We’re filing a “public records act” to see your meeting minutes. This commission should also comply with Nevada Open Meeting laws. We know, you want to keep your corruption private but were going to shed some light on this corrupt commission.
We thought that David F. Sarnowski the corrupt scumbag running the Nevada Commission of Judicial Discipline had faded off in the sunset when he announced his retirement last March. Scumbag Sarnowski was supposed to be out his job by June 30th, 2013. Instead this creep keeps doing what his handlers tell him. We understand Sarnowski should be out by the end of July. The Nevada Commission of Judicial Discipline is a bullshit secretive commission that hold “secret” meetings that do not comply with open meeting laws. Here, the criminals conduct their pow wow to cover up and hide, delay and dismiss claims against their friends and good ‘ol boys and girls that perpetuate their bullshit in courtrooms across Nevada.
The Nevada Commission of Judicial Discipline has dodged my complaints by not sending out notices and just completely telling me lies concerning complaints against corrupt Carson City Judges like John Tatro and James E. Wilson.
The Nevada Commission of Judicial Discipline lied to me when they told me to fax over evidence on July 02, 2012, yet the closed the complaint against Tatro prior and issues a form letter saying the commission met on June 12, 2013 to consider case 2013-059 (John Tatro)…. Then why did they tell me my case had not been reviewed on July 02, 2013 and ask me to send information.
The Nevada Commission of Judicial Discipline and David F. Sarnowski can go to hell along with John Tatro. The only way for a person to get justice in Nevada is to expose this trash to the people and get justice “the old fashion way”.
Biographical Sketches of Commission Members and Staff
(To read the biography of the individual Commission member or staff member, simply click on the desired name.)
Regular Commission Members and Staff
Karl Armstrong, Esq.
Wayne Chimarusti, Esq.
Honorable Mark R. Denton
Doug Jones, Chairman
Honorable Jerome Polaha
Gary Vause , Vice Chairman
David F. Sarnowski, Esq., General Counsel & Executive Director
Alternate Commission Members
Honorable Leon Aberasturi
Honorable Rodney T. Burr
Honorable Patricia “Pat” Calton
Bruce C. Hahn
Honorable Patricia Lynch
Honorable Janiece Marshall
Honorable Richard Wagner
Sarnowski said he halts investigations toward the end of every year, when the commission runs short of money. Another cause for delay was scheduling all the commissioners, who are busy people with busy calendars.
That didn’t explain why a complaint filed six years ago against Family Court Judge Steven Jones has gone through so many evolutions but hasn’t resulted in a formal decision to file charges. A proposed charge was submitted in July.
Because that is an issue before the Nevada Supreme Court, Sarnowski is expected to address the delay in a response he files in December.
I decided to look and see how long some high-profile cases took from start to finish.
Sarnowski said he couldn’t tell me when complaints were first filed, making it impossible for me to calculate exactly how long these cases dragged out. Now, after a case becomes public and is resolved, why would the date of the first complaint remain secret?
Lucky for me, the date of the alleged offense often is known.
Some cases seemed simple and easy to resolve, yet still took years. In two of those cases, voters tossed judges out before the commission acted.
In the 2004 election, District Judge Lee Gates donated money to two judges in violation of the judicial canons. It was all there on campaign finance reports. So why did it take over four years to resolve it with an apology by the judge?
Family Court Judge Nicholas Del Vecchio was formally charged Feb. 8, 2008, and he was disciplined Nov. 6, 2008, a speedy resolution. It involved a sexual relationship with his former stepdaughter, when she was his executive assistant, and racist and sexist comments to staff and attorneys.
Commissioners removed him from the bench, concluding his behavior violated the judicial canons of ethics.
However, voters acted faster than the commission did, throwing him out in the August 2008 primary, three months before the commission acted.
Another quickie was the case against District Judge Elizabeth Halverson, elected in 2006. She was suspended from the bench in 2007 for various antics, including sleeping on the bench and abusing staff. Formal charges were filed on Jan. 7, 2008, and resolution by the commission was completed Nov. 17, 2008, after two weeks of hearings.
