Posts Tagged ‘Russell’

Gov. Sandoval Says He Is Pleased With New Political Maps, Does Not Anticipate An Appeal

By Sean Whaley | 3:12 pm November 8th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today he is pleased with the political boundaries created by a court-appointed panel of special masters, and does not anticipate a legal challenge to the new lines drawn for the 63 legislative and four congressional districts for the 2012 general election.

“I want to compliment the masters and Judge (James Todd) Russell, I think they did a great job,” he said. “My understanding is none of the parties are going to appeal the decision. And I know there is a certain amount of time that will have to pass before that appellate deadline comes, but no, me personally, I am very happy and satisfied with the result.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau.

Russell, a Carson City District judge who handled the redistricting process when Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature could not reach agreement, signed off on the new boundaries on Oct. 27 after making a few minor adjustments to the maps submitted by the special masters he appointed to draw the new political lines.

Attorneys for both the Democrat and Republican parties have thus far indicated they do not plan to challenge the maps, which had to be redrawn to reflect population shifts identified in the 2010 census.

There is a 30-day window for an appeal to be filed with the Nevada Supreme Court to challenge the maps.

The Supreme Court, in an order issued late Friday, also cancelled an oral argument to consider concerns raised by Secretary of State Ross Miller about Russell’s decisions regarding the redistricting process, saying any issues can be raised in an appeal.

The congressional maps, which include a new fourth seat due to Nevada’s population growth over the past decade compared to other states, has a central urban Las Vegas District 1 that is 42.8 percent Hispanic.

Previously announced candidates for the new congressional districts wasted no time in declaring their intentions to run, and in which districts as approved by Russell.

Sandoval vetoed two Democrat-sponsored redistricting plans passed in the 2011 legislative session. He had previously rejected any call for a special legislative session to handle the redistricting dispute, saying he had confidence in the courts to resolve the impasse.


Audio clip:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he is happy with the new redistricting maps:

110811Sandoval :20 with the result.”

Nevada Republican Party Opposes Emergency High Court Intervention In Court-Run Redistricting Process

By Sean Whaley | 7:26 pm October 24th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Attorneys for the Nevada Republican Party today filed a brief with the Nevada Supreme Court opposing Secretary of State Ross Miller’s emergency petition seeking to intervene on the question of the authority of the courts to decide the state’s political boundaries instead of the Legislature.

The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 14 on questions raised by Miller on whether it is the responsibility of the Legislature to draw the political boundaries, not the courts.

In a brief in opposition to Miller, Republican Party attorney Mark Hutchison called the petition moot since the special masters appointed by Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell worked quickly to submit proposed maps redrawing the state’s congressional and legislative districts.

Special redistricting masters, from left, Bob Erickson, Thomas Sheets and Alan Glover. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

“In short, the District Court action is proceeding apace, and the court will be in a position to issue final plans during, and perhaps even before, the beginning of November 2011,” the filing says. “This timeline provides ample time for any appeal to be heard and decided by this court well in advance of upcoming election deadlines. As such, petitioner’s original grounds for seeking this writ effectively are moot in light of subsequent events and, for this and other reasons set forth more fully below, the emergency petition should be denied.”

Russell will hold a hearing Thursday to consider the maps submitted Oct. 14 by the three special masters.

Hutchison, in a late filing by the deadline today to the proposed political districts submitted by the special masters, identified a few concerns in the proposed maps.

“Despite the special masters’ largely successful performance of their duties, the court has charged the parties to identify any legal errors with the proposed maps. Legal errors do exist in the current maps, but they are few,” the filing said.

One concern cited by Hutchison is the Senate District 8 seat now held by Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas. He argues in the filing the district is irregularly shaped and not compact.

There is also a concern cited about Senate District 6, now held by Sen. Allison Copening, D-Las Vegas, as drawn favoring Democrats where it has historically been a Republican seat.

Following two public hearings on Oct. 10 and 11, the court-appointed special masters filed their proposed maps three days later. Before the maps were filed Oct. 14, Hutchison issued a statement that said the party had faith in the panel to submit fair maps.

“Creating fair districts for both elected legislators and the public has been the goal of the Republicans since the beginning of the 2011 legislative session,” the statement said.

As to Miller’s underlying argument that it is the Legislature’s duty to perform the redistricting process, Hutchison said in his filing with the Supreme Court that he agrees the Nevada constitution entrusts the task of redistricting to the Legislature, but that, “if the Legislature fails to fulfill its duty, it may be incumbent upon other branches of government to remedy the situation.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval thus far has rejected any suggestion that he call a special session of the Legislature to resolve the redistricting issue. The Democrat-controlled Legislature passed two redistricting plans during the 2011 legislative session, but both were vetoed by the Republican governor who cited concerns that they violated the federal Voting Rights Act.

Judge Russell’s Redistricting Order

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:19 am September 22nd, 2011

Here’s the just-issued order from a Carson City court room:



Redistricting Order 9 21 11

















Nevada Redistricting Efforts Remain In Flux After Court Hearing This Week

By Sean Whaley | 1:34 pm July 15th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Efforts to resolve Nevada’s redistricting impasse remain a work in progress after a proposal floated Tuesday by a Carson City judge to use county election officials to draw new legislative and congressional lines ran into some opposition.

The job of redrawing Nevada’s political lines has fallen to District Judge James Todd Russell after two Democrat-approved redistricting plans were vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval. Sandoval vetoed the measures after concluding the proposals did not follow the federal Voting Rights Act.

