Category Archives: Nevada judiciary

Grab the Money and Go: Nevada School Funding Case Scheduled

Turkey

It’s a turkey, no matter how one looks at it – the proposal for parents to be able to grab public money for “private” education in the state of Nevada and run off to do heaven only knows what with it.  And, now the case comes to the courts.  [LVRJ]

“The law passed by the Republican-controlled 2015 Legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval allows parents to set up education savings accounts to receive a portion of state per-pupil funding and use the money, about $5,100 annually, to send their children to private school or pay for other educational options. The program, administered by the state treasurer’s office, has received more than 6,000 applications.

A group of parents sued in Carson City, arguing it will illegally divert money from public schools. A Carson City judge in January agreed and issued an injunction.

The ACLU challenged the law on separate grounds, claiming it violates a constitutional prohibition against using money for sectarian purposes. A Clark County judge last month rejected those arguments and upheld the law.” [LVRJ]

I’m not at all sure why the ACLU case didn’t have a better outcome, because the Nevada Constitution is very clear about prohibiting public funds for sectarian use.   Additionally, I’m a bit fogged about why the ultra-conservatives in Nevada would want to allow funds for potentially radical religious instruction of any stripe.  There’s a question here – would these same people be so supportive if the private school receiving the money were, say, a madrasah?

And, it’s notable that we aren’t talking about peanuts here.  If 6,000 families each grab $5,100 every year from taxpayer funds for private schooling, then we’re speaking of some $30,600,000, or $61,200,000 for the biennium.

If  the idea is to bankrupt public education and then privatize the remnants, this is a perfect formula.  Complain that the public schools are not performing to some artificially established standard, then promote the creation of private schools, followed hard by the transfer of funds away from public education into those private “reformers,” and perpetuate the cycle of under-funded public  schools trying to compete with corporation sponsored private ones.  There’s no way for the public schools to win, and that’s precisely what the privatizers have in mind.

Stay tuned, the Nevada Supreme Court will hear the case on July 29, 2016.

Comments Off on Grab the Money and Go: Nevada School Funding Case Scheduled

Filed under education, nevada education, Nevada judiciary, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, privatization, profiteering

Locked and Overloaded: NV prisons

While the rest of the country is have at least a cursory discussion about what happens when we incarcerate large numbers of our citizens – especially young people – perhaps it’s time to look at the situation in Nevada. 

Nevada’s incarceration rate stands at about 460/100K, or approximately 16% above the national average.  There are 22 jail facilities, 8 prisons, 9 “camps,” a transition housing facility, and a restitution center. [NICIC] If there is any silver lining in these numbers, it may be that they are slowing down.  In 1998 there was a 6.95% YOY increase in Nevada’s correctional population, while in the last three years reported by the Department of Corrections (2009-2011) there have been  YOY decreases of nearly 1%. [NVDoc pdf] This still leaves us with a substantial population of young men incarcerated in the state of Nevada.

NV male prison admissions Notice that some 24% of the male admissions into the Nevada penal system are for drug related offenses.  The picture is similar for female admissions, in which we find (Exhibit 54) that 32.81% of the admissions were for drug related offenses.  58% of the total male admissions were men under the age of 34.  Approximately the same percentage applies to female admissions, 58.24% were under the age of 34. 32.81% of the total female admissions were for drug related crimes.

The current rate also places Nevada in the unfortunate category of those states in which we have more people imprisoned than living in college dormitories.

NV incarceration college [The Grio

In terms of prison demographics, 45.87% of those incarcerated in Nevada are white, 28.43% are Black, 19.55% are Hispanic, 1.83% are Native American, and 2.28% are Asian.  The Census Bureau reports that 9% of Nevada’s population is African American, and 27.5% are Hispanic or Latino. Whites account for 76.7%.  What is obvious in these figures is that while the incarceration levels for whites and Hispanic populations are roughly similar to, or less than,  the percentage of the overall population of the state; while African Americans constitute only 9% of the total population they comprise over 28% of the prison population.

