QUESTION NO. 1: CREATING APPEALS COURT IN NEVADA GOES TO VOTERS; WEIGHING THE PROS AND CONS

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Between now and the November election you likely will hear this phrase repeated frequently: “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

This pithy little aphorism is usually attributed to 19th century British Prime Minister William Gladstone and argues that legal redress not delivered in a timely fashion is tantamount to no redress at all — such as some court cases here in Nevada that are still pending, though most of the original parties have long since died.

It is the favorite argument proffered by advocates for setting up an appeals court in Nevada, even though voters rejected similar proposals in 2010 and 1992.

Nevada Supreme Court protest

Nevada Supreme Court protest

Actually, that is not the strongest argument for ballot Question No. 1. You see, in order to keep up with its truly monumental caseload, the Nevada Supreme Court has over the past years resorted to disposing of most cases with non-precedential memorandum, or what are called unpublished opinion, since these can be prepared quicker and more easily than a full blown opinion. The case is settled but the ruling sets no precedent for similar cases, and thus offers no guidance for the courts, attorneys and parties. The same legal ground gets plowed over and over, wasting time and money for litigants and taxpayers.

“The published opinions that establish guidance on unsettled questions of Nevada law, as a percentage of the number of total dispositions, has declined over the years to where it now hovers between 3 and 4 percent,” the court reported in its fiscal year 2013 annual report.

The Nevada Supreme Court handles everything from appeals for driver’s license revocations to appeals in family law, foreclosure mediation, business, and death penalty cases.

At the urging of the justices, the 2013 Nevada Legislature passed SJR14, which would, if approved, create the Court of Appeals. But it would not be just another layer of judicial bureaucracy between the 171 district court judges and the seven-member Supreme Court. It would be a push-down court.

Nevada Supreme Court

Nevada Supreme Court

All appeals would go straight to the Supreme Court, but about a third of all cases, estimated to be about 700 a year, would be sent to the three-justice appeals court — such as timely cases involving child custody and criminal convictions.

The Nevada Constitution requires mandatory review of all cases, but the appellate court would allow discretionary review. The few cases anticipated to be appealed from the intermediate court would have been thoroughly reviewed and the high court could make short work of those cases.

The 2013 Annual Report of the Nevada Judiciary indeed shows the state’s high court carrying a huge caseload. Of the 10 states that do not have an appellate court, the report showed Nevada had the highest caseload by far — 2,333 cases compared to the second highest of 1,524 in West Virginia and 910 in third highest New Hampshire. That caseload means there are 333 cases for each of the seven Nevada justices. The American Bar Association recommends no more than 100 cases.

In a comment to the 2013 Legislature, Chief Justice Kris Pickering said, “In 2012, filings exceeded the dispositions and will likely continue to do so. Delayed dispositions and lack of precedent by which citizens can predict outcomes and regulate themselves are the result. This hurts not only citizens whose cases are delayed but Nevada’s nascent economic recovery as well.”

If approved by the voters, the appeals court would be housed in the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, closer to the vast majority of parties in legal disputes and thus saving time and money.FRAUD UPON THE COURT Reno, NV Judge Patrick Flanagan and 5 Nevada Supreme Court Justices completely fabricated an entire case

The cost of implementing the Court of Appeals is estimated to be $1.5 million a year to pay for the three judicial positions as well as staff — one executive legal assistant and two law clerks per judge. Since the Supreme Court is expected to spend less due to this intermediate court the total increased cost to taxpayers should be less than $1.5 million.

Nevadans are not getting the timely justice they deserve and are having to spin their wheels making the same legal arguments time and again. This time we believe the justices and lawyers supporting this measure have made a better case for an appellate court.

On the other hand, it might be cheaper to just change the state constitution so that the Supreme Court would hear only the most significant cases — discretionary review.

Nevada is one of the few states that allow high court review of darned near any case for any reason or no reason — other than one party not liking the outcome at the lower court level. Most states, like the U.S. Supreme Court, allow discretionary review. Only cases deemed worthy for some stated reason are taken up by the highest state court.

us supreme courtIf you look at the stats from 2012, you’ll find the Nevada Supreme Court handled 2,248 appeals. Out of all those cases, the high court reversed only 10 cases and reversed/remanded only 95 cases. The vast majority were affirmed, denied or dismissed.

So, does the state of Nevada need to amend its Constitution to add another court at a cost of $1.5 million or should it amend the Constitution to make appeals discretionary? The justices argue the appeals would essentially be a discretionary review process.

study conducted 30 years ago found that in only a couple of years after creating appeals courts the number of opinions written by the state court of last resort was nearly the same as before the creation of the appeals court.nevada supreme court

The voters have only the option of yes or no to an appeals court.

