Las Vegas lawyers look out: Judge Catherine Ramsey may be mowing down the law on her own terms
One North Las Vegas Judge Catherine Ramsey’s behavior is certainly ethically questionable as demonstrated by multiple lawsuits filed against her for wrongful termination and investigations being conducted by city officials into her use of funds to pay Las Vegas lawyers for representation in the suits. This article in the Review Journal questions whether Ramsey’s behavior is even legal, but because of the statues in the city, the judge cannot be removed from office without a voter-led recall.
For now, then, it seems that the city is stuck with Judge Ramsey, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be happy about it. The Review Journal has detailed the tab Ramsey’s charged to the city: $12,000 in legal fees, $149,466 in base pay for 2013 and benefits worth $216,814. With an additional $53,000 that the city has spent to settle or investigate employees’ charges against her alleged pattern of “discriminatory,” “hostile” and “intimidating” conduct on the bench, the tax-paying citizens of North Las Vegas have invested a hefty $431,280 for the benefit of Ramsey’s judgment. She has faced five formal complaints and at least two lawsuits making their way through the courts.
The Las Vegas lawyers working for the state don’t have her back, either. The city attorney Sandra Douglass Morgan “has declined to represent the judge” in the cases filed against her by former employees, and “the State Attorney General Catherine Cortezz Masto has advised Ramsey that she will not help her fight her case.”
Which, for the moment, doesn’t seem to have deterred Judge Ramsey. The $12,000 in legal fees, for example, were charged to a city credit card in a period of less than a month, and several Las Vegas lawyers have claimed that “she has inappropriately dismissed criminal charges and waged a monthslong ‘vendetta’ against the city attorney’s office.
The Review Journal’s article makes a point of emphasizing that Ramsey could face additional consequences with complaints being made to the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline, which scrutinizes “allegations of judicial misconduct. And reminding us that “nonjudicial employees could face a much swifter fate” under similar circumstances, the article raises the same question that the Las Vegas lawyers representing the wrongfully terminated employees do: why is Judge Ramsey still in office?
The two former employee plaintiffs are hoping that the publicity from the lawsuits will, in fact, lead to a voter-led recall of Ramsey’s judicial privileges. And certainly, if the cases face a jury, Ramsey’s actions of firing a faithful employee via text message four months shy of a state-funded retirement won’t look good. Other complaints against Ramsey smack of racial discrimination and nepotism in appointing individuals to administrative offices.
Attorneys bringing cases before Judge Ramsey in North Las Vegas can attest to her overbearing and domineering demeanor, and while a position of power such as a judge’s authority to adjudicate legal matters has the potential to bring with it a certain heady swagger, most citizens agree that spending governments funds to settle personal lawsuits isn’t a responsible use of the power entrusted to public officials.