Do the Dog Bite Laws in Nevada Need to Change?

Hello and welcome to Episode 2 of ClearCast!

We are sure you have heard about the horrific story of the child in Las Vegas that was killed by a pit bull. The fact that the dog had a previous violent incident has many folks in the Valley upset1)and not unreasonably.

In turn, two of our partners sat down for a few minutes to discuss the current state of the dog bite laws in Nevada.

Good information for all Nevada families!

Thanks for watching.

Analyzing the Current State of Nevada’s Dog Bite Laws

Transcript:

Jordan Flake: Hi, I’m Jordan Flake, and this is Attorney Jared Richards. His is a personal injury attorney. Welcome to today’s Clearcast. We’re talking about a really sad event that occurred just very recently here in Las Vegas. Imagine this scenario: A nine-year-old boy was going to visit his friend’s house. As soon as he showed up at the door, the owner’s pit bull jumped out of the house and attacked the child, a nine-year-old, and ended up killing him. There was a fatality involved with the pit bull.

We brought Jared on today because he’s a personal injury attorney, and he knows a lot about what we would colloquially refer to as dog bite law.

Let’s talk about this for a second here. Just kind of, let’s start really broad and general. Every time a dog bites a person, is the dog owner liable or how does that how does the law kind of even start to work on this? Before we even get to the fatality, if you’re just jogging along and somebody else is jogging with their dog the opposite direction, and that dog bites your ankle?

Jared Richards: Right. First of all, tragic, tragic occurrence, and our heart goes out to the family of the boy. In general, we don’t have any specific statutes that address the negligence aspect of dog bite liability. We have some criminal statutes, but it’s not for general negligence, which means we just go under general negligence law which we call just General Negligence Common Law.

Jordan Flake: There is not some statute that says, “This is dog bite law, NRS1774 in Nevada. There is just we go under what happened in previous cases?

Jared Richards: Right. Kind of.

Jordan Flake: Okay.

Jared Richards: There is a criminal statute, and if you violate the criminal statute then you automatically are going to be liable for damages that are done when you violate the criminal statute. You don’t have to violate the criminal statue …

Jordan Flake: In order to be held …

Jared Richards: In order to be held responsible.

Jordan Flake: Okay.

Jared Richards: Right, but if you violate the criminal statue your [inaudible 00:02:16].

Jordan Flake: What is …?

Jared Richards: What it is is everybody has the duty to act as a reasonably safe and prudent person. It’s my duty, it’s your duty, it’s everybody’s duty at all times.

Jordan Flake: Which is why we can’t drive recklessly.

Jared Richards: That’s why we can’t drive recklessly, we can’t drive drunk, we can’t drive distracted. We have to follow the basic safety rules of society as a reasonably prudent, safe person would do. Now, if we breach that duty and as a result of us breaching that duty somebody gets hurt then we’re on the hook for the damage that we’ve caused.

In the case of a dog the question is going to be up to the jury of what would a reasonably prudent and safe person, as an owner, have done in that situation?

This is where we get into questions about whether the one bite rule would apply or not? The one bite rule is a traditional common law doctrine where the owner isn’t going to be responsible until the animal has actually attacked somebody at least once before because they don’t know that the animal is dangerous.

I don’t know that would actually apply here. What’s really a jury is going to at and say was there sufficient notice to this particular owner that this particular dog was dangerous?

Jordan Flake: Just so everyone knows out there, the background also on this is that that dog was previously cited for attacking another dog.

Jared Richards: Right.

Jordan Flake: The question is, does that constitute sufficient notice so that the owner of the dog would have said, “You know what if a guest is coming to my home or if the front door is open and we’re just dealing with the screen door I better make sure this pit bull is restrained because somebody could come to the door and freak my dog out.”

Jared Richards: If you’re the person who owns the dog or if you’re the insurance company, like the homeowner’s insurance that’s backing up the dog, you’ve got to be careful about that because you’re going to have a lot of juries out there that might think that. If it’s already attacked another animal then it might attack a human. But, there might be juries that think the other way around. It really is going to depend on what the ultimate juries believe. What they think was proper notice to the owner that this was a potentially dangerous animal.

Now, the criminal statute is a little bit different. The criminal statue defines animals under two different varieties, under dangerous and vicious. Dangerous means that when it’s provoked it’s going to get defensive. Vicious means …

Jordan Flake: It goes out looking for trouble.

Jared Richards: Yeah, it goes out looking for trouble. You don’t need to provoke it. Once it’s been either cited as a vicious animal or you observed it be a vicious animal and you’ve seen it go out and bite then you have seven days, you can’t transfer it and you have seven days to get rid of it. If you don’t do that and somebody gets hurt then you’ve committed a misdemeanor. You’ve actually violated criminal law and you are, what we call, negligent to per se. You are just … The law’s going to assume that you’ve breached it.

Jordan Flake: That’s if they’re vicious?

Jared Richards: If the dog is vicious.

Jordan Flake: It seems, kind of, actually light because if you know your dog’s basically a weapon …

Jared Richards: Yeah, and that makes sense. If you’ve gone to the point where you’re actually committing misdemeanors then you’re going to be held viable. You don’t have to actually get to the point of committing the misdemeanor to be held liable. You don’t have to know that you’re dog is vicious. You have to know that the dog is vicious before you get criminally cited. To be civilly liable all you have to know is …

Jordan Flake: The dog is dangerous.

Jared Richards: You have to act as a reasonably sane person would act.

Jordan Flake: It’s interesting, the records show in Clark County that there’s been like 154 complaints made against dogs and only nine have been characterized as dangerous of those 154 that we kept records of and zero have been classified as vicious. I think it’s a pretty rare, apparently, a pretty rare classification.

Jared Richards: That’s interesting. Does that mean that there just aren’t that many vicious animals out there or …

Jordan Flake: Do the standards need to change to where …

Jared Richards: Or do the people who are enforcing the standards just not actually enforce them?

Jordan Flake: Right and that’s going to be the issue going forward here is people are going to look at this case and they’re going to say, “Well, what went wrong? This dog was already cited as having bit another dog and we have a …” The thing that we have here is a deceased child. That’s a total tragedy.

Jared Richards: Right, that kid is dead.

Jordan Flake: It’s just … When I heard about this story I was just shocked. He’s nine. He’s a nine-year-old kid killed by a dog.

Jared Richards: What’s interesting is that for a while there was a movement, again in various states, when you have a vicious breed of animal like a pit bull, an ultra-aggressive breed of animal or at least the public might perceive as ultra-aggressive that the owner is just going to be assumed to be already on notice that this is a dangerous animal and so they’re going to be liable in tort the first time the thing attacks because they’re going to assume they’re already on notice.

Jordan Flake: You buy a pit bull you know you’re buying a pit bull and you know what you’re doing.

Jared Richards: There’s been a counter movement in the past couple of years where you’ve had certain states that pass anti-discrimination laws against breeds of animals. I know that Nevada has also implemented that to a certain extent in the criminal statue. It does make you wonder how that would play in the tort. Can a jury still assume that, I don’t know if you buy a Rottweiler or you buy a pit bull, you buy a mountain lion, that at some point you have notice that the animal you bought does pose a danger to others just because of it’s breed.

Jordan Flake: It’s very, very interesting and I think very fertile for academic discussion is it’s obviously very unethical to look at race in human beings as a measure of whether or not there’s a potential for them to a commit a crime.

Jared Richards: We tend to anthropomorphize, I’m going to screw up the word, these animals and although … Listen, I like animals too. I like dogs. They have feelings too. However …

Jordan Flake: The stats don’t like. Pit bulls kill humans. They do. I just looked at the stats. It’s incredible. Pit bulls are the ones that … It’s overwhelmingly 70% children but they’re being by a lot of pit bulls and …

Jared Richards: Significantly more pit bulls have killed …

Jordan Flake: Than Golden Retrievers.

Jared Richards: Or Poodles.

Jordan Flake: Or Poodles or Chihuahuas. It turns out there …

Jared Richards: Not that many Chihuahua deaths.

Jordan Flake: Okay, so maybe last point here, the kid’s name was Derion Stevenson. If the Stevenson’s were to come into your office and talk to you about this case and they said, “Hey listen, we’re going throw unimaginable pain and suffering. We have his funeral costs and it’s just been horrible for us. What are our prospects for recovering in this case. What insurances are out there?”

Jared Richards: That’s an interesting question because the natural insurance that you would assume would apply would be the homeowner’s insurance. Most people in the State of Nevada or the United States of the world don’t really have enough assets to cover an injury like this. My goodness, the boy is dead. Unless you’re Wal-Mart you’re probably not going to have the kind of money to really truly compensate this family, not that money can. You won’t have the kind of money to truly compensate.

What you’d look at first is the homeowner’s insurance. The problem you’re going to have and something you have to look at is there are certain homeowner’s insurances that specifically exclude coverage of what the insurance company defines as vicious animals.

Jordan Flake: Which may be different that the state definition, by the way.

Jared Richards: Right. If I’m going to rely on statistics I’m probably going to rely on the statistics of insurance companies excluding then the state because …

Jordan Flake: Absolutely.

Jared Richards: Insurance companies are, sorry, cold heart less data driven beasts where this state …

Jordan Flake: The odd makers and actuaries know their stuff.

Jared Richards: The state does as well.

Jordan Flake: The state, yeah, a lot of interest and so forth.

Jared Richards: A lot of political interest going on. The first danger is is this specifically excluded by the insurance policy and if it is, and this is research I haven’t done, is it even allowed to exclude this then there may be additional umbrella insurance. After that you need to make the decision, do you go after the actual personal assets of the family and if you did would they just file bankruptcy? At that point even though you’ve lost a child, which is horrible, trying to take away all the property of somebody else also ruins their life. It may not make your life better. Those are all things that are difficult to weigh and sometimes it’s right and sometimes it’s not. Those are all things that that person, they need an attorney. They just need one.

Jordan Flake: Absolutely.

Jared Richards: Whatever attorney they go to they should go to one that has experience in personal injury, preferably experience in animal tort and that is compassionate enough they could actually try to walk them through some of these very, very difficult choices and issues that they’re going to have to deal with.

Jordan Flake: Absolutely. Thank you for joining us for Clearcast. Let’s just do a few little takeaways.

First of all, Jared is a great personal injury attorney. He’s my partner but still he’s a great personal injury attorney. If anybody out there has a question about a dog bite case or some other personal injury please seek his expertise. He will do a free consultation.

Second, is we would love to hear what you think. If you could chime in on the blog or on Twitter or Facebook and let us know what you think about pit bulls, about whether or not the laws are too lax, whether or not there’s any justice in this situation, what you know … You may know something about this story or have an opinion that we don’t. We love going back and reading over those comments.

Three, just thank you so much for joining us for Clearcast and we’ll hope to see you here in the future.

Thanks so much.

Jared Richards: Thank you.

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. and not unreasonably
rent, las vegas, nevada

ClearCast Episode 1: Should Home Buyers Fear Rent-to-Own Arrangements?

This morning, the New York Times published a very interesting exposé on rent-to-own agreements, with the examples cited from South Carolina and Ohio.

The article is worth reading in full, but to quickly summarize: Many folks out there are signing rent-to-buy agreements as a cheap alternative to buying a home. However, people are not aware of the terms of some of these agreements. There are examples cited in the article of people putting $10,000 into repairing their homes, only to be evicted for a missed rent payment.

