Lawyers threaten lawmakers

I've never seen anything like this in writing during a legislative session -- a letter to elected officials from a bunch of lawyers on a measure that would allow hearsay evidence into certain criminal proceedings:

Any elected official who advocates the passage of AB 193 will not receive any support from the signatories of this letter. This includes no financial or monetary support and/or soliciting third parties to support your candidacy by way of endorsement.

Are you kidding me?

So back off or get cut off, the letter says, signed by dozens of attorneys, a few of them quite well respected and who should know better than to draw a nexus between votes and campaign money. The Review-Journal appears to have the letter, too, but did not print that most offensive part or all of the names.

I will not be so generous.

Forget the very real policy debate -- the measure passed the Assembly, 34-8 -- and I understand why defense attorneys are upset. And forget that implied threats and/or verbal intimidation come all the time in the process. Who is dumb enough to put that kind of quid pro quo in writing?

The people at the end of this email/letter:

RE: AB 193 Dear Elected Official:

April 27, 2015

The enclosed letter regarding AB 193 is the policy position of the 226 undersigned attorneys in opposition to AB 193.

We ask that you review AB 193 and send a letter to the Senate Judiciary committee expressing your own opposition to this bill.

Letters should be sent to:

AB 193 is a bad law. And it is bad policy. It takes away the procedural rights litigants have had for decades in our Justice Courts. It is a substantial negative alteration of the relationship between the State and its citizens, with the citizens suffering the loss.

Two major excuses have been advanced for this wholesale loss of rights: Traumatized victims and the supposed increase in the violent crime rate.

The concern that “victims” will be traumatized by having to testify under oath and be subject to cross examination is overstated. Current law allows a minor witness to have a designated person beside them while testifying; have the court closed to the public while testifying; and provides restrictions on disclosure of the name and address of the witness.

These protections have worked well, but even with these protections, the so called traumatized victim need not testify in public with the defendant being present. The state can and does make the decision where the matter is to be presented. That is to say, it is the prosecutor who determines whether the alleged victim testifies in front of the defendant in a preliminary hearing, or has the matter heard in a secret grand jury proceeding. Witnesses testify at a public preliminary hearing because the state wants it that way. The defendant has no say in the matter.

The next argument is that we must eliminate testimony under oath by the percipient witness because it will reduce the crime rate. This argument, is, to put it mildly, ludicrous. No reasonable person familiar with the criminal justice system can seriously think that the use of hearsay at a preliminary hearing is going to stop violent crime. And yet, such was the position of the Clark County District Attorney’s office in its testimony before the Assembly Judiciary committee hearing on AB 193, as contained in its power point presentation.

The assertion that the violent crime rate is increasing is likewise not born out of the quantifiable data provided by the FBI USC Annual Crime Reports. For example, the violent crime rate per 100,000 people in 2013 was 591.2. That is the second lowest rate in the last 13 years. Likewise in the last 8 years, the crime rate per 100,000 population has decreased significantly. It went from 741.6 in 2006 to 591.2 in 2013, the last year that data is available. Using unfounded scare tactics to attempt to justify taking away people’s rights is one that is better suited to a

totalitarian regime than a democracy. We can and should expect better from our elected officials.

It is for the above reasons, that we, the members of the Defense Bar of the State of Nevada, oppose AB 193. This bill is nothing more than a “lazy” prosecutor and “lazy” judge bill.

AB 193 results in the most drastic assault on the criminal justice system. And that is why, we oppose it.

AB 193 is a “line in the sand” statute. You must either support it or oppose it. There is no other position. Therefore, we the Criminal Defense Bar, wish to make our position unambiguously clear to all our elected officials in the judiciary, legislature, and executive branches of government. Testimony under oath by a percipient witness should not be abandoned for expediency or any other reason.

Any elected official who advocates the passage of AB 193 will not receive any support from the signatories of this letter. This includes no financial or monetary support and/or soliciting third parties to support your candidacy by way of endorsement.

Due to the importance of the subject matter of AB 193 we call upon all elected officials to declare either their support or opposition to this bill. Neutrality is not an option. It is well known that when anyone tries to split the baby in the hope of pleasing both sides, the only result is the baby dies.

We have come to this conclusion because we recognize the catastrophic effect of AB 193. Anyone who does not recognize the adverse effects of this bill or supports them is not someone who we think possesses the judgment, understanding, and discretion to hold public office.

