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Troubled lawmaker says he’s ‘lucid,’ ready to serve

Updated Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 | 12:30 p.m.

Booking photo of Assemblyman Steven Brooks of North Las Vegas.

Booking photo of Assemblyman Steven Brooks of North Las Vegas.

Assembly leaders tried to offer troubled Assemblyman Steven Brooks a quiet way out of Carson City.

But if there’s anything Brooks has demonstrated since his arrest last month on charges he threatened Assembly Speaker-elect Marilyn Kirkpatrick, it hasn’t been his ability to be quiet.

So, Assembly leaders say they will convene a special committee to determine whether Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, is fit to serve in the Legislature. And they have promised to explore not just the behavior that resulted in his arrest on Jan. 19 , but other previously undisclosed complaints about his conduct in the weeks and months prior.

It’s a tacit ultimatum to Brooks: Take a break from Carson City or we’ll publicly display even more of your dirty laundry.

“We’ve always been concerned about Mr. Brooks’ welfare,” Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, said. “We asked him to take a leave of absence, to get well and then come back. We were rebuffed.”

Brooks was released earlier this week from a hospital where he underwent a psychiatric evaluation after being detained a second time by police during a disturbance at his grandmother’s house that involved a sword.

Sources say he plans to attend the opening ceremonies of the Nevada Legislature on Monday.

And in a brief phone call with The Associated Press, Brooks declared himself “lucid” and ready to serve. Brooks spoke non-stop for about three minutes when reached Friday by telephone. Then he hung up.

Las Vegas journalist Jon Ralston reported Brooks has requested 20 seats for guests who plan to accompany him. Lawmakers usually have two or three family members with them on the floor during the ceremony.

Horne said security measures are in place and officials have no plans to prevent Brooks from taking his seat on the floor Monday — as of Friday morning.

“As of today, he is Assemblyman Steven Brooks from Assembly District 17. We’ll take any appropriate measures if we deem he is not safe or anything like that, but as of now, he’s the assemblyman,” Horne said.

Even so, lawmakers will begin a course of action next week that could result in Brooks’ ouster — something the Legislature has never done before.

A select committee will be appointed to begin hearings into whether “he is fit to perform his duties and whether he presents a danger to the people in the building,” Horne said.

Horne plans to chair that committee, raising some questions about the ability of the committee to be impartial following the tumultuous period after Brooks’ arrest.

In the days after Brooks was found with a gun and ammunition in his vehicle in Las Vegas, Horne was escorted by an armed police officer in Carson City.

Horne also wore a handgun to a committee hearing the day Brooks arrived at the Legislature — Brooks was covering his face with a hoodie and carrying a cane — to make living arrangements for the session.

But Horne said the fact that he and other lawmakers took safety precautions following the arrest “doesn’t mean we have any ill-will for Mr. Brooks.”

Horne said he is still crafting the criteria by which the committee will determine whether Brooks is fit to serve. He said the committee won’t be passing judgment on Brooks’ mental health or the crime he is accused of committing.

The Nevada Attorney General will be deciding whether to file formal charges.

“We will make sure it is open and transparent, that he has due process, he’s able to come and speak on his own behalf,” Horne said. “I don’t want people to think this is some type of criminal tribunal...We want him to get his health in order.

“But I think there are issues that have arisen when this all came to light of other conduct and behavior that Mr. Brooks may or may not have done in the past few months.”

The committee will convene next week but, Horne said, it may not conclude its work right away. The committee, which will include both Democrats and Republicans, will forward a recommendation to the full Assembly to decide whether to seat Brooks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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