Perhaps these numbers shouldn’t be too surprising because similar disparities show up when we look at high school graduation rates. The overall graduation rate in Nevada is reported as 63%, the graduation rate for whites is 72%, for Hispanics it’s 54%, and for African Americans it’s a dismal 48%. [GovSL]   It costs the taxpayers of Nevada about $20,656 per incarcerated inmate [NICIC] By contrast the total cost per student in Nevada schools was calculated for FY 2011 at $8,527. [GovCSP]

Nevadans knew when Cliven Bundy, racial philosopher, began opining about the state of African Americans that he was speaking of areas like North Las Vegas, which has a 19.9% African American population, compared to a statewide average of 8.1%. [Census] North Las Vegas has a high school graduation rate of 77.1% compared to the statewide 84.6% rate, and the percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree in North Las Vegas is 15% contrasted with the statewide average of 22.4%.  The numbers aren’t surprising given that Clark County is the only jurisdiction with an African American population over 10%. [IndexM]  The numbers associated with Clark County and North Las Vegas aren’t nearly as dramatic as those which came to national attention in the Sandtown area of Baltimore City, but they do indicate that the disparities tend to produce the same depressive effects on educational attainment and employment.

Supporting Ourselves?

At some point we need to ask if we are truly supporting our own.  For example, our state mental health agency spends about $68.32 per person in Nevada. [kkf.org]  In contrast, our neighbor to the south, Arizona spends approximately $221.77, California spends $152.60, and Utah spends slightly less at $64.17. Idaho spends an appallingly low $36.64.  Unfortunately, Nevada’s jails and prisons may be utilized to make up the gap in community mental health services. [TP]  As of 2010 Nevada had a 9.8:1 ratio of persons who were mentally ill and incarcerated to those who were mentally ill and being treated in a hospital setting. [TAC pdf] The Nevada Department of Corrections reported to the 74th Session of the Legislature that over 1,300 prisoners were mentally ill individuals. [leg.state pdf] The most recent report indicates about 12% of inmates have mild to severe mental health issues. [DoCNV pdf]

The same report noted that between 60% and 90% of Nevada’s offenders had substance abuse problems. [leg.state pdf]  It’s difficult to determine from the numbers reported in 2012 how well the prison system is addressing this issue since the report itself lists personal improvement programs for inmates without specifying which are primarily associated with drug and alcohol related issues.  One would have to know that OASIS stands for Offenders Acting In Solidarity to Insure Sobriety. Or, that WINGS is Willing Inmates  in Nevada Gaining Sobriety.  [nv,leg.pdf]

Of course, the trick is – once having been incarcerated how does a person remain free?  This is of special interest in Nevada which has a high rate of probational supervision failures. [CSGJ]

“The majority of people incarcerated or under community supervision in Nevada have substance abuse problems, and a significant percentage of those with a substance abuse problem have co-occurring mental illnesses. Treatment for these disorders is routinely mandated as a condition of release, but people are often unable to comply with this condition.”

Why? Possibly because Nevada has the second highest per capita consumption of alcohol in the nation?  Because the rates of readmission to treatment for meth and amphetamine use is three times the national average? Because we have a high rate of arrests for drug and alcohol related offenses? [CSGJ]

It would also ease both prison crowding and community displacement IF the state were to ease up on the War on Drugs.  We’ve not lost this war – we’ve simple forgotten what we were fighting.  There are probably altogether too many Category E offenders.  Specifically, NRS 453.336, possession of schedule I-IV drugs with no intent to sell, is off target if the purpose of addressing drug related crime was to attack the problem at the retail level.  Why someone addicted to or having problems with an ounce or less of marijuana, or a person who has no intent to sell a scheduled or prescription drug, might face 1-4 years incarceration at $20,000+ per year expenses, defies imagination when drug treatment programs are far less expensive. Locking up the users, who in many ways may indeed be victims themselves, merely serves to exacerbate the problem of “mass incarceration.”

“Mass incarceration has proven to be an ineffective way of dealing with crime. We need to address crime punishment as a whole; especially when our prison population is mostly composed of the poor, underrepresented communities, and people of color. The fact that priority is given to imprisonment, as opposed to rehabilitation, education or other essential social programs, needs to be address with urgency.” [Ramiezgroup]

Nevada has made some progress in its drug and alcohol treatment programs, but has been loath to spend the money required to insure that residents in high crime areas, or hot spots, have affordable access to these programs in their neighborhoods.  Frankly speaking, if we take it as progress that the prison system has emphasized treatment and mental health services then we’ve lost sight of the fact that it would be far more economical and socially beneficial if these services were provided before incarceration.

Nevada also needs to look at its Category E felony list and remove such items as NRS 453.336 – if a person has no intent to deal drugs but simply has prohibited items in his or her possession, then this isn’t “the war on drugs” it is simply punishing the addict or the user.