Do Nevada consumers need to be concerned about rent-to-own leases? Will Nevada law protect you?

 

 

If you would like to see the video produced along with the article, you may see it below:

 

Transcript:

Hi, my name is Jordan Flake. I’m an attorney with Clear Counsel Law Group. Welcome to ClearCast and the goal of ClearCast is to take issues that are in the news and hopefully offer some kind of helpful legal insight or at least move the discussion along, hopefully in a productive manner.

I was reading the New York Times this morning and I learned something that might be of interest to some of our Nevada citizens because it has to do with property.

It seems like Nevada is a state where when we’re talking about real property and homes, a lot of interesting stuff happens in Nevada, California, and Florida. This is something that is happening throughout the country but not as much in Nevada but it’s still something that we really need to look out for.

The article is called “Rent-to-Own Homes: A Win-Win for Landlords and a Risk for Struggling Tenants”. Let me describe what a rent-to-own scenario is.

In the wake of the financial disaster home situations happened over the course of the last several years, several homes stayed vacant and big conglomerates, real estate conglomerates would come along and purchase up these small homes, maybe for $10,000 because they’re just vacant homes sitting on lots, they’ve fallen into disrepair.

Well, they have some options at this point, these conglomerates, these real estate conglomerates could pour a lot of money into these homes and try to sell them or they could pour a lot of money in these homes, bring them up to code and try to rent them out.

They could either sell them or rent them out.

What these real estate companies decided to do is kind of a tricky third option and the tricky third option that they tried to do and they’re trying to do is something called a rent-to-own contract.

The reason it’s tricky and worrisome is because there are a lot of protections for renters and there are a lot of protections for purchasers, but what these sophisticated real estate companies are trying to do is create this third path that really doesn’t offer very many consumer protections and let me show you a little bit what that would like like.

 

An Example of How Rent-to-Own Would Work

They purchase a house in South Carolina for $7,000 because it’s fallen into disrepair, nobody wants it, and it’s far, far below code and there’s all kinds of unpaid violations for this, that and the other, and then they go to a potential tenant and they say, “Hey listen. Not only can we rent you this property but what we’ll do is it will be a rent-to-own situation. You’re not a traditional renter and you’re not a traditional buyer but what you are is you are renting to own this property and we’re going to have you to come move into this. You pay $1,000 down or $1,500 down and you start paying $600 per month, and at the end of the long lease term, then you’ll actually own this property.”

They move in and they’re like, “Okay, good. This is great.” Then they find out that the renter is responsible for making repairs and the way the real estate company gets away with that is they say, “Okay, you’re not a traditional renter. You’re actually renting to own this property so because of that, you have to pay for the repairs.”

They’re not a traditional seller and so it’s not like that the home is actually in their name, they’re not a traditional seller-buyer operation so the home isn’t in their name.

They’re sitting there in this ambiguous third category where the renter is responsible for paying to bring this house up to code and to put money into it.

Guess what? The real estate company is actually still in the driver’s seat because all of a sudden, the renter is using all the money to bring the home up to code and misses two or three rent payments, and they can just kick them out.

Now they have a property that now has that much more value because the renter put money into it. They can then turn around and rent that to somebody else who will then put more value into it.

They keep getting this home that gets more value into it with really no intention to ever have it be sold because they just can arbitrarily kick people out.

This is the type of thing that has come out of this new strange landscape after the housing collapse. This is something that I want Nevada consumers to be very aware of.

 

Make Sure You Read Your Lease Carefully

Are you getting into something that sounds like a rent-to-own type scenario? Are you in a position where you’re being asked to put repairs into your house, but you’re not certain whether or not you should be paying for those repairs? Are you do something that is neither a traditional landlord-tenant type arrangement nor is it a traditional residential purchase type arrangement? Because if you are, you could be on very thin ice.

Landlord and tenant law is very well established and there are certain rights and protections that the tenant has and the landlord has. Residential purchases are very well established and there are certain protections given to both the buyers and the sellers.

What we have is real estate companies and sophisticated parties attempting to come and occupy this strange gray area where they lure people in saying, “Hey, you can own a home. Put down the money on this and start making these repairs and start paying rent and pretty soon the house will be yours.” There’s no protections and there’s no really great established body of law.

We look through the Nevada revised statutes and couldn’t find anything that was directly on point in these situations.

Again, we have established law for landlord-tenant, established law for residential purchase, but nothing in this third category.

If you’re aware of these situations, if you are involved in one of these situations, maybe you’re an owner or a landlord who actually wants to do this the right way.

These are all reasons to give us a call and we can help you figure out how to stay on top of it and how to do this is an honest and accurate way.

In any event, my heart goes out to those tenants who are right now potentially being exploited by these more sophisticated parties and it will probably be years and years and years before the law really catches up and addresses these different situations.

This is basically what I noticed this morning and what had got me thinking about.

Please feel free to reach out to Clear Counsel Law Group if you have any questions or issues and also on our Twitter and Facebook pages or our blog. We’re very interested to hear your own experiences and your own comments.

Thanks so much.

 

Panaca, FBI Las Vegas Nevada

Podcast Preview: Why Would the FBI Investigate the Victims of the Panaca Bombing?

Earlier this week, rising podcast star Greg Hamblin hosted one of our partners, Jordan Flake, on his new podcastOn The Docket.

As you have heard from previous episodes, we touch on a wide-array of topics. Although many of our discussions have been national in nature, this week’s clip touches a bit closer to home.

In this episode, we discussed the FBI investigation of the Panaca bombing. In particular, why is the FBI investigating the victims of a crime?

 

 

Transcript: The Panaca Bombing and the Subsequent FBI Investigation

Greg: … Jordan, but this is about the Panaca bombs.

Jordan: Oh, yeah.

Greg: Have you heard about that? On July 13th, a couple of bombs were set off in Panaca, and now the FBI is involved, and there’s speculation that the person whose home was bombed had close ties to what infamous Nevada resident?

Jordan: Oh, no! The Bundys?

Greg: It is. It’s not the Bundys specifically, but the Finicums …

Jordan: The Finicums?

Greg: Who … Remember LaVoy Finicum, who was the guy who was shot after the whole thing in Oregon?

Jordan: This is crazy. This is really bizarre

Greg: Yeah, it’s weird. So far, as far as I can see, in the news articles that I’ve read, there’s nothing that indicates that the connection had anything to do with the bombing, but people are speculating, maybe that’s why the FBI is involved in this investigation now.

Jordan: The victims are the Cluffs … That’s their name.

Greg: Right, right.

Jordan: They are, by all accounts, good upstanding citizens of Panaca, business owners … And this disgruntled employee goes and blows up … Apparently he actually killed himself prior to the actual blast of the bombs …

Greg: I hadn’t heard that!

Jordan: Yeah, they did an autopsy … I’m not sure how, but determined that he shot himself in the head prior to the bombs actually detonating. Now, the Cluffs are sitting there saying, “Wow! We’re being investigated by the FBI for having been victims of this crime!” If you put yourself in their shoes, you’re sitting here thinking, “Wow, one of my employees went crazy, and blew himself up, and now, all of a sudden, the FBI is going through all of our … I don’t know … Credit cards …

Greg: Facebook profile …

Jordan: Facebook, credit card transaction history, taxes, everything that they have on us … That’s scary! That’s a little bit disconcerting

 

Panaca, Nevada, Las Vegas, FBI

 

Greg: That’s a little …

Jordan: You know, a lot of these communities are little tight-knit pockets of family, long-time, long-generation people who have lived in these small Nevada towns …

You know, ever since the LeVoy Finicum-Bundy thing, I’ve talked to some people from these regions, and they all have their … If it’s not a connection, it’s literally one connection away. If it’s not, “I knew LeVoy Finicum,” it’s “Oh, my grandma knew the Finicums …”

Greg: That’s actually how it is with me. I don’t know if you know, but I knew LeVoy, and worked with him for his nephew, and his son-in-law, and all kinds of people, because I’m also from a small community in that area. It is … Everybody knows everybody.

Jordan: Yeah, and the NSA is probably one of our biggest listeners here, so they know now that Greg …

Greg: Now they know.

Jordan: Greg has a history. Greg also has a connection! That’s why this is a little bit suspicious, because everyone has … Everybody up in those parts has …

Greg: They’re all connected.

Jordan: They’re all connected, so I hope the FBI doesn’t turn anything up, and I hope this isn’t an example of them just being overzealous. We obviously don’t know everything that they know … They might really have good reasons for what they’re doing … Maybe they’re just being thorough …

Greg: I think it’s … My guess is … I think that it’s not what the conspiracy theorists are saying, I think it’s just because the bomber lived in Kingman, Arizona, and the bombing took place in Panaca, Nevada, and since it’s cross-border thing, it becomes federal.

Jordan: Okay, you have to have federal agencies involved.

Greg: Sure.

Jordan: I’m guessing that’s what the real reason is, but …

Greg: Sure, but that doesn’t quite explain all the victim investigation, which is kind of …

Jordan: Right, right.

Greg: It makes people uncomfortable, for a good reason. Brian, you want to chime in on this at all?

Brian: I want to ask Jordan a question: What could the FBI do, to make people in Panaca feel more comfortable? Clearly, there’s no communication right now; is there something they could do that would help?

Jordan: That’s interesting! You know, I’ve wondered that this whole time. I haven’t been either following the story, or close enough to the actual situation, but it seems like the FBI would do some kind of a public relations approach to this whole situation, without seeming like the crazy federal … Faceless, nameless, federal agency that swoops in on this small town to wreak havoc …

Greg: Especially after the BLM stuff! You would think they would be upfront, like, “We understand you’ve been victims, but we’re worried about something …”

Jordan: Right, and try to rationalize in the minds of … I mean, it’s true … This is always the thing with power, and people in authority: People in authority, like the FBI, it’s not that they owe everybody an explanation. It’s not like everybody’s sitting here saying, “In order for you to do your job, I have to be okay with it!”

Probably actually the citizens are saying that, but what I’m saying is, that’s not a legitimate argument, to say “In order for you to do your job …” However, let’s not talk about what’s necessary, and let’s just think for a second about what might be prudent?

Greg: Thank you!

Jordan: If the FBI had said, “Hey listen! We’re coming in here, but really what we’re concerned about is protecting all of you from a situation, where an armed militia occupies your town! All of a sudden, you’re caught in the crossfire of the situation … This is why we’re doing what we do, and we have concerns about domestic terrorism … Terrorism from the inside, from God-fearing and otherwise patriotic people, you know what I mean? That’s another thing that we’re really concerned about …” Try to get people on board.

Instead, I’m worried about just this, oh, all these guys just show up, and descend on our town, they all have shotguns, and are going around bullying everybody …

Greg: Right, no explanation …

Jordan: No explanation, and here they are

 

Podcast Preview: Makeup for Your Tattoos?

Earlier this convention week, rising star Greg Hamblin hosted one of our partners, Jordan Flake, on his new podcastOn The Docket.

As you have heard from previous episodes, the we touch on a wide-array of topics. The law can wear many hats.

This week’s episode, we discussed the (now national story) of a Las Vegas judge that decided a defendant needed to have his tattoos covered up in order for there to be a fair trial.1)You will see pictures if you click the link.

