In reading the unending avalanche of negative publicity and universal condemnation of Clark County District Court Judge Richard Scotti’sdecision on blocking the release of those Mandalay Bay shooting autopsy reports, a nagging question keeps coming to mind: What’s the other side of the story?
There’s got to be two side to the story, right? I mean, that’s what mom taught us growing up. So where is it?
Well, here’s the problem…
First, the case surrounds the autopsy report of shooting victim Chuck Hartfield – an off-duty police officer, military veteran, husband, father and youth football coach. Officer Hartfield’s widow filed a lawsuit attempting to block the release of her late hero-husband’s autopsy report; a case that until recently, remained open.
As such, Judge Scotti has not been allowed to comment on it or defend himself.
The reason the case was still open despite the public reports that Scotti’s decision was overturned is that the Nevada Supreme Court decision was handed down by a three-judge panel, not the entire court. So an appeal to the full court was still possible even though the outcome would likely be the same (which it was).
Secondly, even though Judge Scotti is an elected official, all elected officials aren’t created equal. Unlike, for example, county commissioners and state legislators, Nevada judges aren’t allowed to hire campaign advisers or public relations professionals to respond to such public controversies until the year of their re-election – which in Judge Scotti’s case isn’t until 2020.
I’ve known Judge Scotti for a number of years. And I’ve found him to be reasonable, thoughtful, compassionate and a strong advocate for the rule of law. As such, the depictions of him in the press as someone hostile to the First Amendment and a coddler of criminals are totally in contradiction of the man I know.
So I did some checking and here’s a recap of the timeline of the controversy surrounding the release of those autopsy reports…