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September 24, 2017

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Nevada Legislature 2013:

Committee considering Brooks’ ouster convenes today with secret report


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Assemblyman Steven Brooks, right, and Assemblyman Harvey Munford have a discussion before a floor session Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 during the 2013 legislative session in Carson City.

2013 Legislative Session - Assemblyman Brooks

Assemblyman Steven Brooks is sworn in along with the rest of the assembly on the first day of the 2013 legislative session Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 in Carson City. Launch slideshow »

As a bipartisan panel of seven lawmakers readies to hear evidence about whether Assemblyman Steven Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, is fit to continue serving in the Legislature, the troubled lawmaker has furiously sent text messages and emails to his colleagues in an effort to save his seat.

Rather than presenting a defense, Brooks’ emails and text messages have both railed against the process that he believes shouldn’t be happening and sought to count the number of supporters he may still have left in the Assembly.

The select committee of three Republicans and four Democrats convenes at 6 p.m. today in a Carson City courtroom, where a special counsel will present a report on a weeks-long investigation into Brooks’ behavior.

The committee will make a recommendation to the full Assembly about whether to expel the second-term lawmaker. The Assembly can expel a member with a two-thirds vote.

That has Brooks attempting to count noses, reaching out to those lawmakers he has considered friends.

“He just needs one-third, right?” said one lobbyist familiar with Brooks’ text messages.

The Legislature hasn’t undertaken a hearing on the ouster of one of its members since 1867, when lawmakers briefly considered whether an assemblyman should be expelled for writing critically of the body in the Virginia City newspaper.

Today’s hearing is markedly different from that 19th-century attempt, which resulted in the assemblyman recanting his critical words and keeping his seat.

Brooks has been placed on administrative leave and has been banned from the Legislative Building in Carson City following two arrests and being involuntarily admitted to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

Brooks’ lawyer, Mitchell Posin, has filed a lawsuit with the Nevada Supreme Court seeking to overturn the ban.

Brooks was initially arrested in January on suspicion of threatening the life of Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, whose election as speaker he opposed. The witnesses in that case have since changed their version of events and the case is still under review by the Nevada attorney general.

In the meantime, Brooks was detained by police for a psychiatric evaluation following an incident involving a sword at a family member's home. Following that, he was arrested on charges of domestic battery and resisting a police officer.

Brooks also attempted to buy a rifle at a sporting goods store in Sparks but was denied the purchase for one year after state officials conducted a federally required criminal background check.

Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, has said the select committee would not investigate the details of Brooks’ arrests; rather, they would focus on his ethical behavior as a lawmaker in recent months as well as the safety threat he may pose to those who work in the building.

But exactly what the special counsel investigator uncovered won’t be made public.

The investigator's report, which Horne described as “voluminous,” will not be made public, according to Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Rick Combs.

“With the advice of the legislative counsel and special counsel, the select committee is doing everything practicable to ensure that this process is conducted in a manner that does not cause damage to the reputation of Mr. Brooks,” Combs said, noting the constitution allows closed hearings to consider the “character, alleged misconduct, professional competence, or physical or mental health of a person.”

The committee will go into closed session to consider what has been deemed confidential, Horne said.

“This will be for matters not for public consumption,” he said. “As an example, his medical records, or his employment records.”

Horne said the committee also had to stipulate that it would keep confidential certain documents it obtained from police agencies.

“This has never been something we wanted to be a sideshow or a circus,” Horne said. “This is a legislative proceeding and what’s been deemed appropriate will be made public.”

Horne said he expected the meeting to last until 9 p.m. The special counsel, Las Vegas lawyer Mark Ferrario, is expected to present the investigator's report. He is not expected to call witnesses.

Brooks and his lawyer will be allowed to present their response to the investigation as well as call witnesses. Brooks could also choose to make public the investigator’s report.

Posin did not return calls for comment.

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