Again, voters gave her the boot and voted her out in the August 2007 primary, three months before the commission acted. Without the commission’s actions, she would have been able to file for office again, but the commission banned her from seeking another judicial job.
The case against Justice of the Peace Tony Abbatangelo had its roots in his Nov. 12, 2008, arrest on domestic battery allegations. He was convicted Feb. 25, 2009, and the case was settled in March 2011 with a public censure and an agreement he wouldn’t run for a judicial office for four years. Why the two-year delay between his misdemeanor conviction and the resolution?
Municipal Judge George Assad threatened a woman with arrest on March 31, 2003, when she showed up to explain why her boyfriend, the actual defendant, couldn’t come to court. There was a transcript of his inappropriate comments. He wasn’t disciplined until Feb. 8, 2007 .
The case against Judge Steven Jones recently made public by the Supreme Court opened allegations of improper and possibly corrupt behavior to scrutiny. But it also raises questions about how the Judicial Discipline Commission does its job.
Opportunity to move Judicial Discipline Commission has passed
The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline will be looking for a new general counsel and executive director when David Sarnowski retires June 30, and the pay is a not-to-be-sneered-at $137,145, plus state benefits.
Plenty of Las Vegas lawyers might find that job worth seeking.
However, the office is in Carson City.
For decades, certain lawmakers have argued this office should be located in Las Vegas.
In the 1990s, when Chris Giunchigliani, now Clark County commissioner, was in the Assembly, she wanted the small office moved south. “Not every agency should be moved, but certain ones, including the Judicial Discipline Commission, should be here,” she said. “Where are the majority of courts? Where are the majority of attorneys? Where do the majority of the judiciary live? Here.”
As a state senator, Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Coffin wanted to see the office moved to Las Vegas as part of his broader philosophy of bringing state government to where the population is. “In a system where judges are elected, you’ve got to know the players and the pressure they face,” he said.
The idea is one the Judicial Discipline Commission could and should consider, but my suggestion is coming too late.
Such a move would require a two-year planning process, Sarnowski said. Any move couldn’t be coordinated with his retirement because the costs of a move would have to be built into the pending annual budget of roughly $648,000, and it’s too late for that.
On Feb. 22, Sarnowski told legislators he would be retiring June 30 after nearly 32 years with the state, according to a Las Vegas Sun news story.
He told me Wednesday that date has nothing to do with the June 24 hearing involving Family Court Judge Steven Jones, especially because that hearing may be postponed. Jones wants the Discipline Commission action to trail his criminal case in federal court, now set for August.
While it seems as if the big cases such as those against Jones, Elizabeth Halverson, Fran Fine and others are based in Southern Nevada, my review of the number of cases made public over the past 10 years showed seven involved Southern Nevada judges and the other eight involved judges in Northern Nevada and rural Nevada.
There were 103 complaints received in 2011 alone. Because of the secrecy governing the commission, the public doesn’t know the resolution unless charges are filed.
Have commissioners considered moving the office? District Judge Mark Denton, a commission member, replied, “I don’t think that’s come up.
“For me, it doesn’t seem to be a problem” that the commission’s small office is based in Carson City, Denton said. The commissioners meet about four times a year in various places and use teleconferencing. Critics say more frequent meetings might move cases along more promptly.
“The only advantage I can conceive at this time, without a whole lot of reflection, is that it (moving the office) would open it up to a broader spectrum of applicants because there are so many more attorneys down here,” said Las Vegas attorney Don Campbell, a former member of the commission.
Frank Cremen, a defense attorney who has been hired by the commission to prosecute judicial discipline cases, including those against Gary Davis and Fine, said “it would make sense, and a wise move financially” to move the office south.
Leonard Gang, the general counsel and executive director between 1994 and 2000, said when Giunchigliani asked him more than 20 years ago about moving, that it was something that has to be looked at in the future, depending on the workload and where the workload was.
The workload is here and now. But the opportunity has been missed.
By Jeff German
Count Raul Saavedra among the courthouse regulars who say Las Vegas Municipal Judge George Assad got off easy in connection with the unlawful detention of a Las Vegas woman in the judge’s courtroom six years ago. Continue reading