 

 

Transcript: The Las Vegas Judge and Tattoos

Greg Hamblin: He’s a Neo-Nazi, and he’s got a whole bunch of tattoos, including the tear drop tattoos that’s meant to indicate that you’ve killed someone, and swastikas, and things like that. The makeover was actually going to be makeup to cover all these tattoos, so that when he’s in front of a jury, they won’t see those things.

Jordan Flake: That’s interesting.

Greg Hamblin: Isn’t it?

Brian: He’s spending 2 hours with a makeup artist, each day before trial, because the judge was concerned the jurors were scared of his appearance, and would not be able to evaluate the facts fairly. The other thing, most interesting part about it, is that he didn’t have the tattoos when he committed the crime.

Greg Hamblin: Oh.

Brian: I know. Chew on that fact.

Jordan Flake: That’s actually the part of it that helps me live with it. I think, otherwise, you just …

Greg Hamblin: You want to say, “Well, you chose to get these stupid tattoos that are meant to send a very clear signal about … ”

Jordan Flake: Right. There’s part of me that wants to say, “Look, if this is your identity, then your identity is something that … ” Your credibility and your character is something that jurors are allowed to consider, and if these tattoos are part of your identity, and part of your character, then that’s something that they should consider when evaluating whether or not they believe your side of the story. However, if at the time of the robbery, this individual didn’t have those tattoos, I can see a judge saying, “Listen, the only way to make this fair as of that point in time … ” He, still, at that point in time, even though he didn’t have the tattoos, was the same person who eventually would go and get these distasteful tattoos. That’s interesting. Yeah.

 

tattoos, las vegas, nevada, judge

 

Greg Hamblin: I guess, part of the problem was during jury selection, the judge would ask questions, and the jurors would say things like, “Well, the tattoos mean something, so he’s telling us that he’s a murderer.” They’re drawing meaning from the tattoos, and I can see the judge’s point of view that they’re going in with a predetermined idea of what kind of person this is.

Greg Hamblin: Again, yeah, it’s a tough one.

Jordan Flake: Was it the judge pushing for this, or was it the defense team?

Greg Hamblin: Do you know, Brian?

Brian: It was the judge, because they couldn’t get a jury selected.

Jordan Flake: Okay. Yeah, I could see that being a problem. The judge is sitting there during voir dire

Brian: Even the prosecutor wanted them to do it, because they couldn’t get a jury seated.

Jordan Flake: Everyone was just like, they were cycling through. My wife had to go down to jury duty recently. I wish she would’ve sat in on this one. That would’ve been great. “Juror number 649.” Nope. Don’t like Nazis. Sorry. The whole Nazi thing’s a problem with me. I could even imagine the defense counsel, or the prosecutor, anyone doing the questioning of voir dire, they’re like, “If someone has sworn allegiance to Hitler, would you still be able to be objective about this person?” Could you imagine somebody sitting there, and be like, “Oh, yeah. Hitler. That’s no big deal with me. Let me just put it on the record that if you’ve sworn allegiance to Hitler, then I really don’t condemn that at all.” Okay. All right.

This is all coming together. This is why you drill down into the facts, because the first second I heard about this story, I was like, “Okay. None of that’s going to be taken into consideration.” A few minutes go by, and we learn a little bit more about this story, and you’re like, “Okay. I can see the judge that.” Now, actually, I think standing in the judge’s shoes, the prosecutor’s shoes, the defense counsel’s shoes, it just makes sense. Got to get this guy into makeup, and now, maybe he’ll have some jurors who are like, “Oh, that’s a really good makeup job.” I would like to see this guy after makeup, because he looks totally weird, in spite of their best efforts. The thing that eventually condemns this guy is, “Something just didn’t look right about him. There was something about his skin, or his eyes. He had this waxy, almost sub-human appearance about him, and even though I think he’s probably not guilty of this crime, he just had this fake look about him.”

Greg Hamblin: He seems like a perfectly decent Nazi, but …

Jordan Flake: Yeah. Something looked off about him, and that’s we decided to find him guilty.

Brian: What about the slippery slope of it, though? What about the next defendant that comes out and says that, “You guys need to give me a wig, because the jurors are assuming that bald people are evil.” Of color defendants, why are we only making accommodations for white defendants?

Jordan Flake: That would have to come out in voir dire, though, if we got the same answer over and over again. I have red hair, and so I would want that, if I were ever up for a crime, I would want my defense counsel to ask, “Mr. Flake is a redhead. Do you just feel like you would want to prosecute and find a redhead guilty, just for having red hair?” I’d want that to be one of the questions that they ask.

Greg Hamblin: “Do you have anything against people who don’t have a soul?”

Jordan Flake: “Yes. Mr. Flake doesn’t have a soul.” Does that cause you any problems in terms of … Yeah.

 

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. You will see pictures if you click the link.
Las vegas water laws

“Nudging” Our Neighbors to Obey the Water Laws

On the effectiveness of our current water laws; on the shortcomings of deterrence; How a Sunstein-type “nudge” would work in application; why fans of behavioral economics need a firm understanding of FDR’s National Recovery Administration; why private enterprise might be the answer.

 

A neighbor1)as in, near our Henderson office on south Stephanie has put me in a devil of a predicament. There is a nearby business flouting the water laws, for now I won’t name, that I have seen first-hand watering their grass both during daytime morning and afternoon hours.

This would irritate me regardless, but in the context of Governor Sandoval standing on a dry lake bed last year (that was three feet deep a few years previous) declaring the seriousness of the drought, it should frustrate everyone. (Stay tuned, I have some fun planned today).

But what am I to do? Advocate that the city pass water laws?

..We already have water laws. As you will see below, each locality in the Valley has promulgated2)fancy law word for wrote a sufficient regulation: It’s illegal to water your lawn, residential or commercial, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. everyday. No Exceptions. Please Stop Watering Your Grass During the Day. 

Thank you neighbor.

Ok then, as the common logic goes, if there still is a compliance issue, then the deterrence is not sufficient.

..Below is the fine schedule used by the Las Vegas Water District3)the utility for city of Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County

Meter Size (in inches) 1st Violation 2nd Violation 3rd Violation 4th Violation 5th Violation
1 or less $80 $160 $320 $640 $1,280
Over 1 but less than 3 $160 $320 $640 $1,280 $2,560
3 or greater $320 $640 $1,280 $2,560 $5,120

As you can see, those amounts are not anything to scoff at. And yet? More Water Waste.

I know; it’s frustrating.

Can We Do Better?

Perhaps! It’s not going to be easy in the slightest (There’s a reason the laws are the way they are!).

I have a few questions before we begin:

  1. Why do you pay your taxes?
  2. Why do you shop at Whole Foods?
  3. What’s the correct response to an increase in violent crime?

Keep those answers top of mind as we continue..

As with any good discussion of punishments, we must start with deterrence.

America Loves Deterrence!

And it’s across the political spectrum! And there’s a good reason why…it makes us feel good.

Hypothetical: There’s been an increase in home robberies in the Las Vegas Valley. The most common refrain in response? “Increase the sentence!”

Now as to if this is the correct response? I have no idea4)I do actually, it’s not. But I’m here to tease out the logic to see if this makes sense for public policy.

Deterrence is effective, at least to some degree, right? In reference to the tax question above, how did you answer? Likely some variation of “because I’ll go to jail,” right? And I’m sure I don’t even need to ask if you turned them in on time.(Stick a pin in this, we’ll be back in a moment).

Stipulated5)as in, we now all agree to the following: Deterrence is an effective means to get folks already inclined to pay taxes to do so. (Warning: we are nearing the edge of effectiveness for deterrence. Watch your step.) But this conversation isn’t about you; I know you already follow the water laws, dear reader.

But what about those folks who didn’t pay their taxes this year? That same deterrence that got you to pay by 15 April does not seem to be uniformly effective.

..If my preceding sentence is your only takeaway from today, okay by me!

The Drawbacks of Deterrence

Now the bad news: If some deterrence isn’t effective, it is likely that more won’t be either. Stay with me here, if we double the water fines above, what will be the effect on compliance? Very likely not twice as much compliance.

I would contend that double the fines would likely have no effect on compliance, which logically leads to a discussion of the effectiveness of deterrence.

In terms of public policy, this matters less with regards to water laws, but much more significantly to our criminal justice system, for example.

Back to the hypo, it is difficult then to morally justify increased punishment as a means of public policy if we are aware that deterrence is ineffective.

Why are we punishing people the way we are if deterrence isn’t effective? What is it that we expect/desire of convicted criminals? Is it just plain vengeance then? What does that say about all of us?

 

Would a “Nudge” Be Sufficient?

Familiar with the term “libertarian paternalist”? Right, of course you’re not because the term’s ridiculous6)it’s a prima facie oxymoron, no? Also, if the academic types want more people to listen, try using words real people use. You don’t need to be, but I want to use Cass Sunstein’s7)He is one of the country’s leading behavioral economists/advisor to President Obama concept for our discussion.

In essence, the Nudgers think the government should encourage (nudge) folks into socially optimal behavior. A little more background on libertarian paternalism from the NY Times Magazine profile of Mr. Sunstein:

Libertarian paternalists would have school cafeterias put the fruit before the fried chicken, because students are more likely to grab the first food they see. They support a change in Illinois law that asks drivers renewing their licenses to choose whether they want to be organ donors. The simple act of having to choose meant that more people signed up. Ideas like these, taking human idiosyncrasies into account, might revive an old technocratic hope: that society could be understood so perfectly that it might be improved.8)Source

 

Yikes..My gut instinct says even some15)not all! of Bernie’s most ardent followers would be taken aback by that.

Talk about a nudge too far..

See, the thing about the law is, it really is only as effective so much as you can enforce it. To this point, the Wikipedia elucidates the effect of the many NRA regulations passed in the 1930s:

Journalist Raymond Clapper reported that between 4,000 and 5,000 business practices were prohibited by NRA orders that carried the force of law, which were contained in some 3,000 administrative orders running to over 10 million pages, and supplemented by what Clapper said were “innumerable opinions and directions from national, regional and code boards interpreting and enforcing provisions of the act.” There were also “the rules of the code authorities, themselves, each having the force of law and affecting the lives and conduct of millions of persons.” Clapper concluded: “It requires no imagination to appreciate the difficulty the business man has in keeping informed of these codes, supplemental codes, code amendments, executive orders, administrative orders, office orders, interpretations, rules, regulations and obiter dicta.”

 

Even worse, the Roosevelt Administration found out they did not have the power to enforce these new rules.

From John T. Flynn:

The NRA was discovering it could not enforce its rules. Black markets grew up. Only the most violent police methods could procure enforcement. In Sidney Hillman’s garment industry the code authority employed enforcement police. They roamed through the garment district like storm troopers. They could enter a man’s factory, send him out, line up his employees, subject them to minute interrogation, take over his books on the instant. Night work was forbidden. Flying squadrons of these private coat-and-suit police went through the district at night, battering down doors with axes looking for men who were committing the crime of sewing together a pair of pants at night. But without these harsh methods many code authorities said there could be no compliance because the public was not back of it.16)The Roosevelt Myth via wikipedia

 

It is imperative for any governing structure, public or private, that they not have rules that are unenforced for the reasons discussed under the deterrence heading above. Deterrence doesn’t work without enforcement! And given how exceedingly difficult enforcement is, this method of public policy should be avoided when possible.

