The Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission, which investigates and disciplines judges in Nevada, is asking the Supreme Court to lift a stay on the Commission’s investigative proceedings against Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Tobiasson.
Tobiasson is challenging the Judicial Discipline Commission’s process for investigating and disciplining judges for alleged breaches of the judicial code. The high court has asked for briefs from two judicial associations to assist it in deciding the matter. It also put the Commission’s proceedings against Tobiasson on hold.
But the Commission’s prosecuting officer, Reno attorney Thomas C. Bradley, argues Tobiasson has already answered questions from the Commission’s investigator, and should be compelled to comply with the directive that she submit written answers to questions from the Commission.
“The petitioner did not object to the interview and answered each of the questions posed by the investigator,” Bradley argues to the Supreme Court. He also says the Supreme Court put the case on hold before the Commission had an opportunity to oppose the motion.
“I did an interview with the investigator. The investigator determined there was no wrongdoing and yet they are insisting on going forward, asking many of the same questions I already answered,” Tobiasson said in a message to the Current. “The process is flawed, unfair and unconstitutional and I am merely asserting my rights as a human being and citizen.”
The Commission’s own investigative report found Tobiasson did not use her position as a Justice of the Peace in 2015 when she informed police of an alleged teen prostitution ring operating out of Top Knotch, a former apparel store on Spring Mountain Road in Las Vegas. The investigator also found no violation when Tobiasson failed to immediately recuse herself in a case involving a defendant who may have posed a threat to Tobiasson’s daughter.
Tobiasson’s attorney, William Terry, argues the procedure denies Tobiasson and other judges due process, absent the filing of any formal charges. A bill before state lawmakers this session makes the same argument.
But the Commission argues that answering written questions with the assistance of counsel gives judges more due process.
“This part of the investigation is the information-gathering stage. The questions are designed to focus the judge’s response to the complaint on the issues which are of most concern to the Commission. This opportunity to explain the situation actually increases the judge’s due process rights,” the Commission’s motion says.
But why would a judge incur the expense of an attorney absent the filing of formal charges?
Bradley did not respond to the Current’s question.
Besides, Tobiasson says, most judges don’t have the benefit of counsel as they “cannot afford to challenge all of the malicious and unconstitutional actions.”