Las Vegas Sun

March 20, 2018

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Sobel barred from holding judge post

CARSON CITY -- The state Judicial Discipline Commission Wednesday found former District Judge Jeffrey Sobel guilty of three violations, ruling that he did try to pressure lawyers to give him campaign contributions in his 2002 re-election campaign.

After a six-hour hearing in Las Vegas, the commission issued a public censure of Sobel, who is now in the mediation business after losing the election to Judge Jackie Glass. It also said Sobel could not be either an appointive or an elective judge in the future.

Sobel was not fined, David Sarnowski, executive director of the discipline commission, said.

Sobel maintained his comments to the attorneys involved were in jest and not serious. He could not be reached for comment whether he might appeal the action by the commission.

The complaint, filed last year with the commission, said Sobel while in a conference with a lawyer suggested the lawyer had better contribute to his campaign. Sobel also asked another lawyer why he had attended a campaign fundraiser for his opponent, and Sobel was irked with another lawyer who contributed more money to his opponent than to Sobel.

The commission also ordered that legal action be taken to collect a $10,000 fine previously imposed against former Henderson pro tem judge Peter LaPorta for improperly taking money from a client and failing to pay more than $8,000 in parking tickets.

Sarnowski said neither LaPorta nor his lawyer Patrick McDonald showed up at the hearing. He said the commission directed that a contempt action be filed against LaPorta for his failure to attend the hearing and that McDonald's absence be referred to the state Bar of Nevada.

The commission previously had barred LaPorta from ever holding a judicial office.

The complaint against LaPorta said he "hatched a scheme" in which he accepted $24,000 from Lydia Harrison to pay a bribe to officials in Mexico to get Lydia's grandmother released from custody in that country.

LaPorta took the money while he was attending to official court duties and in his judge's robe. The commission found previously there no evidence LaPorta ever paid out the money and called this "fraudulent behavior."

The commission also found LaPorta owed more than $8,000 in parking tickets that he never paid.

LaPorta never answered the complaint filed last year by the commission.