(Thomas Mitchell is a longtime newspaper columnist and editorial. His blog is 4TH ST8.)

Featured image from Shutterstock.com

Thomas Mitchell

Thomas Mitchell is a former newspaper editor who now writes conservative/libertarian columns for weekly papers in central Nevada and blogs at http://4thst8.wordpress.com/ Twitter: @thomasmnv

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FUCK the Nevada “Supreme” Kangaroo Court – Strippers have 1st Amendment Rights

stippersRENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) — The Nevada Supreme Court has decided a 10 percent tax on strip club admission doesn’t violate exotic dancers’ first amendment rights of free expression. vince neil

Justices ruled it was constitutional to tax the clubs and other live entertainment because the tax is content-neutral, doesn’t target a small group of people, and doesn’t threaten to suppress ideas or viewpoints.

The broad-based tax applies to many events but exempts some live entertainment, including boxing, Nascar races and minor league baseball.

nevada supreme court

judge tatroStrippers Argue Free Speech In Court, Don’t Stay In Vegas
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The Nevada Supreme Court will decide whether Vegas strip clubs must pay a 10% entertainment tax imposed by state law. The tax covers fees, food and drinks. Although the clubs have been forced to pay it since 2003, they claim it’s unconstitutional and want a refund.

Why? Exotic dancers have First Amendment rights, the clubs say. This tax violates the Constitution. Sound crazy? It depends.

Lawyers for eight strip clubs say the tax violates the right to free speech. But the Nevada Department of Taxation sees the tax as just another excise tax on business transactions. An excise tax is like a sales tax only more targeted. Some people call these sin taxes, and that’s a name that seems apt here. vegas strip bus

Several courts have heard the case since 2006. But in case after case, Nevada’s tax has been upheld so far. Now Nevada’s highest court will take a look. Most observers think the tax will be upheld.

In fact, in other states taxes on similar activity have generally passed constitutional muster. In New York, court battles brewed for years over a sales tax exemption that was applied to artistic performances like ballet but not to so-called exotic dance. The question was whether lap dances could be classified as “art” and therefore be tax-exempt.

A key suit was filed by a New York club called Nite Moves. An adult juice bar, the club serves no alcohol but does serve lap dances. The club claimed lap dances were art so were tax-exempt, but the club consistently lost. See 677 New Loudon Corp., dba Nite Moves v. New York Tax Appeals Tribunal.
strip clubsThe club’s revenue comes from admission charges, sales of non-alcoholic beverages, and exotic dances. New York is collecting sales tax on the dances. The club relied on an exemption for musical performances.

Some argued only choreographed dances count, while lap dances are more extemporaneous. After losing in New York’s highest court, Nite Moves fired off a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal. That petition was rejected by SCOTUS.

Texas also has a Sexually Oriented Business Fee, generally referred to as a pole tax. It collects $5 from each patron of clubs featuring nudity and serving alcohol. There have been court battles over this tax too, but the Texas Supreme Court eventually upheld it. Dancing may be a way of expressing yourself, but the pole tax doesn’t violate the First Amendment, the court ruled.men strip

Even Illinois now has a pole tax. Getting any tax ruled as unconstitutional is tough. And while the specific language and effect of any tax must be examined, the likelihood of the free speech argument carrying the day seems small.

You can reach me at Wood@WoodLLP.com. This discussion is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.

source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2014/01/07/strippers-argue-free-speech-in-court-dont-stay-in-vegas/

stip club

1st amendment9th Circuit to strip-club dancers: Keep your distance

Friday, January 28, 2005

LA HABRA, Calif. — A federal appeals court has upheld La Habra’s ordinance requiring strip-club dancers to stay at least 24 inches from customers.

 

The ordinance was designed to target lap dancing, which the city claims is responsible for prostitution, crime, drug use and disease.

 

In a 3-0 ruling on Jan.26, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments by Bill Badi Gammoh, owner of the city’s only adult-entertainment club, and by several lap dancers that the ordinance is unconstitutional.

 

The 2-foot limit does not deny the dancers their ability to perform, the judges said in Gammoh v. City of La Habra.

 

Attorney Deborah Fox, who represented the city in its fight with the owner of Taboo Gentleman’s Club, said it was an important ruling because “lap dancing is the financial linchpin of the adult industry and this is the end of the argument about its prohibition.”

 

Gammoh’s fight with the city began shortly after he opened the strip club in 1998 and filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s anti-lap dance ordinance as vague and unconstitutional.