Don’t just nod at me; think about this in the context of the water laws. For our current regulatory framework to be effective, the Southern Nevada Water Authority would need to enlist an unknown number of enforcers17)hundreds? thousands? to roam the Valley each and every day looking for violators of the waters laws.

I mean if we are talking about real deterrence, these enforcers would apply a “one strike/you’re out” policy where they would just turn off the water of a consumer not abiding by the water laws18)I can see my conservative friends salivating..that is far too draconian. What if the business I am discussing is an apartment complex? Clearly the residents shouldn’t have their water turned off; they don’t control when the grass is watered/if their property management company abides by the water laws. It’s not a terrible idea in theory..it’s just that we don’t live in theory. People need water.. Once we conclude, however, that the “one strike” method is overly harsh, we have to also concede the effectiveness of our friend, deterrence.

 

What Would a “Nudge” of the Water Laws Comprise of?

We are now wading into uncharted territory, so bear with me. Given that I navigated us this far, I have to take a crack at this.19)Hopefully we don’t have any Starbucks[Just go read Moby Dick already] aboard

  1. It’s fair to say most sprinkler systems are automated20)Correct?. Why not mandate that sprinkler systems must be programmed so that they cannot turn on until after 7 p.m.?21)I don’t know this for sure, but I have seen sprinkler systems that can be set for months. This could be done just for Summer
  2. Less extreme: Require sprinkler systems to configure a second switch to be pulled in order for the sprinklers to operate during daytime hours. This seems closer to Sunstein’s “default everyone as organ donors.”
  3. Require a solar sensor on sprinkler systems. If the sprinkler system senses the sun, it doesn’t turn on. Simple enough.

I’d say that’s not a terrible attempt at the problem, given that my only background I have with water is consumption22)Don’t know about you, but I always preferred a good self evaluation. Please don’t see those three items as some sort of comprehensive attempt to solve the issue23)it’s more like a demonstration.

Although I see those proposals as fairly benign, it is very likely many of you do not.  The idea of anyone from the government controlling your water (or any other) supply makes you crazy; I’ve lived in Nevada long enough to understand the sentiment24)It’s a principled stand based on liberty..I swear I’m listening.

In that NY Times Magazine article on Sunstein, it is emphasized a couple of times that Glenn Beck25)Republican, cheetos is very creeped out by the work of Cass Sunstein (Unfortunately, the piece does not tell us why). Not sure if Beck has some background with Sunstein (the complaint seemed strangely personal), but I think I understand what Beck26)Things I never thought I’d be doing on the Clear Counsel blog: defending Glenn Beck was getting at, and I believe that it’s related to the liberty-minded sentiments we often hear in Nevada.

Sunstein seems like a nice enough guy (Don’t know him either) with benevolent intentions, but if he takes this concept even one step beyond school lunches, people are going to be upset. Unfortunately27)the appropriate adverb is debatable, we as a society have not stipulated what we consider to be moral behavior and there’s a lot of disagreement out there.

And you know what? That’s ok! We can have disagreements, and we can use our democracy to make collective choices.

It is just that we, collectively, just aren’t ready to determine what behavior should be nudged by the government. I think it is fair to say, given the choice, that most Americans28)given that many of our moral issues are still being debated would prefer the government stay impartial.

And those of us who want better compliance with the water laws need to respect this. An issue that is so morally clear cut for me (We only have one earth, last I checked), is not for my fellow Nevadans.

And because I respect and value the opinions of my neighbors, applying these techniques without a clear Supermajority just isn’t the right thing to do.29)A lot of my liberal friends disagree with me on this. It’s not just about being right though. If I care about the water laws as much as I say I do, I should be attempting to persuade those with whom I disagree30)reasonably, respectfully.

 

So Where Does That Leave Us?

You know what they say..A nudge is only as good as its nudger? It’s something close to that31)No it isn’t. Just making up cliches again..

Point being, the quality of output (that is, the nudge) is completely a product of its creator. And in order to institute “nudging” as public policy, we would need thousands upon thousands of people with the sufficient intellect and morality to specifically craft policy for each locality.

I don’t know how many Cass Sunstein’s32)If you are looking for the conservative alternative, think Judge Posner of the 7th Circuit. How much fun would it be to live in a city where he was doing the nudging?? there are out there, but likely not enough for each of the nation’s municipalities.

Whereas I would be open to some “nudging” legislation if it was to implemented by someone that much smarter (and hopefully moral) than me, I am completely against the concept if we are going to settle for a run-of-the-mill politician’s half-arsed33)#Brexit!! effort.

Like many other concepts/proposals in public policy, this concept needs to be implement completely correctly, or it should not be done at all.

 

Perhaps More Government Isn’t the Answer

Are you familiar with what Google’s Trusted Store campaign? Perhaps our answer is here.

If you are unfamiliar, Google will allow certain vendors to display a badge that declare that a retailer is a “Trusted” by Google if the vendor is willing to meet certain requirements from Google. The standards are so rigorous that Google is willing to insure a purchase from a Google Trusted Store up to $1,0000. For an example, see Overstock.34)Overstock doesn’t pay me anything, just the first example I could find. Scroll to the bottom of the page

I think we sufficiently fleshed out why government nudging likely isn’t our short-term answer above, but we neglected our friends in the private sector!

What’s to stop two or three people with a passion for observance of the water laws from forming an organization to promote that idea? Now, I’m no expert on corporations, (if you need help in this arena, I recommend my boss Mr. Barlow.)35)If you search our legal blog, he has discussed this topic extensively. Here is a good example but it might be worth your time to read about 501(c) Organizations.36)501(c) refers to the tax code

These said two or three people could design their own version of the Blue Eagle, drum up public support37)easier now than ever with social media, raise money38)or self-fund. Again, many more options when you use private enterprize, and offer a large poster (in today’s age, a badge to be displayed on the company’s website/social media pages) to be displayed for all potential customers if these companies follow prescribed rules.

And the best part of these rules? They can be whatever you want them to be. These are private individuals doing business with private companies—no government/extra water laws needed!

Draft your own contacts with your own terms which, of course, can include provisions for if a company violates the terms.

The possibilities are endless. For a great example of the potential of benevolent citizen organization creating change, see this Politico discussion about Cincinnati.

We aren’t the only one’s nudging. Just today, The Washington Post published a proposal on how to get more people to vote39)Pretty good idea if you ask me.

Thanks for reading.

Below is the relevant water laws from the City of Henderson (Just in case you don’t believe me). Ordinance 24.34.020 (the second one) is very clear when folks are permitted to water their lawns.

14.14.020 – Water waste.
A. Water waste unlawful.
1. It shall be deemed unlawful for owner, occupant, or manager of real property served by the city to permit the excess use, loss or escape of water through breaks, leaks or malfunction in the water user’s plumbing or distribution facilities for any period of time after such escape of water should have been reasonably discovered and corrected as determined by the director.

2. It shall be deemed unlawful for owner, occupant, or manager of real property served by the city to waste water after a notice has been issued. Water waste includes, but is not limited to the following:
a. Allowing water to flow or spray off private property onto a sidewalk, pavement, gutter, street, alley, right-of-way or drain.
b. Failure to repair a malfunction of an irrigation system or supply line within 48 hours of notification by the city. Such malfunctions may include, but are not limited to: pooling due to broken sprinkler head, geyser or jet of water caused by broken drip irrigation line, etc.
c. Failure to repair a water leak.
B. Responsibility for waste. Any waste of water as set forth in this chapter, together with proof that such waste originated at any residence or place of business, shall constitute a rebuttable presumption that the current owner, account holder, or manager of such property or residence or place of business was responsible for such waste.
(Ord. 2798, § 5, 1-20-2009)

 

24.34.020 – Limitation on irrigation.

(Ord. 2934 § 4, 2003: Ord. 1271 § 1 (part), 1991)

14.14.030 – Landscape watering restrictions.

A. Landscape watering schedules shall apply to all areas, both residential and commercial, including, but not limited to: single family residential properties, multi-family residential properties, commercial properties, common areas, medians, and private parks. Community use recreational turf shall be subject to the provisions outlined in section 14.14.040(E).

B. Beginning May 1 until September 30 of each calendar year, it is deemed unlawful to use water to spray irrigate turf, gardens, trees, shrubbery, or other vegetation between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

 

14.14.040 – Golf courses.

 

 

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. as in, near our Henderson office on south Stephanie
2. fancy law word for wrote
3. the utility for city of Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County
4. I do actually, it’s not
5. as in, we now all agree to the following
6. it’s a prima facie oxymoron, no? Also, if the academic types want more people to listen, try using words real people use.
7. He is one of the country’s leading behavioral economists/advisor to President Obama
8. Source
9. please don’t overcomplicate this
10. Like shouting “War Eagle,” but for fans of labor
11. As John Oliver astutely pointed out, the more famous NRA isn’t even that big..Apparently planet fitness has more members? Also, apparently that matters..
12. There’s good reason today to think this is incorrect. Any discussion of the Great Depression is incomplete unless debt crisis of the 1920s included
13. game theory term for “race to the bottom”
14. Imagine living in an era where you had to go to the movies to watch the news
15. not all!
16. The Roosevelt Myth via wikipedia
17. hundreds? thousands?
18. I can see my conservative friends salivating..that is far too draconian. What if the business I am discussing is an apartment complex? Clearly the residents shouldn’t have their water turned off; they don’t control when the grass is watered/if their property management company abides by the water laws. It’s not a terrible idea in theory..it’s just that we don’t live in theory. People need water.
19. Hopefully we don’t have any Starbucks[Just go read Moby Dick already] aboard
20. Correct?
21. I don’t know this for sure, but I have seen sprinkler systems that can be set for months. This could be done just for Summer
22. Don’t know about you, but I always preferred a good self evaluation
23. it’s more like a demonstration
24. It’s a principled stand based on liberty..I swear I’m listening
25. Republican, cheetos
26. Things I never thought I’d be doing on the Clear Counsel blog: defending Glenn Beck
27. the appropriate adverb is debatable
28. given that many of our moral issues are still being debated
29. A lot of my liberal friends disagree with me on this. It’s not just about being right though.
30. reasonably, respectfully
31. No it isn’t. Just making up cliches again.
32. If you are looking for the conservative alternative, think Judge Posner of the 7th Circuit. How much fun would it be to live in a city where he was doing the nudging??
33. #Brexit!!
34. Overstock doesn’t pay me anything, just the first example I could find. Scroll to the bottom of the page
35. If you search our legal blog, he has discussed this topic extensively. Here is a good example
36. 501(c) refers to the tax code
37. easier now than ever with social media
38. or self-fund. Again, many more options when you use private enterprize
39. Pretty good idea if you ask me
Nevada voting election vote

Election Day Special: Know Your Voting Rights

Need to find your polling place in Clark County? Just click here. Voting is open until 7 p.m. 

 

Happy Election Day! Good news! We have moved into the state-administered calendar of the election season. Why is this good? Because when the state administers an election (as opposed to a political party), you have rights as a Nevada citizen to ensure the election is administered fairly.

More good news! As I’m sure you have heard how new voter-ID laws across the country are disenfranchising people (who could forget Sen. Burr having to vote with a provisional ballot?). Well, we don’t have one! In fact, the next time someone brings that silly topic up, refer them to NRS1)which stands for Nevada Revised Statute 293.775 that states that anyone “who votes or attempts to vote knowing that he or she is not a qualified elector is guilty of a category D felony.”2)Cite

Yes, voter fraud is already a crime. Let’s move on talk to about stuff that’s really important…like bathrooms3)kidding!.

