Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, March 8, 2013 | 12:38 p.m.
A judge in Las Vegas scheduled a May 7 evidentiary hearing for an embattled state lawmaker facing a felony charge that he attacked a police officer who responded to a domestic dispute.
Democratic Assemblyman Steven Brooks didn't personally appear for Friday's brief hearing before Justice of the Peace Melanie Andress-Tobiasson.
Brooks' lawyer, Mitchell Posin, said outside court that Brooks intends to plead not guilty and fight the felony charge of resisting a police officer with a weapon and three lesser charges lodged against him this week following a Feb. 10 scuffle at the Las Vegas home of Brooks' estranged wife.
Posin called the charges "an exaggeration."
"It was just a domestic disturbance and they managed to get a felony out of it," the defense attorney said.
The hearing schedule means the case won't reach trial before the Legislature ends June 3.
Brooks, 41, was initially arrested on misdemeanor charges of domestic battery and obstructing a public officer after being accused of grabbing for an officer's gun. Brooks' estranged wife, Ada, had called 911 from a neighbor's house to report that he verbally and physically attacked her in her home.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson decided Monday to file the felony resisting an officer count, plus misdemeanor charges of assault on an officer, battery-domestic violence and obstructing a public officer. The felony charge carries a penalty of up to five years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.
Nothing in state law or the state constitution would automatically disqualify Brooks from serving his elected position if he is convicted of a felony. But a convicted felon cannot run for office without having his or her civil rights restored.
Separately, Brooks is asking the state Supreme Court to void an order by the state Assembly's Democratic leader, William Horne, placing him on leave from the Legislature and banning him from the legislative building in Carson City as a potential "direct threat to others."
Brooks argues that his legislative colleagues don't have the authority to strip him of his elected position representing his North Las Vegas constituents.
The state high court has set an expedited schedule to decide the question, with the Legislature already in the second month of its four-month term.
Horne chairs an Assembly committee that has hired an independent counsel to investigate Brooks' conduct and present findings for a recommendation to the full 42-member Assembly. It would take a two-thirds majority, or 28 votes, to take the unprecedented step of ousting a colleague.
Brooks' troubles became public Jan. 19, a little more than two weeks before he was sworn in to a second term.
North Las Vegas police arrested him in a car with a gun and dozens of rounds of ammunition following reports from other elected officials that Brooks threatened Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick.
The state attorney general's office is has not filed criminal charges in that case.
Days later, Brooks was hospitalized for a psychiatric evaluation after Las Vegas police were called to a disturbance at Brooks' grandmother's house involving a sword.
Then, Brooks was denied permission Feb. 21 to buy a rifle at a Sparks sporting goods store, after the Nevada Department of Public Safety reviewed forms he submitted for a background check.
Both Kirkpatrick and Horne have obtained restraining orders against Brooks.