Nevada should also seek to improve the educational and vocational training available to its students.  We don’t emphasize early childhood education as much as we should, given there is more than ample evidence that it works. Nor do we place as much emphasis on those elements of the curriculum which enhance instruction in the basics, such as art and music programs, as we should.  Do we fund an adequate number of elementary and secondary school counselors?  Do we have a sufficient reserve of classroom aides, child psychologists, local social workers, and other support personnel?

Bluntly put – wouldn’t it be better to spend more than $8,527 in total per pupil than to spend $20,656 on an inmate?

Comments Off on Locked and Overloaded: NV prisons

Filed under Nevada economy, nevada education, Nevada judiciary, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics

Gavel Unravel: Appellate Court Proposal in Nevada

What do Delaware, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming have in common?  Ans: None of these states have an intermediate appellate court.

Nevada Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty is now among those advocating for the latest proposal to incorporate an intermediate court into the Nevada judicial system. [LVRJ]  What’s different this time,  different from the last time Nevada voters rejected an intermediate court plan in 2010?   The 2014 proposal is a “push down” system, in which all cases on appeal go to the Nevada Supreme Court but cases such as appeals of driver’s licenses revocation and inmate writs of habeas corpus could be sent (pushed down) to the appeals court.

The problem is essentially a numbers game. There are approximately 2,200 cases coming to the Nevada Supreme Court each year, and some 733 of these fall into categories that would be under the jurisdiction of the appeals court.  Each Nevada Supreme Court judge is now handling an average of 333 cases (2013 figures) which is about 100 more than is recommended by the American Bar Association. [LVRJ] Under the latest proposal the Supreme Court would be taking on 1467 cases per year, or 209 cases per judge per year.

When Question 2 came to the voters in 2010 the results were closer than might have been expected, 313,769 voted “yes,” while 53.8% or 356,356 voted “no” on the appeals court creation. [Bllped]  Opponents argued there might be a need for an appeals court, but “There may be a need for an appellate court, but now is not the time fiscally. There is no way to create an entire separate level of courts without creating funding to support it on the taxpayers’ dime down the line.” [RGJ]

The funding question appears to be answered for the moment, with the appellate court needing about $800,000 in start up funds, and about $1.3 million per year for operations. [LVS] And, the support is bipartisan with both Republican Governor Sandoval and Democratic Attorney General Masto both advocating the new system.

Before anyone jumps on that rather tired “Taxpayer Dime” argument once more, consider the costs for Nevada citizens and businesses if nothing is done.

Under the current system it is taking about two years from the time an appeal is filed until the Nevada Supreme Court issues a response. [LVRJ]  That’s two years worth of an attorney on retainer, two years worth of waiting for a decision, two years worth of unnecessary delay – and the old saw is true: Justice delayed is justice denied.

There are some important cases coming before the Supreme Court this term, one is a 2013 Lincoln County case of child sexual abuse one of the central questions of which is does the defense have the right to demand an independent psychological examination of the victim(s)? [63563] In Hallenback v. Hallenback the Nevada Supreme Court is asked to decide if in a community property state one person is entitled to a full pension earned while separated from the other spouse.  In Slade v. Caesars Entertainment the court is asked to decide if an eviction from one casino property (in this case Mississippi) means a person is prohibited from attending any event in any other property owned by the casino corporation. The corporation has been involved in this litigation since March 2013.   These and other decisions pertain to civil liberties for both individuals and businesses, [NVSC] and should not have to compete with the justices’ time amid disputes over the revocation of driver’s licenses and inmate habeas corpus filings.

On the other hand it can be argued that a person who feels his or her driver’s license has been unfairly revoked, or an inmate who sincerely believes his habeas corpus rights have been violated, shouldn’t have to wait for a decision while cases involving community property, multi-state casino operations, and defense rights in important prosecutions, etc.  take up more of the court’s time.

Neither the aggrieved driver’s license litigant nor the multi-state casino corporation is well served by having a prolonged wait for the adjudication of their complaints, and there are costs associated with both kinds of cases, certainly beyond the cost of judicial operations and administration.  To argue that the state “can’t afford” to expand its judiciary because it might “ride on the Taxpayers’ dime” is also to contend that citizens and businesses in this state will have to spend more of their income and resources on delayed litigation and adjudication in a truncated system.