Know Your Election Rights by Statute

It’s one thing to know that it’s “the law” that you do not have to provide state-ID to vote (for example), but what fun is that?

It’s much more fun to vote knowing the precise statute that empowers you!

Let’s start with election day observation:

NRS 293.274  Members of general public allowed to observe conduct of voting at polling place; photographing or otherwise recording conduct of voting by members of general public prohibited.

      1.  The county clerk shall allow members of the general public to observe the conduct of voting at a polling place.

      2.  A member of the general public shall not photograph the conduct of voting at a polling place or record the conduct of voting on audiotape or any other means of sound or video reproduction.

      3.  For the purposes of this section, a member of the general public does not include any person who:

      (a) Gathers information for communication to the public;

      (b) Is employed or engaged by or has contracted with a newspaper, periodical, press association, or radio or television station; and

      (c) Is acting solely within his or her professional capacity.

      (Added to NRS by 1995, 2772; A 1999, 264) (emphasis added)

There was some confusion online if people are allowed to take pictures of their ballots and post them (I am not going to reproduce a potential crime here). There’s been a national rise in demand for folks to film themselves casting a ballot out of fear of voter fraud, but you do not need to worry about that here. In Nevada, you can see a print out of your voter preferences before you leave the booth. I can verify this firsthand.

My point being, you don’t need to film yourself voting. Also, it’s illegal.4)Yes, Jon’s right. Doesn’t excuse that tone of his though.

One last point regarding NRS 293.274 in reference to the general public being permitted to “observe.” That means you can stand near the poll location and watch people vote. “Observe” has a different meaning than “talk to,” “intimidate,” “question” or any other action that involves you interacting with voters.5)Small aside. In 2008 i worked for the “Election Protection” team in Las Vegas where we went to the polls to make sure voters weren’t being made uncomfortable. At the North Las Vegas polling place I visited, there was in fact a man there in a white button down shirt, bright red tie, with a steno pad, looking at each voter’s face and making a note on his pad. I just went and stood next to him..he left 10 minutes later. Guess he had all the notes he needed. Leave them voters be!

You Do Not Need State-Issued ID to Vote

NRS 293.277 and NRS 293.285 states what is required of you to vote:

NRS 293.277  Conditions for entitlement of person to vote; forms of identification to identify registered voter.

      1.  Except as otherwise provided in NRS 293.283 and 293.541, if a person’s name appears in the roster or if the person provides an affirmation pursuant to NRS 293.525, the person is entitled to vote and must sign his or her name in the roster when he or she applies to vote. The signature must be compared by an election board officer with the signature or a facsimile thereof on the person’s application to register to vote or one of the forms of identification listed in subsection 2.

      2.  Except as otherwise provided in NRS 293.2725, the forms of identification which may be used individually to identify a voter at the polling place are:

      (a) The card issued to the voter at the time he or she registered to vote;

      (b) A driver’s license;

      (c) An identification card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles;

      (d) A military identification card; or

      (e) Any other form of identification issued by a governmental agency which contains the voter’s signature and physical description or picture.

      (Added to NRS by 1960, 252; A 1985, 559; 1991, 2219; 1993, 2181; 1995, 2263; 2001, 2595; 2003, 2176; 2015, 3151) (emphasis added)

NRS 293.285  Procedure for taking registered voter’s signature.

      1.  Except as otherwise provided in NRS 293.283, a registered voter applying to vote shall state his or her name to the election board officer in charge of the roster, and the officer shall immediately announce the name, instruct the voter to sign the roster and verify the signature of the voter in the manner set forth in NRS 293.277.

      2.  If the signature does not match, the voter must be identified by:

      (a) Answering questions from the election board officer covering the personal data which is reported on the application to register to vote;

      (b) Providing the election board officer, orally or in writing, with other personal data which verifies the identity of the voter; or

      (c) Providing the election board officer with proof of identification as described in NRS 293.277 other than the card issued to the voter at the time he or she registered to vote.

      3.  If the signature of the voter has changed in comparison to the signature on the application to register to vote, the voter must update his or her signature on a form prescribed by the Secretary of State.

      (Added to NRS by 1960, 253; A 1971, 442, 1486; 1987, 692; 2007, 2588; 2015, 3152)

If you are looking to remember one election statute, NRS 293.277 is the one you are looking for. As you can see above in the bolded section, if your name is on the voter rolls, with a signature and an affirmation6)legally binding statement, you get to vote.

I was going to add “no questions asked” but that could be literally untrue. Take a look at NRS 293.285. If your signature doesn’t match with the one on file, the election official present will likely ask you a few questions. This is okay!

The procedure for how the election officials ask and take your signature is specifically prescribed by statute. If the above procedure is not followed at your polling place, please inform that Clark County Election Department at (702) 466-8683.

Just in case, here is the language from the Clark County Election website regarding voter identification:

You will give your name to a Clerk at the precinct table. The Clerk will find your name in the Precinct Register and ask you to sign next to your facsimile signature. The Clerk will then verify your identity by comparing your handwritten signature to your facsimile signature. It may be helpful to bring picture identification with you when you vote.

I cannot get enough of that last sentence. I must have read it at least 20 times.

Lastly, if voting is difficult for you because of language or physical disability, the election officials are required to allow assistance:

NRS 293.296  Assistance to voter who is physically disabled or unable to read or write English.

      1.  Any registered voter who by reason of a physical disability or an inability to read or write English is unable to mark a ballot or use any voting device without assistance is entitled to assistance from a consenting person of his or her own choice, except:

      (a) The voter’s employer or an agent of the voter’s employer; or

      (b) An officer or agent of the voter’s labor organization.

      2.  A person providing assistance pursuant to this section to a voter in casting a vote shall not disclose any information with respect to the casting of that ballot.

      3.  The right to assistance in casting a ballot may not be denied or impaired when the need for assistance is apparent or is known to the election board or any member thereof or when the registered voter requests such assistance in any manner.

      4.  In addition to complying with the requirements of this section, the county clerk and election board officer shall, upon the request of a registered voter with a physical disability, make reasonable accommodations to allow the voter to vote at his or her polling place.

      (Added to NRS by 1973, 293; A 1977, 244; 1985, 1093; 1987, 693; 1999, 2156; 2015, 1146)

You, the voter gets to pick whom will assist you. No one else (there are exceptions, see the rest of the law below). 

Still think it is too difficult/inconvenient to vote? I wrote a Not-Very-Modest Proposal to fix our election problems..

Thanks for reading.

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. which stands for Nevada Revised Statute
2. Cite
3. kidding!
4. Yes, Jon’s right. Doesn’t excuse that tone of his though.
5. Small aside. In 2008 i worked for the “Election Protection” team in Las Vegas where we went to the polls to make sure voters weren’t being made uncomfortable. At the North Las Vegas polling place I visited, there was in fact a man there in a white button down shirt, bright red tie, with a steno pad, looking at each voter’s face and making a note on his pad. I just went and stood next to him..he left 10 minutes later. Guess he had all the notes he needed.
6. legally binding statement
Nevada election

A Not-Very-Modest Proposal to Fix Nevada Election Problems

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

-Albert Einstein

 

(Editors note: the piece has been reformatted for better accessibility-6/2/2016)

 

If We Change Nevada Election Laws, What Should They Be?

Good news! The answer isn’t all that complicated, and we don’t have to start from scratch.

We clearly (given that Nevada has been a state for 150 years and still cannot host an election) don’t have (or desire to spend) the resources to adequately (some might contend “Constitutionally”) administer elections. This is important to acknowledge.

If learned anything from the state convention, it is that the people working for the Nevada Democratic Party cannot administer an unbiased primary.1)It wasn’t just the convention; I have talked with multiple voters that told me their Caucus wasn’t not administered properly. I caucused up in Anthem (with Sen. Reid in the building, though in a different precinct), and I personally witnessed at least three caucuses run improperly (as in, not according to the party’s rules. Worse, I saw caucuses run by the same precinct chair, administered differently [I guess if you wanted to be in a caucus that followed party rules, it was luck of the draw] in the same gymnasium). If the party doesn’t administer the caucus correctly with the Godfather in the building, I have no reason to think any Caucus meeting was completed in the proper order. If the people working for the NV Dems are so passionate about Hillary Clinton (nothing wrong with that) that they could not administer a caucus fairly, they should have asked someone else to do it. Updating the rules, on the fly, the meet the needs of their preferred candidate, is just not good enough. Our friends in the Nevada GOP have their own legitimacy issues. Do a little reading about the 2012 race; the google can help.

For the reasons discussed above, legitimate ruling authority is more important than any other single issue the legislature will address next session. If the people in office were not put there by legitimate means, no subsequent action taken by these officials will be seen as legitimate.2)Keep going down the logic tree, or read about the ongoing coup in Brazil if you want a real world exampleThis speaks to the very essence of our society.

If we were going to a Rawslian3)I just mean starting from a “state of nature,” as in the famous thought experiment where you would design a system of justice from scratch, perhaps with equal outcomes. experiment here, perhaps I would propose something far more radical4)Imagine if our elections were community meetings of say a couple dozen people that had a fruitful discussion before each individual declared her preference. Or if the complex issues of the day got the debate they deserve. Or if the elected officials entrusted to make tough decisions aren’t permitted to leave the room before action has been taken, etc..

But we don’t need to “revolutionize” the Nevada election process. Our 9th Circuit neighbors to the north have done most of the legwork for us. Up in Oregon, they have enacted (and tested) vote-by-mail laws. 30 years later, the results from their experiment are extraordinary! (wait until you see their voter participation numbers). Let me quote the Oregon Secretary of State to explain the process:

 

Registered voters receive a ballot two to three weeks before an election, giving time to research issues or candidates.

Voters also receive an official ballot to complete and insert into the security envelope which is placed in the ballot return envelope and signed by the voter. The ballot return envelope can be stamped and mailed or dropped off at any official drop box across the state. If a voter casts their ballot after the Wednesday before an election, the ballot should be left at a drop box site to ensure it’s counted.

Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

 

Better than that? The same process applies for the primary! Problem solved!