A close-up of one of the many redistricting maps proposed at the Nevada Legislature / Photo by Elizabeth Crum via iPhone

Russell took the attorneys representing the two major political parties by surprise when, rather than opting to hear the evidence and make a decision, he proposed using the Washoe, Clark and Carson City voter registrars as “special masters” to draw the new political boundaries for his consideration.

The Las Vegas Sun reported that Clark County Registrar Larry Lomax rejected the idea after consulting with County Manager Don Burnette.

Redistricting must be accomplished in time for the 2012 election season, which begins early next year. Redistricting happens every 10 years following the census.

Russell gave the parties until July 20 to come up with their suggestions for special masters to help with the process.

Appearing on the Nevada NewsMakers television program on Wednesday, Republican Party attorney Mark Hutchison said the suggestion caught a lot of people attending the court hearing by surprise.

“We were, I think, a little surprised by the suggestion but I think once you understood why the judge did it, it made all the sense in the world,” he said. “He’s looking for, and he said this, a nonpartisan approach. He wants to do the right thing, follow the law, and he doesn’t want a bunch of politically motivated people there involved in the process.

“Judge Russell has presented a very unique process,” Hutchison said. “He wants to have the parties involved in the process, but he wants to have people who are going to be nonpartisan and have the information so that he can do his job. It’s a very unique process that I don’t know exists anywhere else in the country.”

Hutchison said he does not believe the redistricting process will be resolved in a special session of the Legislature. More likely Russell will present a plan that will ultimately be acted on by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Marc Elias, representing the Democratic Party in the case, was quoted in the Nevada Appeal as suggesting that before special masters propose a new set of political boundaries, that there should first be a decision on whether the Democrat plans violate the Voting Rights Act.

“Maybe if we resolve the voting rights issue, there would at least be a basis for the masters to start,” he said.

Because of Nevada’s population growth, the state is getting a fourth congressional district, requiring a major redrawing of the existing three districts. The 21 state Senate and 42 Assembly districts must also be redrawn to make populations approximately equal.

There is also a mandate to ensure equitable representation of minorities in the process, with Republicans supporting the creation of a majority Hispanic congressional district in Southern Nevada.

Audio clips:

Republican Party attorney Mark Hutchison says the attorneys were surprised by Russell’s plan to resolve the redistricting impasse:

071511Hutchison1 :15 in the process.”

Hutchison says Russell’s plan is unique:

071511Hutchison2 :12 the country, Sam.”



Nevada Election Law Needs More Clarity, Says Backer of 2008 Taxpayer Protection Act

By Sean Whaley | 7:35 pm April 16th, 2010

CARSON CITY – One of the major backers of a proposed 2008 measure aimed at raising the bar on tax increases said today a court ruling upholding the right of Tea Party of Nevada candidate Scott Ashjian to remain on the ballot shows the need for more clarity in state election law.

Steve Martin, a former state Controller who is now running for state Treasurer, filed the Nevada Taxpayer Protection Act ballot measure two years ago to require a two-thirds vote for any subsequent ballot measure that would raise taxes.

After gathering 130,000 signatures, far more than needed to qualify for the 2008 ballot, the measure was challenged based on technical issues regarding the signature gathering process. The Nevada Supreme Court knocked the measure off the ballot after finding the backers failed to “substantially comply” with state election law.

In the Tea Party of Nevada case, in which Ashjian was challenged by an Independent American Party candidate, the same issue of substantial compliance was raised. But in a decision handed down Thursday, Carson City District Judge James Russell found that Ashjian was “substantially compliant” when he filed as a Tea Party of Nevada candidate for U.S. Senate and then after the fact changed his voter registration from Republican to the Tea Party of Nevada.

“The irony is you’ve got one individual who wins on the issue of substantial compliance, while we had 130,000 signatures of Nevada registered voters and we were found not to be in substantial compliance,” Martin said. “What is the definition of substantial compliance?”

Martin said the courts need to clarify the meaning of substantial compliance so future ballot efforts are not derailed as happened in 2008, when the wishes of 130,000 registered voters who signed the Taxpayer Protection Act were deprived of their right to vote on the measure.

Robert Uithoven, a political consultant who worked on the 2008 proposed initiative, said the Nevada Supreme Court will have to remove Ashjian from the ballot if the case is appealed and justices are to remain consistent with past decisions requiring strict adherence to the letter of the law.

“The will of the people and substantial compliance was clearly and overwhelmingly demonstrated in the case involving the Taxpayer Protection Act of 2008, though the Nevada Supreme Court ruled against both – essentially citing letter of the law,” said Uithoven, now the campaign manager for Sue Lowden’s U.S. Senate campaign.

“In the case of Ashjian, if appealed to the high court, the elected justices will either remain consistent with their previous rulings or give the voting public the most controversial ruling since the infamous 2003 ruling in Guinn vs. Legislature.”

Las Vegas attorney Joel Hansen, who represented IAP U.S. Senate candidate Tim Fasano in his challenge of Ashjian, said he has yet to hear from his client on whether an appeal will be made to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Fasano today said he was just getting a chance to read Russell’s brief order before deciding whether to appeal.

Hansen said Russell’s ruling appears to be “out of line” with other Nevada court decisions regarding compliance with state election law.

Martin said he would like to see the Tea Party of Nevada case appealed to give the Supreme Court a chance to clarify the meaning of the term to help future ballot initiative efforts.

“I don’t think politics are involved,” Martin said. “I hope they take it to the Supreme Court so we can get some kind of ruling on what substantial compliance means.”