Dated: April 21, 2015

Tony Abbatangelo Joseph Abood Paul Adras Michael Aisen Dan Albregts

Betsy Allen Caesar Almase Steven Altig
Chris Arabia Shana J. Bachman Erika Ballou

Ryan Bashor Bennair R. Bateman Josie Bayudan
Scott Bindrup Kathleen Bliss Howard S. Brooks Curtis Brown William Brown
E. Brent Bryson Jack Buchanan
Dan Bunin
Susan Bush
Alan Buttell Donishia Campbell Charles Cano Jacquie Carman Michael Castillo Amy Chelini

Pete Christiansen, Jr. T. Augustus Claus Peter J. Cleary
Frank Cofer

Amy Coffee
Scott Coffee
Jamie Cogburn Stephen Compan Alison Coombs
Bryan Cox
Gregory Coyer
Christy Craig
Michael Cristalli Christina A. DiEdoardo Michael K. Dougherty Elaine Dowling Patricia Doyle

John Duffy Benjamin Durham Riana Durrett Jason Earnest Alissa C. Engler Tom Ericsson Patricia Erickson

Amy Feliciano Mike Feliciano Mario Fenu Dayvid Figler David Fischer Maysoun Fletcher Franny Forsman Heather Fraley Jen Fraser

Ozzie Fumo Amber Fuhriman Christian Gabroy Lucas Gaffney James Gallo Gloria Garcia Warren Geller Gwen Gerling Harold Gerwerter Joey Gilbert Michael Giles Adam Gill
Daniel Gilliam Steven Goldstein Xaviar Gonzales

Ross Goodman Michael Gowdy Gabe Grasso Amanda Gregory Julian Gregory Aaron Grigsby Harvey Gruber Shana S. Gullickson Gary Guymon Kathleen Hamers Marty Hart

James Hartsell
Sarah Hawkins
Dale Hayes, Jr.
Lance Hendron
Ivy Hensel
Arlene Heshmati Adam Vander Heyden Dan Hill

Lawrence C. Hill Melanie Hill Roger Hillman Christina Hinds Scott Holper

Darin Imlay Tracy T. Ip Alzora Jackson Terry Jackson Phung Jefferson Mia Ji

Kelley R. Jones Eric Jorgenson Spencer M. Judd Dean Kajioka Kevin Kampschror Mike Kane Charles Kelly Michael Kennedy Stephanie Kice Carli Kierny Gregory Knapp Haylee Kolkoski M. Kent Kozal Casey Landis Robert Langford Al Lasso

Matt Lay Nancy Lemcke

Todd Levanthal
Monti Levy
Steven Lisk
Andy Luem
David Lopez-Negrete Jonathan E. MacArthur Tegan Machnich

Joel Mann
Ivette Manningo Dustin R. Marcello Russ Marsh
Dan Martinez
Jess Marchese Jess Marsuda
Gia McGillivray Maggie McLetchie Monique McNeill Krista Meier
Mike Miceli
Gary Modafferi John Momot Michael Morey Craig Mueller Julia Murray

Ben Nadig
Melissa Navarro Roy Nelson Rochelle Nguyen Dwayne A. Nobles Rafael A. Nones Robert O’Brien Christopher Oram Jim Oronoz
Raul A. Ortiz Rebecca Paddock Louis Palazzo
Jose Pallares Patricia Palm Michael Pandullo Lester Paredes Michael D. Pariente Leslie Park
Steve Parke
Lesley Pena
Romeo Perez
David Phillips Randy Pike
John Piro

Thomas Pitaro
Jeff Posin
Chris Rasmussen
Lisa Rasmussen
Norm Reed
Marla Renteria Mariteresa Rivera-Rogers Joanna Roberts

James Robison John S. Rogers Claudia Romney Randall J. Roske Susan Roske Marc A. Saggese Michael Sanft Jordan Savage Ben Saxe

Jean J. Schwartzer Tony Sgro
Jennifer Shomshor Dan Silverstein Brian Smith

Kevin Speed Janette Speer

Scott Stienhoff Steve Stubbs Sean Sullivan Lisa Szyc

Bill Terry
Josh Tomsheck Michael A. Troiano Nadia Von Magdenko Jennifer Waldo William Waters
Brian Watkins
John Watkins Melinda Weaver Meredith Weiner Bret Whipple
Dennis Widdis Martin Wiener Kristina Wildeveld Dan Winder
Karen Winkler Nicholas Wooldridge Richard Wright
Mace Yampolsky

Abel M. Yanez Michael R. Yohay Yi Lin Zheng 


(Note: Jasmin Spells claims her name was put on the letter by mistake, so I have removed it.)