Just in case the benefits don’t jump off your mobile device at you, allow me to list the first ten I could think of:

  1. No More Long lines: In a state where folks work around the clock, having folks stand in line for hours to vote is terrible for our economy. Just think of all the waste from the February caucus.
  2. No More Voter Intimidation: There have been complaints5)I’m not speaking to their veracity that certain voters, from both parties, feel intimidated.6)I recall seeing pictures on State Sen. Aaron Ford’s account of voter intimidation that will infuriate any good Nevadan. Being able to express your voter preference is a fundamental tenant of American life and should be protected. This is the best means to do so.
  3. Improved Fairness for Our Senior Citizens: The first concerns listed above are particularly acute for our area seniors. Allowing folks to vote from home at their own convenience is an idea I believe most of our senior citizens would support.
  4. Improved Fairness for Casino Workers: If you haven’t worked in the casino industry, the shifts constantly are in flux (until you have tenure) and it is difficult to plan for anything too far in the future. Under the caucus system, people only have a 2 hour window to express their preference. Saturday is a busy day in the casino industry, and most of the Valley’s casino shifts include working on Saturday. Casino workers are the true foundation of our economy here, and we should be doing everything possible to make it easy for them to vote. I’m sure the Casino owners do not want to continue to pay their workers during the caucus either. Let casino workers vote when they can.
  5. Potential for a Significant Voter Turnout: In 2012, 2/3rd’s of the country didn’t vote. This is a huge problem for a number of reasons. 10% of registered democrats in the state voted in this year’s caucus. This is a civic failure of which we could blame any number of institutions, but now is not the time for distractions. The more cynical folks in the media like to use these stats to make unfavorable conclusions about Americans generally. Me? I think most Americans are willing to participate, they just don’t have 6 hours to dedicate to the process with families, work and other obligations. Don’t believe me? With a vote-by-mail option, More than 70% of Oregon residents voted in the 2014 midterm.
  6. More Honest Political Parties: Closed primaries don’t make sense in Nevada where as much as 1/3 of the voters do not want to be apart of either major political party. An open, vote-by-mail primary allows every citizen to have an equal voice in the process. Once the major parties have competition, they will be forced (as much as they can be) to meet the will of the voters. My conservative readers have to be in favor of more competition..
  7. People Will Feel Invested in Their Community: When 2/3rds of the country didn’t vote, these folks can just turn around and blame the other 1/3 without having to take any responsibility. We want our citizens to have skin in the game, to care about the results. I suspect that there are many people with the civic spirit in Nevada that want to participate and be a part of the process, but they are disincentivized by the impropriety of the process (even just the look of it). A more engaged citizenry will lead to a better Nevada, no question about it.7)There will be growing pains, but that’s ok!
  8. Fairness for Non-Partisan Voters: Did you know the fastest growing voter demographic in Nevada is non-partisan voter? Shouldn’t folks with independent streaks/non uniform political opinions be allowed to participate in the primary? Wouldn’t the result likely be a candidate that more of the country actually likes?8)Note, Nevada currently uses a closed primary system to exclude non-partisans from the process. This can be easily fixed.
  9. Lower Cost: Think about the cost of running an election for a moment: supplies, personnel, rent for polling locations, plus the opportunity cost of having public officials not completing their regular business. Then add on early voting! Know also that the ballot drop boxes around the state (under Oregon law) don’t need to be supervised (like a mail box). Also, in terms of added cost, we already send out a voter guide! Why not just include the ballot as well?
  10. A Better Government: Our government, like the rest of life, is a product of what we put in. A more engaged/inspired voting public will produce a more engaged/inspired government. When in life have you received something worthwhile that didn’t take serious effort to produce? It’s time to stop pretending our government is any different.

 

In case any of the members of our fine Nevada Assembly come across this discussion, I have included the Oregon statutes below for your perusal. Additionally, I included Oregon voting statistics, which alone should be enough to get you to consider this idea.

I would be the first to concede that my proposal is, by no means, modest. But for the listed reasons above, I ask the citizens of Nevada to take it under serious consideration.

We do not have to pick insanity. Our democracy is a beautiful thing. It’s time to reinvest.

 

How We Got Here

By now, you’ve heard at least a little bit about what happened at the Nevada Democratic Party State Convention from the Paris Hotel. Frankly, I’d be impressed if you haven’t.

If you missed all the fun, this Maddow segment sums up the Nevada election fun.

 

The look on Ralston’s face is priceless.9)How’s that #fallofTrump hashtag going by the way?

Here’s a litany of “thinkpieces”10)How long does someone need to think about something before a “reaction” becomes a “thinkpeice”? from the Convention, if it’s a recap you are after: NY Times CNN  Commentary Medium Salon Statement from Lucy Flores

I am less interested in what occurred last weekend, but much more concerned about what we should do going forward. As I wish more people were.

But how much does what happened last weekend matter? If the Nevada Democratic Party followed their own convention rules, Hillary would have won 13-12. With the new, updated11)to account for Bernie’s supporters winning too many delegates at the county conventionsconvention rules, Hillary won 15-10.

That’s right, all of this is about two delegates. Yes, every delegate counts. And Hillary is currently 274 delegates ahead of Bernie. For those of you not math inclined, we are talking about less than 1% of the total delegates. Unless Bernie wins at least 70% of the California vote, Hillary is going to win the primary.

As we keep calling each other names, please keep that in mind.

One last point regarding the Convention..

 

I, for one, would appreciate it if the national media stops reporting false facts to make Nevadans look bad. As far as I can tell, no Nevadan threw anything at anyone.

As for the disgusting harassment of Roberta Lange, no one has proven anyone from Nevada had anything to do with that either. Over on Jezebel, Anna Merlan wrote a great piece where she called up a few of these harassers and asked them to explain themselves. It’s worth reading in full. Of the three harassers she spoke to, none was from here.12)For all I know, these jerks all work for David Brock..I kid David, I’m sure he doesn’t do stuff like this anymore..

 

Now That We Got That Silliness Out of the Way, Onto Important Business

That is, that our primary (at the very least) has the appearance of impropriety. And that is a huge problem.

Yet, it is important to acknowledge that administration of a legitimate election is not a Nevada-specific issue. In fact, this is a problem in many13)but not all…stay tuned states in the union.

But how bad are things across the country?

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a43311/war-on-voting/

Well, Charles Pierce had to write about it without cursing, so yes, pretty serious. In that piece, he aggregates voting issues in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Alaska. Anyone else see a common theme across jurisdictions making it more difficult to vote?14)George W. Bush’s politics/results showed that conservative values can easily win on the merits; there’s absolutely no need/value for these laws.

We could continue to complain on social media, write terse letters to the editor, and create (less than mature) vines to express our displeasure, or we could Make a Change.

 

Why This Matters

In my humble opinion, this matters as much as anything we’ve written about on the Clear Counsel Legal Blog. We are talking about the fundamentals of our democracy here, the essence of our social contract. Allow me a moment to take a step back so we can get a little perspective.

When the uproar in Tunisia began in the end of 2010, I speculated15)#humblebrag…you’ll just have to believe me. Also, there were many a folk that said the same thing that it was very possible for the unrest to spread to the other neighboring countries. Why?16)I apologize for the Darling-esq rhetorical question

The conditions that acted as a catalyst in Tunisia were present across the Middle East17)Not the murder of the fruit vendor, but that the government was not chosen by the people but imposed on the people, and not the surprisingly, the unrest spread beyond Tunisia’s borders18)I’m going to put a pin in the discussion of the Arab Spring for now. Yes, I am aware of that there are many, many variables at play, and I am not omniscient. If you want more information about the Arab Spring, the Google can help.

That condition I speak of? The lack of legitimate authority over the citizens by the autocratic governments in question. This is incredibly important.

Beginning with the American Constitution of the 18th Century, peoples of the Western World declared that we (collectively) have the right to live by self-determination through self-governance. Europeans/fellow Americans followed suit over the next 200 years to the extent that now most Western societies consider governments that were not popularly elected as illegitimate19)I am fully aware of the happens of Brazil…We should let that play out before drawing conclusions. Certainly, it’s concerning.

The brilliance of our American experiment is that we,

1. Established a repeatable means to determine whom should lead us, and

2. Instituted an invaluable20)literally, try to put a price on this method for the peaceful transition of power.

Let’s reflect why this is important. Before 1776, Every person in the world was born into a society in which s/he had no voice/power to make a change. Political transitions before the Great American Compromise were, in essence, a storming (then subsequent re-storming) of the Bastille. The peasants of this era (and before) had no means to express their displeasure, except a good storming.

Imagine, if instead of having an election every 4 years, there was a violent conflict for power? Sounds awful, right? There’s real value in our political development over the past 200 years.

Good. We start here.21)Unfortunately, this is where most of the analysis I have seen stops. We seem to have hundreds of people ready/able/willing to disseminate an opinion, less that want to try to address the issues in question.

In reference to the Einstein quote to open the piece, if we don’t make serious changes to the Nevada election laws, there is no reason to think all of this chaos won’t happen again in 2018, 2020, 20204..

It doesn’t have to be that way!

 

Thanks for reading.

http://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Documents/246.pdf

 

 

http://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Documents/251.pdf

http://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Documents/Voter-Turnout-History-Primary.pdf

http://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Documents/Voter_Turnout_History_General_Election.pdf

 

 

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. It wasn’t just the convention; I have talked with multiple voters that told me their Caucus wasn’t not administered properly. I caucused up in Anthem (with Sen. Reid in the building, though in a different precinct), and I personally witnessed at least three caucuses run improperly (as in, not according to the party’s rules. Worse, I saw caucuses run by the same precinct chair, administered differently [I guess if you wanted to be in a caucus that followed party rules, it was luck of the draw] in the same gymnasium). If the party doesn’t administer the caucus correctly with the Godfather in the building, I have no reason to think any Caucus meeting was completed in the proper order. If the people working for the NV Dems are so passionate about Hillary Clinton (nothing wrong with that) that they could not administer a caucus fairly, they should have asked someone else to do it. Updating the rules, on the fly, the meet the needs of their preferred candidate, is just not good enough. Our friends in the Nevada GOP have their own legitimacy issues. Do a little reading about the 2012 race; the google can help.
2. Keep going down the logic tree, or read about the ongoing coup in Brazil if you want a real world example
3. I just mean starting from a “state of nature,” as in the famous thought experiment where you would design a system of justice from scratch, perhaps with equal outcomes.
4. Imagine if our elections were community meetings of say a couple dozen people that had a fruitful discussion before each individual declared her preference. Or if the complex issues of the day got the debate they deserve. Or if the elected officials entrusted to make tough decisions aren’t permitted to leave the room before action has been taken, etc.
5. I’m not speaking to their veracity
6. I recall seeing pictures on State Sen. Aaron Ford’s account of voter intimidation that will infuriate any good Nevadan
7. There will be growing pains, but that’s ok!
8. Note, Nevada currently uses a closed primary system to exclude non-partisans from the process. This can be easily fixed.
9. How’s that #fallofTrump hashtag going by the way?
10. How long does someone need to think about something before a “reaction” becomes a “thinkpeice”?
11. to account for Bernie’s supporters winning too many delegates at the county conventions
12. For all I know, these jerks all work for David Brock..I kid David, I’m sure he doesn’t do stuff like this anymore..
13. but not all…stay tuned
14. George W. Bush’s politics/results showed that conservative values can easily win on the merits; there’s absolutely no need/value for these laws.
15. #humblebrag…you’ll just have to believe me. Also, there were many a folk that said the same thing
16. I apologize for the Darling-esq rhetorical question
17. Not the murder of the fruit vendor, but that the government was not chosen by the people but imposed on the people
18. I’m going to put a pin in the discussion of the Arab Spring for now. Yes, I am aware of that there are many, many variables at play, and I am not omniscient. If you want more information about the Arab Spring, the Google can help
19. I am fully aware of the happens of Brazil…We should let that play out before drawing conclusions. Certainly, it’s concerning.
20. literally, try to put a price on this
21. Unfortunately, this is where most of the analysis I have seen stops. We seem to have hundreds of people ready/able/willing to disseminate an opinion, less that want to try to address the issues in question

Ongoing Medical Treatment and Accepting a Settlement Early

 

Should You Accept a Settlement Before Completing Your Medical Treatment?

