Published Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 | 2:17 p.m.
Updated Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 | 7:11 p.m.
A Las Vegas lawyer representing biker club members in a federal police-harassment lawsuit claimed Friday that police retaliated against him by arresting him for trying to advise a client who had been stopped on a traffic infraction.
Attorney Stephen Stubbs said he was handcuffed and jailed for several hours Thursday evening on a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a public officer. He said he tried to invoke the motorcyclist's constitutional right to have an attorney present during questioning by Las Vegas police.
"This was most definitely malicious," Stubbs said. "Since when is an attorney arrested for standing up for his client's Fifth Amendment right to counsel?"
Metro Police Officer Jose Hernandez said Stubbs was arrested on suspicion of obstructing officers who were trying to issue a ticket. Regarding Stubbs' allegation, Hernandez said, "There is no harassment. He was arrested for obstruction."
Stubbs said his client, a member of Bikers for Christ, was stopped outside a meeting involving several motorcycle clubs. The client was cited on suspicion of failure to signal a turn, failure to produce proof of insurance and driving without a motorcycle endorsement on his license. Stubbs said he will contest those charges.
Stubbs said he was separated from his client and taken to jail, where he was released early Friday and told to appear March 17 in Las Vegas Justice Court. He said he intends to fight the charge against him, which could carry a six-month jail sentence.
"I think there are larger issues here," Stubbs said. "They're trying to bully me off the case."
Stubbs is representing members of biker groups, including the Mongols, Vagos, Stray Cats and Bandidos, in a federal civil rights complaint filed in June 2012 alleging harassment by Las Vegas and other area police.
It was filed a day after Mongols national leaders met in Stubbs' hometown, Boulder City, under the watchful eye of hundreds of local and state police and federal law-enforcement agents.
The lawsuit seeks almost $12 million in damages on behalf of multiple clients from the Las Vegas Metropolitan and North Las Vegas police departments, Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie and individual Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Boulder City police officers and supervisors.
The lawsuit was amended in October and is pending in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.
Stubbs, 36, a tax attorney, characterizes the bikers he represents as members of fraternal organizations of motorcycle enthusiasts.
State and federal law enforcement generally characterize the groups as outlaw criminal enterprises.