So, are North Las Vegas voters ready to recall Municipal Judge Catherine Ramsey yet? If not, how much of the financially ailing city’s funds must the judge squander before taxpayers realize a recall ballot actually might save them money?
The judge has filed a lawsuit against the city and fellow Municipal Judge Sean Hoeffgen over the legal bills she has incurred as a result of just some of her monarchical behavior. The city attorney’s office has refused to defend the judge in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by her formal judicial assistant, and Judge Ramsey is so determined to make taxpayers cover the fees that she used her city purchasing card to pay her attorney $12,000.
Judge Ramsey’s counsel claims she is out about $15,000 of her own money on top of that, fighting the allegations of Susan Forti, a longtime court employee who campaigned to elect Ramsey but says she was fired via text message shortly after the judge won election in 2011. Judge Ramsey alleges she fired Ms. Forti, in part, on advice from Judge Hoeffgen, and that the city is obligated to defend her in the case.
Judge Ramsey’s scorched-earth determination to fight the lawsuit and waste the limited resources of a city with almost no reserves is a testament to her arrogance and sense of entitlement. Ms. Forti asked for $20,500 in damages and a personal apology to settle her lawsuit. Yet the judge has piled up more than $27,000 in fees to preserve, what, exactly? Her reputation? Attorneys, courtroom staff and city officials already consider her a cross between Imelda Marcos and Queen Mary I.
That’s because Judge Ramsey has been the subject of several complaints from current and former employees who said she engaged in “hostile,” “intimidating” and “discriminatory” conduct. Those complaints cost the city $53,000 in settlements and investigatory expenses. As reported by the Review-Journal’s James DeHaven, the city might yet launch another investigation into her workplace behavior.
And then there’s the far more worrisome matter of Judge Ramsey’s on-the-bench behavior. Attorneys say she’s dismissing cases and reducing charges to punish the city attorney for not defending her and City Hall for cutting Municipal Court funding. Her vindictive approach is costing the city as much as $10,000 per month in fee and fine collections.
Do the math, North Las Vegas. Judge Ramsey is deliberately depriving city government of up to $120,000 per year in revenues. She’s costing city government tens of thousands of additional dollars in settlement and investigatory costs. She allowed a private attorney to collect payment from a city charge card. Her lawsuit no doubt will cost the city thousands more dollars, even if the city prevails (as it should). And for all this, she is collecting more than $200,000 per year in total compensation, according to TransparentNevada.com.
It could take the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline years to investigate Judge Ramsey, provided a complaint was filed. So what’s cheaper, North Las Vegas? Letting Judge Ramsey remain in office until at least 2017? Or gathering a little more than 800 signatures and staging a recall election? We hope city voters choose the latter.