Or to put it more simply – it makes fiscal and judicial sense to adopt the appeals court proposal.

Comments Off on Gavel Unravel: Appellate Court Proposal in Nevada

Filed under Nevada judiciary, Nevada news, Nevada politics

>Here Comes The Judge…Finally

>** The Gleaner offers some insight into the campaign stylings of Nevada Republican senatorial candidate Sue “The Poultry Princess” Lowden, which leads to an obvious question: Why would a person hire a firm most closely associated in the public mind with a Virginia campaign including a “macaca moment?” This was also the consulting firm associated with the campaign of Senator Wannabe Bob Schaffer in Colorado in 2008. Yes, that’s right, there is no Senator Schaffer from Colorado — he lost to Sen. Mark Udall (D).

** Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) reports that the U.S. Senate is moving forward on the financial regulation reform bill currently under consideration. [iMarketNws] Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is still complaining about the Consumer Financial Protection provisions in the bill as creating a “European style regulatory bureaucracy.” Let’s guess that “European” is the new GOP buzz word for “Frenchy,” and the word “bureaucracy” is supposed to send us onto the couch swooning with vapors.

** The banksters defeated the pre-paid resolution fund for dissolving the insolvent, but the modifications still incorporate “No Taxpayer Bank Bailing” under the terms of Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) Amdt 3737 which categorically forbids the use of taxpayer funds for bailing out the banks. Senator Boxer’s amendment passed 96-1, with only Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) voting against it. [vote 130] Pending modifications to the Financial Regulatory Reform bill now require banks to pay for a resolution fund after the declaration of a banks bankruptcy.

** Congratulations to Judge Gloria M. Navarro, confirmed by the U.S. Senate yesterday as a judge for the District of Nevada. Judge Navarro was confirmed 98-0. [vote 128] The 2002 Nevada Public Lawyer of the Year [Reid] was nominated on December 24, 2009, and her hearings were held by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. [LVSun] Judge Navarro’s confirmation was held up until yesterday amid the log jam of pending nominations as Senate Republicans slow-walked confirmations during this session. Judge Navarro replaces former District Judge Brian Sandoval.

Comments Off on >Here Comes The Judge…Finally

Filed under financial regulation, Lowden, Nevada judiciary

>Overnight Express: Right is Wrong, Mortgages and Other Meltdowns

>“Unsealing of lawsuits requires tighter rules, experts believe” [LVRJ] Clark County (NV) District Court Judge Kathy Hardcastle told the Nevada Supreme Court’s Commission on Preservation that “she has opened sealed lawsuits for police and the state’s Judicial Discipline Commission without a warrant and without notifying the litigants involved.”

Support the Troops?
The “Support the Troops” rhetoric from the conservatives rings more hollow each day. Oh, the outrage when John Kerry muffed a joke in November 2006, and the conservatives cried, “He’s disrespecting the troops, he’s denigrating their intelligence and education” [BG] and “House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, White House press secretary Tony Snow, and a pair of 2008 Republican presidential hopefuls — Governor Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain of Arizona — also demanded that Kerry apologize.” [BG]

So, one might think that the conservatives would be all over Montana radio personality Dave Rye for patently stating that Staff Sgt. Yance Gray wasn’t sufficiently educated to use the word “recalcitrant” in his contribution to the New York Times op-ed piece in which U.S. soldiers questioned Bush Administration policy in Iraq. [IntellDis] Rye didn’t muff a joke when he posted this response to a Billings Gazette article: “Pardon my skepticism, and certainly no disrespect for the dead Montana soldier, but in my time in the Army I never heard such a word as “recalcitrant” escape the lips of any Staff Sergeant. I doubt if it’s spoken all that much in Ismay, either. The soldiers had the help and probably the encouragement of a writer with an agenda, from a newspaper which has always had one. Its continually declining circulation now mainly consists of those who want desperately to consider themselves sophisticated as well as compassionate, even if that means always branding the U.S. as the chief villain on the world stage—-in fact, especially if it does. I await the inevitable onslaught from outraged liberals. (Is there any other kind?) ” The onslaught emerged in the additional commentary attached to the article. Rye tried rather lamely to re-assert his contention that the Times “wrote” the op-ed by comparing the paper’s coverage of the controversy over the exclusion of women by the Augusta golf club to that of other, unspecified papers, and then left the page.

