Trip to isles casts spotlight
on Nevada judges

The state taps a tight budget to
reimburse them for a convention

Associated Press

CARSON CITY, Nev. >> At a time when the governor must cut state spending by a quarter-billion dollars, 21 Nevada judges billed the state a combined $28,237 to attend a convention in Hawaii last month.

Records released last Tuesday by the Administrative Office of the Courts show six Supreme Court justices claimed total expenditures of $10,237 at the four-day State Bar of Nevada convention. That's an average of $1,706 each.

The 15 other judges who attended the convention were limited to $1,200 each in state-reimbursed expenses.

Paul Brown of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada said many people still will believe the judges "went on a vacation disguised as a convention" because it was held in Hawaii.

"I wonder how much of the time they spent on the beach," Brown told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

State court administrator Ron Titus said funds for the Supreme Court justices' travel came from state general funds and administrative assessments paid by people convicted of misdemeanors.

Travel for the other judges who attended the Hawaii convention came from administrative assessments and other court-assessed fees, Titus said.

"Not a dime came from taxes," Clark County Chief District Judge Mark Gibbons said of the reimbursement he received.

"We have no control over where the State Bar holds its conventions. I liked it better when it was at Lake Tahoe."

Gibbons added he participated in three seminars and "didn't have much time for the beach." He also said he paid more than $2,000 to cover his wife's expenses and his costs that were not paid by the state.

Of the Supreme Court justices who attended, only Chief Justice Bill Maupin didn't turn in any claims for reimbursement. He faces a re-election campaign this fall against former Clark County District Judge Don Chairez.

Justice Nancy Becker claimed $1,950 in expenses, the most of any justice, while Justice Myron Leavitt billed for the least expenses, $1,377.

In addition to Gibbons, other judges who claimed expenses included new Clark County District Judge Michelle Leavitt, the daughter of Justice Myron Leavitt, and District Judge Michael Gibbons of Douglas County. He's the brother of Mark Gibbons.

State Bar of Nevada President Gloria Sturman said the decision to hold the June 12-15 convention in Hawaii was made long before the state's current budget problems.

About 430 people, including 280 members of the State Bar, attended the convention.

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