NV 8 Dept 22 2020

Johnson got the nod from our legal panel, despite several incidents in 2017 in which she told felons on probation that if they met the term of their probation, they could vote for Trump (she subsequently told The Nevada Independent that she meant for the comments to be humorous and put probationers "at ease" but that she should have just said, ‘You can vote for the president.’). One panelist said “she’s a good judge.” Another said she is “doing a good job and should be retained.” One noted that “she did have a habit for a period of time of calling in all jurors who did not appear on summons and requiring them to explain their non-appearance with threat of contempt” which was “a bit over the top, even if legal.” Nadig was not deemed by anyone on our panel to be a strong enough candidate to warrant consideration.

Johnson was elected to the bench in 2007 and is the incumbent. Prior to becoming a judge, she was a general practice attorney and represented clients in civil and minor criminal matters. She was also a judge pro tempore for the Las Vegas Justice Court and a short-trial judge for the Eighth Judicial District Court prior to being elected to Dept. 22. She has a split docket but it consists of mostly civil cases. She has presided over about 6,500 civil matters and 350 criminal matters in her more than 13 years on the bench. 

Johnson’s self-reported cases include: a determination that the statutorily permitted suspension of police bargaining agreements can only be invoked during times of physical emergency, not financial emergency; a ruling that a plaintiff was entitled to CCSD board members’ public phone records and emails; and a denial of the State’s request to admit a 10-year-old’s statement of sexual abuse through testimony by her mother and the police detective. In this last case, State v. Morales-Montepeque, Johnson based her ruling on the mother’s testimony at the motion hearing that the girl had taken back her allegations of abuse. As a result of her statement about that denial, the prosecutor sought dismissal of all charges and the defendant, who had been held in custody for a year and half (with $350,000 unmet cash bail) was released. Twenty-nine of Johnson’s rulings have been appealed during her 13-year tenure. Of those appeals, about half were upheld and the remainder were either partially or completely reversed. 

In 2019, Johnson ordered a civil attorney to be handcuffed and threatened him with jail time after finding that he had violated a longstanding order to pay court costs and attorney fees, but she ultimately released him. Johnson’s rulings have never been reversed for abuse of discretion nor has she ever been sanctioned for bad behavior or have any ethics violations. 

Nadig is a solo practitioner whose practice focuses mostly on criminal defense, but he also does personal injury work. Prior to opening his own practice, he was a deputy city attorney for the City of Las Vegas. He has been licensed to practice in Nevada for 14 years and has tried approximately 200 cases, about 35 of which were jury trials. The law school team’s research of his cases determined that none of them contained particularly significant outcomes for the purposes of voter information. Although Nadig did complete our questionnaire, he did not self-report any significant cases, saying he feels that his clients’ matters are “not his stories to tell”. 

In United States v. Morrow, the prosecution moved to disqualify Nadig as defense counsel, alleging conflicts of interest. However, the court allowed Nadig to continue as counsel based on its finding that Nadig’s client was entitled to his choice of counsel and that permitting the representation would not undermine the public’s faith in the judicial process nor support an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim because the client clearly waived any potential conflict.