Will Democrats call on House Minority Leader Boehner (R-OH), White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, and presidential candidates Romney and Giuliani to apologize for this public demeaning of the intelligence and education of members of our Armed Forces? [DKos] [MYDD]

How many Republicans vaunting their support for American Values apologized to the Stewart family, Fernley, NV for making the widow of Sgt. Patrick Stewart wait for over a year to put a plaque on her husband’s grave? [WaPo]

Speaking of widows and no apologies, we discover that GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani spent part of September 11 with 9/11 widow-reviling Ann Coulter at Sean Hannity’s “Freedom Concert.” Coulter on widows: “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.” [TPM election central] Giuliani’s bash back ad supporting General Petraeus omitted a pertinent detail: He forgot to get Petraeus’s permission to use the photo. Petraeus spokeman Col. Steven Boylan: “General Petraeus has not condoned the use of his photo in political ads. Use of his photos in recent ads was without his consent or advance knowledge.” [TPMec]

The House Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the “State of the Department of Veterans Affairs” on September 18, 2007. [Vet.House] The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs reports that the VA “continues to skew its waiting time stats.”

MessO’Potamia:
“We are further than ever from National reconciliation: former Iraqi PM Ayad Allawi interview with Der Speigel” [DerSpeigel]

“Sadr group quits Iraq ruling bloc: political movement loyal to Moqtada Sadr has withdrawn from Iraq’s governing Shia alliance” [BBC] “Iraq Sunni mourners vow revenge” [BBC] “US accuses Iran over attacks” [BBC] “Iran strategy divides Bush administration” [IHT] “Bush administration officials said a disagreement in the administration had delayed a decision over whether to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or a unit of it, a terrorist organization and subject to increased financial sanctions. While White House officials and members of the vice president’s staff have been pushing to blacklist the entire Revolutionary Guard, the officials said, officials at the State and Treasury departments are pushing for a narrower approach that would list only the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force as well as companies and organizations with financial ties to that group. The designation would set into motion a series of automatic sanctions that would make it easier for the United States to block financial accounts and other assets controlled by the group.” “Bush setting America up for war with Iran: Pentagon planners have developed a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran” [Telegraph UK] “Pentagon and CIA officers say they believe that the White House has begun a carefully calibrated programme of escalation that could lead to a military showdown with Iran.” (emphasis added)

“Police to question Olmert on Monday” – Israeli police will question Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on allegations that he tried to help billionaire friends in the sale of the Bank Leumi before becoming taking office. [JeruPst]

Fiscal Near-esponsibility:
What was that again about Republicans being fiscally responsible? “Defense, Homeland Security can’t pass audits: Disorganized records leave big-budget agencies vulnerable to waste, fraud” [MSNBC] [beSpacific]
See: Federal Financial Management Report 2006, OMB pdf Interesting, the Department of Agriculture’s Food Stamp program, often a target of GOP charges of abuse, “has an error rate in payment accuracy and recovery auditing of less than 6%, the lowest error rate in the history of the program.”

Sun Microsystems has backed out of a GSA multiple award contract “amid an ongoing investigation into the contract’s renewal and the company’s pricing for information technology products and services.” [GovExec] GSA Administrator Lurita Doan has asked for a third party review. [FCW]

The Senate Judiciary Committee will conduct a hearing on examining approaches to corporate fraud prosecutions and attorney-client privilege, September 18, 2007. [Jud.Sen]

“GAO finds President’s 2005 Social Security tour cost taxpayers millions” – $2.8 million. [Oversight.house] [report.pdf]

Health, Safety, and Security:
“FBI faces DNA backlog nearing 200,000” [Federal Times]
“Federal Agencies knew of diacetyl dangers and kept silent” [OMBwtch]
“Minnesota takes the lead in e-cycling: five state legislatures took steps this year to curb the threat of toxic waste created by the proliferation of discarded computer gear.” [Pew]
“What will become of Tuvalu’s climate refugees? [DerSpeigel]
“The United States has 9,811 professional food inspectors” [PPI] That would be for $850 billion worth of farm and food products, and 2.31 million tons of imported seafood.