 

Transcript:

Jared: Hi, my name is Jared Richards, and I’m one of the attorneys at Clear Counsel Law Group. One of our readers has recently asked whether they should accept a settlement before their medical treatment is finished. The answer is it depends. There are different factors that go into this. One of the main factors is what is the size of the insurance policy or what’s the size of the funds available to pay the claim.

For example, if you have medical treatment that’s going to cost $300,000 over the course of four years but there’s only $50,000 to settle this claim, and that’s really all there is going to be, then yes.

It would make some sense to accept that settlement before your treatment is finished. However, if it’s a large amount of money that is available to pay the claim, let’s say a major company has injured you, and they actually have the ability to pay the true value of your claim, then often it’s not a good idea to take a settlement before treatment is done.

 

medical treatment, personal injury, las vegas, Nevada

 

However, sometimes treatment can take years and years and years. At some point during the settlement, if that’s the case, your attorney’s going to sit down with your doctors and perhaps a life care planner, that is a professional who is paid to help determine what future medical treatment is going to be, and they can make estimates as to what that expense is going to be.

Then that can factor into the amount that you settle. In that case, you would be settling before your treatment is done.

The short answer is it can be complicated and you should talk to your attorney. Looks like Brian has a question.

 

Brian: How do you find out how much money is available to pay your claim?

 

Jared: That can be tricky sometimes. First of all, you need to look for available insurance policies. Now most of the time you can find that through police reports or you can force the other side to disclose that as a term of settlement. If you actually go into a lawsuit, the other side is absolutely required to tell you all insurance available.

Now as far as funds outside of insurance, it’s going to vary from state to state. The state of Nevada protects people’s personal assets really quite aggressively.

There are so many things that are protected: houses, cars, insurance policies like life insurance policies, annuities, certain investors that are protected that you can never access even if you were to go get a big judgment against them. Because of that, most people simply just look to the insurance policy.

You could try to go after somebody’s personal assets if it looks like they have them, but sometimes that’s a gamble.

That’s one of the things that you should talk to your attorney about and make a game plan as to whether you’re going to go after insurance or whether there are also personal assets that might help pay for the claim and might help compensate you for what you’ve lost.

Anyway, it can be a complicated question, so please talk to your attorney. If you have questions for us, we’re happy to help. Give us a call. Thanks.

 

Caucus, Nevada, Democrats, republicans, trump, hillary, bernie, cruz

The Answers to All of Your Caucus Questions!

You knew all the fun had to end eventually, right? I wonder if the national parties (in collusion with the cable news networks) decided to move the first primary or caucus back to April, what the candidates would do? Could they possibly keep up this pace for another three months?

Assuming the caucus dates will not be moved (to the chagrin of some establishment types that need more time to buy this thing), we still have so many unanswered questions: Will Rick Santorum wear his patented sweater vest without sleeves once it gets warmer? How many pairs of fancy boots does Mr. Rubio own? Is there anyway to distract Bernie from discussing income inequality?

If only we had more time!

Whether you are all aboard the Trump-train, feeling the Bern, “in” with Hillary, or part of the CruzCrew, you have likely heard all you need and are ready to declare that all import vote in the primary process. Now the only remaining issue is: How?

Below is a composite of most Frequently Asked Questions about the caucus process:

 

When and Where is the Nevada Caucus?

For some reason, (I have a guess but it is not appropriate to speculate), the two political parties host their caucuses on different days:

The Democrats: 20 February 2016, Saturday. Registration starts at 11am, the doors close at 12 Noon. They claim that if you are not at your caucus location by 12 Noon, they may not let you in.1)if you call their bluff, let me know by email what happened! brian@clearcounsel.com. Find your caucus location here.

The Republicans: 23 February 2016. Tuesday night. You have to register Republican by 13 February to participate. If you do not register by 13 February, you will not be permitted to attend (There is a link below to help). Find your caucus location here. (You need to register to vote first).

 

What are the Requirements to Caucus?

Here in Nevada, the state government only administers general elections. The Democratic and Republican Caucuses are administered by their respective party. In turn, the rules are entirely determined by the state parties.

You must abide by the following necessary conditions to participate in the Nevada Caucus:

  1. You must be 18 years old by the date of the Presidential Election on November 8, 2016. Yes, this means, a high school senior (that is currently 17) that will be 18 years old by November may (and in fact, is very much encouraged) join his or her caucus meeting.
  2. You must be a Resident of the state of Nevada.
  3. You must register as a Democrat or Republican (we do not have a so-called “open primary” where folks of any party may vote in any primary). Does this mean that you have to vote for the same party that you caucus for? No! Don’t let them tell you otherwise.

Important note for registration: If you are a democrat, you may register at the caucus site on the day of the meeting. If you are a republican, you have to register to vote by February 13, 2016. You may do so here.

Once more, because it is important, if you intend to caucus for a Republican, you must be registered to vote 10 days before the Caucus! Just click the link above, and so long as you have government-issued ID, you will be able to register to vote online.

 

What Happens at the Caucus Once You Arrive?

Upon arrival at your caucus site, you will register with the nice folks that will have a table near the door. Next, head over to your Presidential Preference Group if you already have a candidate in mind that you want to manifest a preference to support. If you have not made a decision yet, that’s ok! There will be a grouping of folks for “undecided.”

Important note: Standing2)or sitting with an initial group does not lock in your support for that candidate. You will have another chance to change your mind!

Next, (once everyone has arrived and sectioned off into their beginning preference) the Chair of your meeting will likely read/make statements from Nevada elected officials/party leaders.

After which, each campaign represented will be invited to speak on behalf of their candidate to persuade others in the room to help support their candidate.

Yet another important note: You do not have to do any public speaking if you do not want to! Folks volunteer for this responsibility; at the same time, the speaking gig is not assigned by the campaigns. The folks in your preference group will decide whom will speak for the whole.

After the speeches, there will be a fixed time for “persuasion.” Now comes the fun part! At this point in the process, folks supporting any candidate may try to persuade other people to come join their preference group. Don’t worry, no one is going to bully you/make you support any candidate. Better to think of this as the civil, community meeting portion of the event. After the persuasion period, folks head back to their preference groups and the total number of folks preferring each candidate will be calculated.

That’s it. Does it take a little more time than voting in a booth? Sure. But this is so much more memorable and fun (and you can play on your phone the whole time if you want).

 

What Caucus Rules Do You Need to Know?

Viability, mostly.3)Your precinct chair will read the rules to the caucus when you get there

Because the democrats and republicans will administer there own caucuses, they make their own rules. Better yet, the each caucus is different from the other.

Let’s start with the Democrats (because they go first).

The proceeding text comes from the 2008 Democrats Caucus guide, and the Nevada Democratic Party has confirmed4)through their spokesman Stewart Boss that these viability demarcations will be used in 2016 as well:

Caucus Viability Formulas Caucuses which elect Viable groups must contain 25% of Two (2) delegates attendees (# eligible attendees × .25).

Caucuses which elect Viable groups must contain 1/6th of Three (3) delegates attendees (# eligible attendees ÷ 6).

Caucuses which elect Viable groups must contain 15% of Four (4) or more delegates attendees (# eligible attendees × .15).

Always Round all fractions UP to a whole number when determining viability (e.g. If 1.1 Round to 2 — If 1.8 Round to 2)

 

Did your eyes just glaze over? Stay with me here, I can easily summarize. If you live in the Las Vegas Valley, it is most likely you will be at a caucus with four or more delegates (The orange line). What you need to know is that the Democrats do not count preferences for a candidate unless s/he has a sufficient level of support, a la at least 15% of the total number of people present. 

Insider tip: Folks who really care about winning for his/her candidate should start counting participants as soon as the doors are closed to figure out the 15% threshold. For example, if you are (if not all in, but at least partly) “In for Hillary,” and you count a total of 100 people at your caucus location, you will know that a candidate must have at least 15 folks in his/her corner to earn anything.

Continuing the hypothetical, if said Hillary supporter saw only 12 people standing on the side of the room to support Gov. O’Malley, it makes sense to make a beeline toward them once the persuasion period begins5)With a pitch like, “given that you don’t have enough supporters present, don’t you want your vote to count?”

I don’t have anything against Mr. O’Malley6)minus what happened in Baltimore under his tenure, but it unlikely, given his poll numbers, that he will be viable at the Nevada (or Iowa) Caucus. Some polls have Mr. O’Malley as high as 6%, which leaves many a 2nd-choice voter to be recruited for the Bernie/Hillary campaigns. How funny would it be for O’Malley supporters to be the ones to determine the Caucus outcome7)By the way, this happened in Iowa in 2008. Many Edwards preference groups did not meet the viability threshold. If those folks’ 2nd choice had been Hillary Clinton instead of Barack Obama, the entire course of human history could be different!8)There is no chance Mr. Obama is elected if he did not win Iowa…he has admitted as much.

 

The Republicans

For our Republican friends, don’t worry, none of this viability silliness applies. One person representing each campaign will give a public statement, and then each person will vote for his/her preferred candidate on a paper ballot. All Republican votes will be counted as there is no viability threshold.

If you are still concerned about the process/have questions, please do not hesitate to call (ask for Brian) or email, and I will do everything I can to help. We are Clear Counsel are not making an endorsement for the primary season, but we all strongly believe in representative democracy, and therefore, will help anyone of any party.

Even if you are still unsure about the caucus and don’t have time to call/write, just show up! I promise you will be able to figure it out; we all are Americans after all.

Thanks for reading.

More information:

http://nvsos.gov/index.aspx?page=1058

 

http://www.rgj.com/story/news/politics/2016/01/21/confused-nevada-caucus-s-easier-than-you-think/79086178/

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. if you call their bluff, let me know by email what happened! brian@clearcounsel.com
2. or sitting
3. Your precinct chair will read the rules to the caucus when you get there
4. through their spokesman Stewart Boss
5. With a pitch like, “given that you don’t have enough supporters present, don’t you want your vote to count?”
6. minus what happened in Baltimore under his tenure
7. By the way, this happened in Iowa in 2008. Many Edwards preference groups did not meet the viability threshold. If those folks’ 2nd choice had been Hillary Clinton instead of Barack Obama, the entire course of human history could be different!
8. There is no chance Mr. Obama is elected if he did not win Iowa…he has admitted as much
Nevada Caucus, Iowa, Trump, Bernie, Hillary, Cruz, Jeb

Your Much-Needed, All-Encompassing Caucus Preview! Now with a Small Debate Recap

**Updated With a Debate Recap**

 

To be the man, you have to beat the man.

-Pro Wrestling Proverb

 

 

The First GOP debate of 2016 affirmed my analysis of the race, see below. It is still a two-man contest between Mr. Cruz and Mr. Trump. Fox Business held the first laissez-faire debate of the season last night where candidates could come and go into conversations as they please, and answer only the questions they wanted. In terms of raw entertainment value, this was the best debate by far; each of the candidates is getting better with practice, some improving faster than others.1)Even Jeb!

Mr. Cruz showed last night that yes, indeed, he can win this thing. What you are about to see is the first candidate in the race actually stand up to Mr. Trump:

 

 

That “Constitution didn’t change since September” line was great. Mr. Cruz’s gab gift is such that Mr. Trump even smiled at a few of his quips! If you can’t stand up to Mr. Trump, how will you face Mr. Putin?

