(Fred Weinberg/The Penny Press) – If you wanted a heartwarming Christmas story from me, here’s a quick one—the thousands of Americans armed with a $50 or $100 bill going into KMarts and WalMarts and paying off the layaway bills of complete strangers because its just an American thing to do.
Now I hate to kill that buzz, but let’s look at what passes for the judiciary in Clark County—or as we who are refugees from Las Vegas have come to think of it, Somalia. You know, a failed state run by warlords.
Last week, the Las Vegas Review Journal (which is beginning to have a crime section rivaling the New Orleans newspaper) carried a story that just dared you to read it.
It seems that Family Court Judge Steven Jones got caught by two prosecutors in the Clark County DA’s office with his hand on or near the thigh of another (female) prosecutor who occasionally practices in Jones’ courtroom. There’s a cell-phone camera picture of the grope, although we have not seen it
The two thought it unseemly and brought the photo to the attention of their boss, the soon to retire David Roger. Roger may be the worst DA in the state (and that takes in a lot of territory), but he did the right thing here. He removed the gropee (for lack of a better term) from Jones’ courtroom.
Jones retaliated by tossing the other two prosecutors from his courtroom.
Now if Jones were a simple traffic court judge or practiced his strange form of judging in, say, criminal court, that might be one thing. But he hears cases involving foster children and custody battles. So while he’s throwing a judicial temper tantrum, kids are waiting to have their futures decided a few weeks before Christmas when stability—for them at least—is probably an issue.
Jones’ stability is open to interpretation. He is one of a litany of Clark County Family Court Judges who have seemingly gone off the deep end. This clown was elected in 1992 and has graced the headlines of the state’s news media before. He was acquitted in 2006 of domestic battery stemming from a dispute with a former girlfriend and has faced scrutiny over his ties to felons and receipt of questionable campaign contributions.
In Clark County, judges are almost never actually convicted, but they usually don’t get re-elected. The voters just keep finding new imbeciles to put in their places
You think Jones is an isolated case?
Well, in the same few weeks, there’s the case of Phil Ivey, arguably the Tiger Woods of poker. He got a divorce in Clark County and his wife did very well. But she decided to have another attorney look at the settlement when Ivey stopped paying alimony and, lo and behold she discovered that Ivey had been the single largest campaign contributor to, you guessed it, Family Court Bill Gonzales in the last election.
Was that due to Ivey’s altruistic streak of political activism?
Not exactly. It, in fact, appears to be the only campaign contribution Ivey has ever made.
In fairness, the donation was made after the case was closed. (Good Judge. Sit up and wag your judicial tail boy.) But when the ex decided to question the fairness of the settlement, the hearing was set in front of, you guessed it. And he refused to recuse himself. And the chief judge refused to remove him.
This one has made it up to the Nevada Supreme Court which ruled that Ivey’s wife certainly has raised an arguable issue and gave Ivey 30 days to respond. Ivey’s defense, by the way, was that the case was closed when he gave the contribution. Yet Gonzales refuses to go away now that it is re-opened. Film at 11.
You might be tempted to say to yourself, why do we elect these guys?
Wouldn’t it be better to have them appointed by the people we elect?
In a word, no.
Every other county in Nevada seems to elect (and occasionally throw out) Judges very well.
Only in the state’s most populous county can you see two of these problems at once in the daily news.
The way to solve these problems is to prohibit ANYBODY who has ANY interest in ANY case in a judge’s courtroom from contributing—including and especially lawyers. And, further, any contributions over $100 should bar a contributor from appearing in any judge’s courtroom during the term following an election where the contribution was made.
There has always been a certain stench wafting up from the Clark County judiciary.
It needs to be cleaned up before it starts to affect the rest of the state.