Friday, August 28, 2015

Judge Ramsey petitions to halt recall, cites state law

A North Las Vegas municipal judge is trying to end an effort to remove her from the bench, arguing judges cannot be recalled by popular vote under the Nevada Constitution.

Judge Catherine Ramsey filed an emergency petition Thursday in Clark County District Court, asking a judge to issue an injunction barring a recall election.

A hearing on that request is scheduled for Monday.

“Nevada has been a state for 151 years,” Ramsey’s attorney, Craig Mueller, wrote in the petition.

“Never in the 151 years has a judge been removed from office relying on voter recall.”

The court filing says Ramsey’s “political adversaries” are behind the recall and are wrongly relying on a provision in Section 2 of the state Constitution that says “public officers” may be removed by popular vote.

That provision says an elected public officer can be removed if 25 percent of the voters who cast ballots in the original election sign a recall petition — and if a majority of people then vote for removal.

But Ramsey, who was elected in 2011, says several other provisions of law make it clear that a judge is not a “public officer” for those purposes and can only be removed by the state Commission on Judicial Discipline.

“ ‘Public officer’ does not include any justice, judge or other officer of the court system,” reads a section of the state’s Ethics in Government law.

A recall committee launched in March said it gathered 2,717 signatures, more than the required 1,984. The Nevada secretary of state certified last week that number is sufficient to trigger a recall, though the city clerk still has to verify the signatures are valid.

A spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, Catherine Lu, said officials there discussed legal issues surrounding the recall with the state attorney general’s office Thursday. But she said they could not comment further because of the pending litigation.

Ramsey’s court complaint names the city, the city clerk and members of the committee Remove Ramsey Now, asking the judge to bar them from continuing the recall.

The recall committee has accused Ramsey of misappropriating city funds to pay for a private lawsuit, asking employees to perform personal errands on city time, and reducing defendants’ sentences arbitrarily, causing the city to lose out on revenue.

Ramsey has said through her attorney that the political vendetta against her stems from her effort to protect court funding when city officials tried to spend the money on other projects. Ethics complaints filed by city employees in March say city officials, including Mayor John Lee and his chief of staff, are pulling the strings for the recall. A city spokesman has denied that.

One of the ethics complaints says the mayor and Chief of Staff Ryann Juden met with Ramsey. In that meeting, the complaint says, Juden told the judge he could “make a pamphlet of half-truths, and those stupid low-income citizens wouldn’t know what to believe.”

Ramsey’s lawyer, Mueller, said the campaign against her is a perfect illustration of why the law doesn’t allow judges to be recalled. Judges are sworn to follow the law regardless of public opinion, and that can mean making unpopular decisions, he said.

Also, judges are ethically prohibited from speaking publicly on many issues, which Mueller said makes it hard for them to respond to political attacks.

David Thomas, a political consultant working with the recall effort, said he expected Ramsey to raise arguments like the ones she did Thursday. Thomas said he’s confident the judge will lose, helping clear the way for an election.

Thomas said the recall committee has raised about $30,000, $5,000 from himself and $10,000 from the city police officers’ union. He called many of the other donors “regular employees of the city.”

Thomas had repeatedly said he would release the full list of recall donors. But on Thursday he refused, saying he would not make it public until the Las Vegas Review-Journal sought and published a list of Ramsey’s campaign contributors.

Thomas then hung up on a reporter and didn’t respond to a follow-up question.

If there is an election, both the judge and the recall organization will be required to file campaign finance reports that include names of donors. But they can keep secret the name of anyone who gives $100 or less.

Full Article & Source:
Judge Ramsey petitions to halt recall, cites state law

1 comment:

Carolyn said...

I would like to see some probate court judges recalled!