Clark County commissioners acknowledge need to improve after Justin Jones’ court sanction
Six days after the Nevada Bar opened an investigation into the conduct of attorney and Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones after a court sanctioned him for deleted text messages following a vote over a contested development project, his fellow commissioners acknowledged they needed to improve their records processes and regain the public’s trust.
The Tuesday discussion came after several participants in public comment periods called for Jones’ resignation during the May 2 meeting.
“It is all about trust and at this point it’s very hard to give you the full trust that you all deserve,” Howell Shaw, a member of the public, told commissioners at the meeting earlier this month.
Jones has been a Clark County commissioner since 2019 and represented District 9 in the Nevada State Senate from 2013 to 2014, serving as the assistant majority whip during that time.
Despite several attempts to contact commissioners, none responded to requests to comment from The Nevada Independent about whether the commission would take action against Jones following the May 2 meeting.
However, Chairman Jim Gibson suggested on Tuesday that it was the county’s practices — not specific individuals — that needed change.
“I think most of the things we need to improve upon are process related as opposed to people,” Gibson said.
Gibson went on to say he would like to see more efficient public records keeping practices, an attempt to be clear and consistent with public records requests and possible human resources ethics training within the county to ensure transparency.
“It is the right opportunity, the right time, to take a hard look,” Gibson said. “I think that as we work to improve the processes, and to restore the reputation — should any have been lost in this county — that we work to shore up things that are leaking, that need help.”
Fellow commissioners Tick Segerblom and Marilyn Kirkpatrick agreed with Gibson that the county needs to improve its public records practices.
“I think for too long since I've been here the default is just deny and litigate,” Segerblom said. “Consequently, we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars both on our lawyers and their lawyers, losing.”
Segerblom said the state Supreme Court has given the county guidance on how to redact documents.
“The good news is we made a really good record of the Supreme Court. So I think a lawyer could come in and look at what the Supreme Court has told us, and use that as the model going forward about what we should or shouldn't redact. But I think we've gone way overboard in not disclosing things that really are not something we should be concerned about. We want the public to know what we do. And so I support that and support the county manager to look into it.”
Kirkpatrick said she agreed.
Updated 11:50 a.m. on 5/16/2023 to include Justin Jones is also an attorney. Updated at 2:15 p.m. on 5/16/2023 to clarify characterization of Gibson's comments on what needs improvement.