Nevada Bar opens investigation into Clark County commissioner after sanction
Lawyers within the Nevada State Bar are investigating the conduct of Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones after a court sanctioned him for deleted text messages following a vote over a contested development project.
Nevada Chief Bar Counsel Daniel Hooge told The Nevada Independent on Thursday that although the Office of the Bar Counsel has not received a formal complaint about Jones’ conduct, based on the news reports and the order, the counsel decided an investigation is necessary. Jones is listed as an active attorney and member of the Nevada Bar. Jones did not immediately respond Thursday afternoon to a request for comment on the investigation.
The investigation follows U.S. Magistrate Judge Elayna Youchah's sanction of Jones over his conduct related to the Blue Diamond Hill development and an ongoing legal dispute between the county and Gypsum Resources. The company, owned by developer Jim Rhodes, has spent the past two decades lobbying to develop higher-density housing near Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Jones formerly served as counsel for a group opposing the project.
The judge last month said in the 42-page court order that Jones was “less than candid when testifying in deposition and in declarations” about the disappearance of the text messages.
At least 10 members of the public called for Jones’ resignation at the May 2 Clark County Commission meeting, which followed the April 21 court order. Commissioners contacted multiple times after the meeting by The Nevada Independent have so far not responded to questions about whether they should take action against him.
“You need to do the right thing, you need to walk away,” Jeffrey Gross, a member of the public, told Jones at the meeting. “I’m not going to let this one go; you’re a criminal … you’ve lost credibility and it makes everybody question this board and what you guys do.”
Gross asked Jones — and Commissioner Michael Naft, who represents Gross’ district — to respond to his comments, but commissioners traditionally do not respond during public comment unless the topic is on the meeting’s agenda, according to Open Meeting Law.
Chairman James Gibson noted that the sanction was not on the meeting’s agenda.
“There needs to be some kind of task force to figure out what needs to be done when someone is caught doing bad things,” said Howell Shaw, another member of the public. “It is all about trust and at this point it’s very hard to give you the full trust that you all deserve.”
The Nevada Republican Party has also called on Jones, who is a Democrat, to resign.
The Office of the Bar Counsel has no authority to remove Jones from the commission. However, the bar counsel could prosecute Jones as a lawyer, having jurisdiction over his law license, Hooge said.