Shockingly, Mr. Cruz then found a way to make Mr. Trump sympathetic. Don’t believe me? Watch:

 

 

Five months ago, I would have never imagined Mr. Trump could do that. Unfortunately for Mr. Cruz, he had to burn many a bridge to get himself to his peculiar status as the “insider/outsider”2)Could someone not from Texas pull this off even??. Mr. Cruz may not have enough allies left in the establishment to muster a sufficient challenge to overcome the momentum of the Trump Train.

It’s clear after last night though; Cruz can win.

 

 

Welcome to our Iowa/Nevada caucus3)Yes, some New Hampshire too preview! In only4)haha, yeah only eleven months from now, all this jockeying will be over and the cable news will have to go back to talking about…What did they talk about before? Oh right! Airplanes lost at sea! Weird how no planes got lost over Bermuda during most of 2015; it is as if they know when to get lost to maximize news coverage, or something.

I know you see eleven months noted above and you’re thinking “Pshh, eleven?? Call me in October and I’ll see what these folks are up to.” Ah, my good friend, you do have a little time to head over to Kingman and burn your hard-earned money on an immoral national lottery that the Nevada Gaming Board would never permit5)because of the horrendous odds, but we will need your attention upon your return!

The Caucuses are coming; the caucuses are coming! Shockingly, our two-party political system has produced candidates from each party that differ to such an extent that these primaries will have a significant effect on the political process and the country as a whole. Not only should you be voting the celebrate the sacrifices of the countless others that died for your right of popular political participation, but because you can have a tangible effect on what it means to be an American for five, ten, maybe even twenty years from now.

So we best get this right, eh? This isn’t like those previous caucus seasons when you could pick any of the handful of politicians from one party and the policy result would not differ. You happen to be privileged enough to live in a country where you can actually participate in its future6)At the risk of being mercilessly mocked on the twitter, it is worth taking a moment and appreciating how lucky we are all to live here. You could have ended up in any of the nearly 200 countries in the world, and we are in the richest/most free. Yes, we have many an issue, but it is important not to lose perspective.

Time to get informed then? Insiders tip: don’t tell your coworkers you just noticed last night that we have a caucus in a months’ time. Play it like, “yeah, I’ve been following this stuff this whole time, I just didn’t want to talk about it too much to make y’all feel bad.” People seem to get defensive if you only recently made your 2016 caucus choice, as if your preference has less value than the bro who has been praying that Mr. Trump run for office since 2003.

Above, you see the most recent Nevada caucus polling. There is not much Nevada polling, and frankly, none of it would matter much anyway. We see the press (and Mr. Trump) playing a lot with national polls, yet there is no national caucus to decide the candidate for each party. No, the caucus or primary takes place in a pre-ordained sequence, meaning, in a Samuel Huntington7)Huntington wrote political theory about developing countries saying the the order in which institutions are established matters significantly to the outcome.-esq way, sequences matter! If New York voted first, followed by Texas then California, we would be looking at a completely different race!8)Shout-out to William Vollmann whose excessive use of exclamation points I am currently [poorly] emulating

My point being that the result of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will affect the caucus here, so taking snap-shots of the current Nevada polling doesn’t mean that much/have much value. In turn, to understand potential outcomes for the Nevada caucus, we need to glance at the state of the race in Iowa and New Hampshire.

After tossing the coin, the Republicans9)not surprisingly advised by Bill Belichick opted to defer to the 2nd half, so we will start with your friends, Hillary and Bernie.

 

The Democrats and Their Caucus

I haven’t written much about our Democratic friends, as there really wasn’t much news to report. Hillary was up by 20 points, nationally and in all the early states, and there was no reason to presume that Bernie would be able to rise above the 30% plateau attributed to his support in November. Then there was Christmas, New Year’s…and all of a sudden:

 

Whoa! #Bernmentum indeed. I always knew America would take to democratic socialism, it just needed the right, pretty spokesman to do the job10)On a related note, Bernie’s hair is combed in nearly half his television appearances now, much marked improvement. Trends/momentum are important for the caucus, and as you can see above, Hillary must be having nightmares of 2008 all over again (she was up by about the same amount in 2007 December over Obama and Edwards).

I have no insider Hillary knowledge11)I should disclose here that they offered my a job in 2008 but I declined, but my guess is that Team Hillary hoped to hire all the Obama operatives (I watched these folks work in 2008, they are very impressive), and then transfer his popular support directly to Hillary. The plan did not go as hoped. Hillary has been unable to form Hope and Change 2.0 and instead is dealing with all the same issues she had in 2008 with the base democrats, just with new topics. In 2008, the base dems saw Hillary as a war hawk, and her rival campaigns used the base’s hatred of Mr. Bush’s Iraq adventure to defeat Hillary.

Instead of foreign policy12)apparently all the politicians in Washington believe in war in perpetuity now that Mr. Obama has embraced the Bush doctrine, now Hillary is getting attacked for being too moderate on the income inequality, which happens to be Bernie’s pet issue/the issue he speaks best on. The difference eight years later is that as opposed to the 5 competing campaigns teaming up to defeat Hillary in Iowa13)She was that much of a sure-thing then, promise, Bernie is doing it all by himself14)well, along with his coalition of the willing. Unfortunately for Hillary, it looks like the old Edwards/Obama/Biden supporters did in fact come together in a big tent, just against her. Again.

Things are even worse in New Hampshire, Bernie’s next door neighbor:

 

https://twitter.com/RichardAngwin/status/685634979179593728

 

I don’t know about KABOOM, but yes, Bernie is doing well. Does it mean he has got this thing locked up? Not even close. Hillary is up big in South Carolina, and as you saw above, polled very well in Nevada in late December.

The state count could be 2-2 come Super Tuesday. Hillary is not going to go down easy, folks. Take a look at this ad they put out yesterday:

 

 

Pretty effective on the liberals and their hatred of all things gun. Hillary is at risk of the sky falling on her campaign if she does not win one of the first two states. The every-moment-of-the-day15)trademark pending media will just go crazy with their hot-takes and “I told you so’s”.

Yet if the worst occurs, and if she can get out of Nevada with the score 2-2, Hillary is still a -200 favorite to win the nomination, given her fundraising.

Like I said before, your Nevada caucus preference16)This is correct term for a caucus, not “vote,” talk like you’ve done this before really matters!

 

The Republicans and Their Caucus

 

“More than 1,000 words and no Trump talk yet?? I thought you said we were going to ‘Make Caucusing Great Again’?”

Ok ok ok, sorry. Yes, your friend Mr. Trump has turned out to be a much better politician than anyone (besides the Donald) gave him credit for. And yes, like I wrote a few weeks ago, he remains the front-runner.

..But there is a bit of overcast for Team Trump. Of course, though, we have to start with a national poll that Trump dominates:

 

Twenty-eight points! The republicans found lots of folks to run for President, yet none of them have any military or state experience. Imagine if Jim Webb didn’t promote organized labor and registered republican; no way Mr. Trump is up by this much. More than a dozen candidates for President, and the candidate with the most military experience was a JAG lawyer and already dropped out17)Come back Lindsey!. You have to think that if Gen, Petraeus didn’t ruin his career with the book lady, he would have been the nominee for the Republicans, and given all the worry over terrorism, he’d probably be polling pretty well.

But here we are, with a combination of first-term senators, governors, and private sector folks with a combined zero days of military experience. Thus, Trump.

 

But sequence matters with the republicans too! Let’s see what’s going on in Iowa:

 

Mr. Cruz is winning! (probably). Guy is working his tail off in Iowa; I have no doubt he will have visited each of Iowa’s 99 counties by caucus day on 1 February. Iowa voters take their responsibilities very seriously, as they say, they got to kick the tires of a candidate two or three times before an individual would even consider caucusing for him or her.

If Mr. Cruz can pull off the upset and defeat Trump, the sequencing effect likely takes hold (people want to vote for a winner after all). An Iowa win for Mr. Cruz could completely change the dynamics of the race (for him and Mr. Trump only, sorry kids). If Mr. Trump blows out his establishment opponents in the first two states, he potentially18)can’t believe I’m typing this could sweep the field. He’s up Yuge in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, and if he sweeps the first four states, I cannot imagine another candidate will be able to raise enough money to compete with him. Mind you, Mr. Trump has spent very little19)around 2 million dollars, compare with the 9-figure expenditures of the Jeb PACs, and will likely have sufficient funds available to get the vote out on Super Tuesday.

But if you think Mr. Trump will just allow Mr. Cruz to take away his nomination, think again. By early February, expect all the country to know that Mr. Cruz was born in Canada20)stay tuned for a more in depth discussion on the qualifications for the office of the President. “Natural born citizen” confuses many. What isn’t clear is how well-organized21)in this context it just means, he employs plenty of staff, has lots of volunteers/veterans of the process Mr. Trump is. Look at these articles, for example:

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/trump-builds-data-juggernaut-217391

 vs.

Both of these pieces can’t be accurate. Did The Times just find dull Trump supporter in Ottuma to make him look bad? Is The Politico just trying to get back in Mr. Trump’s good graces? We will find out in three weeks. As much as the press loves the “yeah well it’s neat that all them folks came out for the rally, but are they really going to vote” angle22)example , given how well Mr. Obama did in 2008, might be time to give the candidate the benefit of the doubt that if you can get that many folks to attended a political rally in freezing weather, a good number of these folks are likely to caucus.23)Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, he was never able to muster the same enthusiasm for the rest of his party

The future of the Party of Lincoln rests in Iowa. Will they go the way of the Whigs/No-nothings? Will the populist-right break off and form their own party if the nomination is taken away from Mr. Trump? Stay tuned!

If you have a little extra time, I suggest this Guardian piece written by Ms. Abdul pictured below (right), on why she brought her extra-large Koran to a Trump event in Reno. I am happy to report the Reno folks kept their disrespect to micro-aggressions. Yay Nevada.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/13/i-went-to-donald-trump-rally-in-my-hijab-supporters-arent-just-racist-caricatures

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Even Jeb!
2. Could someone not from Texas pull this off even??
3. Yes, some New Hampshire too
4. haha, yeah only
5. because of the horrendous odds
6. At the risk of being mercilessly mocked on the twitter, it is worth taking a moment and appreciating how lucky we are all to live here. You could have ended up in any of the nearly 200 countries in the world, and we are in the richest/most free. Yes, we have many an issue, but it is important not to lose perspective
7. Huntington wrote political theory about developing countries saying the the order in which institutions are established matters significantly to the outcome.
8. Shout-out to William Vollmann whose excessive use of exclamation points I am currently [poorly] emulating
9. not surprisingly advised by Bill Belichick
10. On a related note, Bernie’s hair is combed in nearly half his television appearances now, much marked improvement
11. I should disclose here that they offered my a job in 2008 but I declined
12. apparently all the politicians in Washington believe in war in perpetuity now that Mr. Obama has embraced the Bush doctrine
13. She was that much of a sure-thing then, promise
14. well, along with his coalition of the willing
15. trademark pending
16. This is correct term for a caucus, not “vote,” talk like you’ve done this before
17. Come back Lindsey!
18. can’t believe I’m typing this
19. around 2 million dollars, compare with the 9-figure expenditures of the Jeb PACs
20. stay tuned for a more in depth discussion on the qualifications for the office of the President. “Natural born citizen” confuses many
21. in this context it just means, he employs plenty of staff, has lots of volunteers/veterans of the process
22. example 
23. Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, he was never able to muster the same enthusiasm for the rest of his party
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