and pension information of tens of thousands of retired public workers sought by a conservative policy group, a state judge ruled.

The order signed Tuesday by District Judge James Wilson gave the Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada five days to comply with the information request from Nevada Policy Research Institute.

Joseph F. Becker, chief legal officer and director of NPRI’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation, hailed the ruling.

“NPRI is delighted that the court has once again weighed in strongly on the side of transparency, and once again with respect to PERS,” Becker said in an email. “As evidenced by the recent lawsuits against the agency, the courts need to crack down on government entities, such as PERS, that thumb their noses at the Nevada Public Records Act’s requirements for disclosure.”

Chris Nielsen, PERS general counsel, said the retirement system is reviewing the order and has not decided if it will appeal.

“This was a challenging case in that it involves weighing the interests of transparency with the privacy interests of tens of thousands of PERS retirees, especially given there are specific confidentiality statutes on the books,” Nielsen said.

NPRI sought retiree information for fiscal year 2014. In 2013, the Nevada Supreme Court in a case brought by Reno Newspapers ruled that individual retiree folders were confidential but information in them was not.

PERS, in its court filings, cited Nevada administrative codes that says an agency “is not required to create a public record to satisfy” an information request.

But Wilson in his order chastised the agency for omitting another part of that sentence that says an agency “may do so at the discretion of the agency if doing so is reasonable.”

“PERS failure to indicate it was quoting only part of the sentence seems a bit deceptive,” Wilson wrote.

Following the previous Supreme Court ruling, PERS removed names of retirees from reports it sends to its actuary, according to testimony in a hearing on the NPRI petition.

“This court understood this testimony to mean PERS eliminated retiree names from the report it sends to its actuary in part because of the Reno Newspapers decision,” Wilson wrote in his order. “By eliminating retiree names from the report for the actuary, PERS can respond to requests for information that include a request for retiree names by stating no such document exists.”

Given that PERS altered its procedure “the court concludes that PERS does have a duty to create a document that contains the requested information.”

Wilson also rejected arguments from PERS that releasing the information would make retirees targets for cybercrime, calling the argument “hypothetical and speculative.”

He ordered PERS to create a document for 2014 that contains retiree names, years of service credit, gross pension benefit amount, year of retirement and last employer. Wilson also said NPRI was entitled to costs and attorney fees, but PERS can charge it for actual costs to produce the records.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3821. Follow@SandraChereb on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Accused murder mastermind Frank LaPena is granted a pardon - VIDEO
A onetime Las Vegas casino bell captain who spent 25 years in prison as the accused mastermind in a notorious 1974 contract murder won his last legal battle for freedom Wednesday when the state Pardons Board granted him a conditional pardon restoring all his civil rights. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Middle: Nonpartisan voters and the 2020 election
How will the growing segment of nonpartisan or independent voters — those who have not registered with either political party, or who have left partisan politics behind — vote in 2020?
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - VIDEO
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - VIDEO
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yucca Mountain bill in House faces steep climb

A House committee will consider a bill Tuesday that would proceed with development of the Yucca Mountain project, but it faces an uncertain future on the floor and in the Senate.