Mortgage Meltdown:
“Countrywide caught in mortgage spiral” [LV Sun] “Housing Boom over as UK bank chaos grows” [Guardian UK] “Global credit crunch reaches new dimension” [IHT] “Angry savers force Northern Rock to be sold” [Telegraph UK]

“The House Financial Services Committee will hold legislative and regulatory options hearing for minimizing and mitigating mortgage foreclosures” Secretaries Paulson, Jackson, and Fed. Chr. Bernanke are scheduled to testify on September 20th. [HFSC]

Civil Rights and Wrongs:
“Skelton bill to restore habeas corpus: ACLU applauds House Judiciary Action” [ACLU]
“Intelligence director to testify in House Judiciary Committee, members request more details on surveillance activities.” [house.judiciary]
“SPLC sues leading Klan group over beating” [SPLC] “Are Eastern German police soft on Neo-Nazis? State assembly to probe allegations” [DerSpeigel]
“New Florida law would restrict voter registration” …”Florida’s new law will impose escalating penalties on voter registration groups that do not file new registrant’s forms within a limited time frame. The rules also hold organizations liable for innocent mistakes, a third party’s malicious acts (including those of disgruntled employees or political opponents), and potentially even the state’s mishandling or loss of applications. After the original registration law went into effect in 2006, the League of Women Voters of Florida stopped registering voters for the first time in its 67-year history. The AFL-CIO and SEIU also ceased their registration efforts.” [Brennan Center]

Comments Off on >Overnight Express: Right is Wrong, Mortgages and Other Meltdowns

Filed under civil liberties, ecology, Economy, Iran, Nevada judiciary, Veterans

>RJ throws a fit: Privacy at Risk?

>The Las Vegas Review Journal evidently finding discussions of Nevada Assembly bills for campaign disclosure reform, water issues, and funding for education and child welfare too mundane, fills its Sunday online edition with articles about “sealed court cases” with very little context for arguing why said cases should be unsealed — or not sealed in the first place. [LVRJ] [LVRJ] [LVRJ] This is especially interesting given that the explanation for sealing cases is presented in one of the articles: “Elizabeth Gonzalez, presiding judge over the Clark County Civil Court, said lawsuits are sealed when they deal with a company’s proprietary information or trade secrets, the medical condition of a minor or the victim of sexual assault, and when the plaintiff and defendant agree a case should be confidential.” [LVRJ]

It would be easy to argue that all cases should be open to public inspection. After all, “transparency” is the buzz word in government these days, and that some automobile accident cases remained sealed argues that the public has a right to know if there has been corporate malfeasance. A hospital group in Florida tried to seal information about a woman’s own medical condition from her in a widely publicized and tragic case.

What do we really need to know?
On the other hand, no company should be required to divulge proprietary information without a profound public need to know, case in point the source code for voting machines. If there is no such profound public need, or if the information can be obtained by other means, (testing?) then unsealing records accomplishes little but creating another invasion of privacy.

Nor should medical records of a minor be subject to public scrutiny, and victims of sexual assaults ought to be given the benefit of anonymity should they choose to retain it.

Protecting plaintiffs? The articles offer some specific examples of “covering” cases involving consumer safety, malpractice, and other egregious activities, but without noting whether it might have been plaintiffs who asked that records be sealed. Concerning the litigation about the assault of two elderly women in a nursing facility, the implication is that the defendant benefited from the sealing of records, but might it have been done to protect the identities of the two women and their families, and to save them further humiliation? Unfortunately, this is just the sort of case that tends to get attention in the media, and the newspapers may argue for the “public’s right to know,” but do not the families have a right to secure what privacy they can for their vulnerable loved ones — especially minor children and the elderly?

While it might be useful to provide more legislated guidelines for the Nevada judiciary outlining those instances when sealing cases is justifiable, it might be just as socially useful to allow judges some latitude to decide whether a case should be sealed for the protection of plaintiffs as well as defendants. In other words, calling for wide reaching legislation to place all civil suits in the public record tosses the proverbial baby out with the proverbial bathwater.

Not all lawsuits are created equal. Nor do we find in the Review Journal’s list of litigants any indication of how many of the sealed cases might fall close to the “nuisance” class, if not actually reside in that category. For example, litigation concerning a real estate developer could be such that the public might be educated about construction problems — or, could the contractor be the target of an individual whose motives for launching lawsuits are purely personal, spiteful, and in some cases just plain whacky.

If, as the Review Journal points out [LVRJ] those sealed cases represent only a fraction of one percent of the 140,000 lawsuits filed between 2000 and 2006, then why this veritable tempest in the Review Journal’s teapot?

Comments Off on >RJ throws a fit: Privacy at Risk?

Filed under Nevada judiciary, privacy