Legislators vote to appeal Carson City judge’s ruling in state tax lawsuit
December 30, 2019
On a party line vote, the Legislative Commission voted Monday to appeal the ruling disqualifying legislative lawyers from representing Democrats in the lawsuit over the constitutionality of two tax bills.
Carson District Judge Todd Russell in November disqualified LCB from representing the majority Democrats in the Senate but allowed the legal division to stay in the case to represent the interests of the Legislature as a whole.
Republicans headed by Minority Leader James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, argued and Russell agreed that LCB can’t represent one group of lawmakers against another group of lawmakers because the legal division represents the entire Legislature.
“It appears to this court there is a need for LCB to maintain neutrality with respect to all members of the Legislature,” Russell said in the November hearing.
He told both sides the individual lawmakers should either be dismissed from the lawsuit or they need to get private counsel.
His ruling, if it stands, would require Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro of Las Vegas, Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall and Senate Secretary Claire Clift to get their own lawyers while LCB would represent only the interests of the Legislature as a whole.
Chief litigation counsel Kevin Powers told the commission Monday the ruling must be appealed because it would apply not just to litigation but all legal services. He said the ruling raises “serious questions” whether LCB legal would even be able to provide bill drafting if one group of lawmakers opposes the requested bill.
Powers said the appeal is needed to protect the integrity of LCB legal. He asked for a vote to direct LCB to take all actions necessary to overturn the disqualification.