 

The ordinance “unfairly impedes on (a dancer’s) right to expression and speech,” attorney Scott Wellman said.

 

The 9th Circuit disagreed. “The 2-foot rule,” Judge Richard Tallman wrote, “merely requires that dancers give their performances from a slight distance; it does not prohibit them from giving their performances altogether.”

 

Meanwhile, a Nevada judge ruled on Jan. 21 that a Las Vegas law prohibiting strippers from fondling customers during lap dances is unconstitutionally vague.

 

District Court Judge Sally Loehrer affirmed a lower court ruling that as many as five misdemeanor criminal cases filed against Las Vegas strippers should be dismissed.

 

The Jan. 21 ruling affects only dancers within city limits. The Clark County Commission in 2002 limited touching between strippers and patrons during private lap dances, specifically barring strippers from touching or sitting on the customer’s genital area. But the municipal code was not as specific, saying only that strippers and their patrons should not “fondle” or “caress” each other.

Under Loehrer’s ruling, no dancer in the city can be arrested for violating the municipal code. The city is considering an appeal.

Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Gibbons serving as a juror in Carson City

Nevada justice reflects on serving as juror

CARSON CITY — For Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Gibbons, the waiting was the hardest part of serving as a juror in a capital city criminal case.

His many years of serving as a Clark County district judge and then as a member of the Supreme Court gave him a pretty good idea of what was going on in the courtroom while jurors cooled their heels in a waiting room, but that didn’t make it any easier.

But Gibbons, who along with his other jurors reached verdicts quickly in the case involving a man who brandished a gun at an Olive Garden restaurant on July 21, 2013, said he will never forget his opportunity to see the process from a completely different perspective.

“It’s a great experience,” he said. “It’s very different.”

Gibbons might be the first ever Supreme Court justice to serve on a jury. A court search found no evidence of a member of the court ever serving on a jury, although some justices have received notices to appear.

Gibbons had to wait like all the other jurors when they were told to report at 9 a.m. Thursday. Jurors did not actually enter the courtroom for another two hours.

“Everybody was wondering what’s taking so long,” he said.

Judge James E. Wilson Jr. Carson City corruption

Judge James E. Wilson Jr. Carson City corruption

Gibbons said he figured the delay was due to either the defendant, Douglas County resident David Paul Lane, entering a guilty plea or the defense opting against presenting a defense, which then required the attorneys and corrupt  District Judge James Wilson (known for back dating court filings) to settle on the jury instructions. The second option turned out to be the right one.

Lane’s public defenders did not present a defense. Lane did not testify.

“But I couldn’t share my thoughts with the jurors at all,” Gibbons said. “I kept that to myself when they were concerned about the delay.”

In his court questionnaire, Gibbons said his only comment was to work on managing court time to minimize delays for jurors.

“I did tell Judge Wilson that I agreed with every single one of his rulings on objections during the trial,” he said.

Gibbons said he would have pre-empted anyone with formal legal training from serving on the jury if he was defending Lane.

“They are totally qualified, but I think it is better to have 12 people who don’t have any previous bias in those areas,” he said.

It was tough at times remembering that he was a juror, Gibbons said.

“At one point in the trial, the judge sustained an objection and the witness kept speaking and I started to (reach out) and say ‘stop’ and I said ‘Wait, I’m on the jury, I can’t do that’ and I pulled my hand back. It was just a natural reaction.”

Not surprisingly, Gibbons was made foreman of the jury, but he told his fellow jurors that he would not comment until everyone else had a chance to offer their thoughts on the case.

Ultimately the jury found Lane guilty of one charge of assault with a deadly weapon along with the single count of carrying a concealed weapon. He was found not guilty on two other assault charges, and the jury deadlocked on the fourth assault count.

Gibbons showed up for the jury selection on Monday, doing his civic duty like everyone else. But he was shocked when, later that day, he was seated as a juror.

Gibbons said he will donate his meager jury duty pay back to the state.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.

Nevada Supreme Court chief justice Mark Gibbons serving jury duty

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Not even the chief justice of the Nevada Supreme Court is getting out of jury duty this time.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports Chief Justice Mark Gibbons was summoned and then selected from about 100 other potential jurors to serve at a Carson City trial this week.

The case involves a Douglas County man accused of waving a gun at a Carson City Olive Garden restaurant last summer.

Gibbons says it’s the first time he’s served as a juror, although he estimated he’s presided over about 150 jury trials as a judge.

He told the newspaper he will tackle his Supreme Court duties in the evening while he attends the trial, which is likely to last through Friday.