Nevada has a long and storied history of dreadful judicial campaigns, lagging perhaps only New York and Illinois in overall election dysfunction. As one relatively recent example, three years a Las Vegas judge falsely claimed the endorsement of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a badly photoshopped advertisement.
The latest questionable developments come in the form of two complaints filed with the state judicial review board by current judicial candidates, alleging that some of their opponents have violated various campaign and ethics rules. The more intriguing of the two complaints alleges that Family Court candidate Margaret Pickard posted a video to Facebook in which she sat on the bench in a courtroom in an outfit closely resembling a judicial robe — intimating, incorrectly, that she was already an incumbent judge.
Ms. Pickard did not actually don a judicial robe for her ad, but her dress is strikingly similar to a judicial garment. In any event, I will let readers decide for themselves.
I have a guest post up at the IAALS Blog, which looks at a renewed effort to survey attorneys about judicial performance in Nevada. But unlike formal judicial performance evaluation (JPE) programs in other states, these surveys will be sponsored by the state’s largest newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Another difference: the surveys are designed in part to identify poor-performing judges this fall so as to attract election challengers for 2020. I find this second aspect particularly uncomfortable and largely inconsistent with the voter education and self-improvement goals of typical JPE programs, but judge for yourself.
One persistent theme on this blog is that courts are entirely dependent on other entities for their judicial staffing, and must scramble when those entities are not responsive to those staffing needs. This article offers yet another data point, discussing the ongoing federal judicial vacancies in Nevada, and the concomitant growth of the federal caseload in that jurisdiction.
Las Vegas judge Heidi Almase has come under criticism after a photoshopped campaign sign showed her standing with actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Johnson has not endorsed anyone in the campaign, and in the wake of the kerfuffle Almase fired her campaign manager. No word on whether the judge will face an ethics investigation.
Nevada’s state courts have long allowed access to news cameras, provided that the footage is used for informational or educational purposes. Last week, the Nevada Supreme Court unanimously concluded that footage of a murder trial, which was recorded for a reality TV series about local prosecutors, fell within the “informational or educational” definition.
Used of the video was challenged by Michael Solid, whose murder trial was partially recorded by production company My Entertainment TV for use on “Las Vegas Law,” a cable reality show. Solid argued that the video footage had a commercial advertising purpose rather than an information or educational one. But the state supreme court rejected that argument, finding that “under the plain language” of the rule governing courtroom cameras, My Entertainment TV was a “news reporter.”