By The Las Vegas Tribune Staff
Voters should be careful who they vote for and who is behind the candidate they are planning to vote for. As it was mentioned in the Las Vegas Tribune editorial last week, those who are afraid or are not allowed to mention who their campaign manager is must be under the David Thomas spell.
Jack Fleeman, a candidate for the newly formed Department V in the District Court’s Family Division has submitted an ethics complaint against one of his opponents, Margaret Pickard, for multiple violations of the Revised Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct.
Pickard, a Hearing Master for the Eighth Judicial District Court, is accused of Misleading the Public. In April and May, Pickard published on Facebook, YouTube, and broadcast television, several videos and pictures violating Canon 4.1 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
In one video, Pickard sits on the bench in our local courthouse, listening to arguments and wearing what appears to be a judge’s robe.
That arrogance is surely the behavior of a campaign manager who believes he is above the law. “We need judges that are going to serve the community, serve every constituent equally and responsibly, not serve the best interest of those who can afford to give a healthy campaign contribution” was published in the Las Vegas Tribune in the newspaper’s May 20 edition.
Clark County voters should realize that campaign managers don’t like their clients to speak to Nevada constituents on a one-on-one basis because they are afraid that the candidate will make some compromise that would not go along with their own ulterior motive.
According to Judicial Ethics Advisory Opinion JE08-006, which expressly prohibits non-incumbent judicial candidates from wearing robes in advertisements, this is a clear violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Pickard wrongfully presents herself as an elected judge, misrepresenting her position to the public. In another video, Pickard further misrepresents that she is an elected judge by inviting prospective voters into her courtroom. In that video, Pickard states, “We are in my courtroom.” She also posted at least one additional picture to her campaign Facebook page where she is seated on the bench in a judicial robe. These advertisements are not only misleading, but they are a misuse of our taxpayer-funded court facilities. Additionally, Pickard is in violation of Canon 4.1(A) which states that a “Judicial candidate shall not…. use endorsements… from a political organization.” Pickard violated these canons as well by paying for and directing distribution of an advertisement of her endorsement by the Nevada Republican Club.
It is also alleged that Pickard has committed Campaign Finance Violations by distributing several joint advertisements, similar to the Nevada Republican Club mailer. Pickard’s partial payments for those advertisements not only represent impermissible public endorsements of the other candidates under Canon 4.1, but likely violate campaign finance laws under NRS Chapter 294A because Pickard paid for at least six jointly mailed or texted ads that benefitted other judicial candidates.
Regarding Pickard’s misconduct, Mr. Fleeman stated, “My campaign for judicial office has been significantly harmed as a direct result of the actions of Pickard’s unethical behavior, because she acted in a manner to mislead voters. Not only have I been harmed, but Pickard has harmed the reputation of the judiciary and our electoral process.”
The sad part of this is that the Clark County constituents should not blame the naïve candidate who is under the spell of a corrupt campaign manager, and perhaps a greedy attorney expecting a favor “ruling” after the candidate he supports is elected to the bench.