Content on this page was originally published in the “Five Things” issue of Communiqué* (January 2020). This issue features content written by members of Nevada’s legal community including:
- “Five Practical Reminders When Preparing for Court Appearances, Especially Before a New Judge” by Honorable Cristina D. Silva
- “Five Tips to Avoid Client Trust Account Money Laundering” by Jeffrey Luszeck, Esq. and Alan Freer, Esq.
- “Five Things To Know About Nevada’s Changing CLE Rules” by Marshal S. Willick, Esq.
- “Five Things to Know About Volunteering for a CCBA Committee” by Jacquelyn Franco, Esq.
- “Five Things to Know About the Clark County Law Foundation” by Patrick Montejano
- “Nevada Appellate Court Summaries from 12-2-19” by Joe Tommasino
Additional content may be found in the full color issue of the publication (print and PDF versions), including:
- ““New Year, New Page from the Presidential Playbook” by Jennifer Roberts, Esq.
- “View from the Bench: View from the Bench: Supreme Court Marks Another Milestone” by Chief Justice Mark Gibbons
- “Five Things to Know About New Year Ad Specials for Communiqué” by Stephanie Abbott
- Bar Activities
- Member Moves
- Court News
Special thanks to the following advertisers for their support of Communiqué* (January 2020):
- Advanced Resolution Management
- Ara Shirinian Mediation
- Bank of Nevada
- First Legal
- Jason D. Mills & Associates
- Las Vegas Legal Video
- Legal Wings, Inc.
- Marquis Aurbach Coffing
- Nevada Ballet Theatre
- Olson Cannon Gormley & Stoberski
- Peak IT Group
- Portraits to You
- State Bar of Nevada
- Welt Law
Five Practical Reminders When Preparing for Court Appearances, Especially Before a New Judge
By Honorable Cristina D. Silva
As Clark County Bar Association members readers are well aware, the Eighth Judicial District Court bench has several new members, myself included. Between retirements, the creation of new judicial departments, and more, additional changes are on the horizon. Given the changing landscape, here are five practical reminders that might assist your next appearance before an unfamiliar judge.
1. Review department guidelines. Each judge has department guidelines available on the Eighth Judicial District Court website. The guidelines provide information regarding scheduling, motions preferences, trial protocol, and more. The website should be your first stop when preparing for hearings or trials. If something is not clear from the website, I suggest reaching out to chambers for additional information.
2. Ask your colleagues. Like anyone else, judges are creatures of habit. Given the volume of cases that flow through the Regional Justice Center every day, a particular judge’s preferences and protocols are quickly established. Your colleagues are a tremendous resource to figuring out those preferences and protocols. As one example, with the rare exception, I do not entertain oral motions for release from custody and/or bail modifications. The practitioners who regularly appear in my courtroom are aware of this fact and often communicate this to their clients ahead of time.
3. Communication is key. Lack of communication can cause significant issues and delays. Often times, discovery disputes are the direct result of not responding to opposing counsel’s questions. Similarly, cases are not resolved in an expeditious fashion because the parties have not taken the time to pick up the phone and talk to each other about issues and expectations. It is always clear to a judge when the parties are effectively communicating, and when they are not. Communicate – and – consider doing it over the phone where possible. Emails and texts can be misinterpreted, which can cause even more issues.
4. Avoid filing generic motions. Judges rely on the parties to meet and confer early (and when possible, often) in order to grapple with the case and find the true disputes and crucial issues. If the parties are communicating, as suggested above, it will allow them to frontload the issues and address them accordingly. This leads to more productive hearings, and ultimately, streamlined case presentations.
5. Be prepared. Be prepared. Be prepared. Doing your homework goes a long way. When attorneys present a clear and concise oral argument, or appear at trial fully prepared, they truly facilitate the pursuit of justice. Prepared attorneys quickly establish a reputation of being professional, which in turn lends itself to greater credibility. Like practitioners, judges talk to each other. As a result, your reputation often precedes you.
My thanks to the Clark County Bar Association, and my fellow American University Washington College of Law alumna, Heather Anderson-Fintak, Esq., for the opportunity to contribute to this publication.
Honorable Cristina D. Silva was appointed by Governor Steve Sisolak to serve in the Eighth Judicial District, Department IX, in March of 2019. Her case assignments consist of both civil and criminal matters, and she now presides over the MAT Re-Entry Court. Prior to her appointment, she served as the Chief of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada. She also worked as an Assistant United States Attorney for over eight years, overseeing and prosecuting cases involving organized crime and gangs, child exploitation, human trafficking, and financial-based crimes. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ms. Silva was the Assistant Chief of Litigation in the Domestic Violence Unit at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. She received her J.D. from American University Washington College of Law and her B.A. from Wellesley College.
Five Tips to Avoid Client Trust Account Money Laundering
By Jeffrey Luszeck, Esq. and Alan Freer, Esq.
1. What is money laundering?
Money laundering is the conversion of proceeds from crime into legitimate currency or other assets. Money laundering involves three stages: (1) placement stage – where funds from illegal activity are introduced into the financial system; (2) layering stage – where funds are disguised and/or distanced from their illegal source through the use of a series of parties or complex financial transactions; and (3) integration stage – where the “laundered” funds are returned to the organized criminal group that generated said funds.
While money laundering typically presents itself in cash intensive businesses such as restaurants, bars, and parking structures, client trust accounts also present money laundering risks because said accounts are not subject to mandatory requirements for cash deposits and withdrawals of over $10,000 and clients are not required to disclose their tax identification number. Consequently, financial institutions, which typically have stringent “know your client” requirements, have no direct relationship with, or knowledge of, the beneficial owners of client trust accounts.
2. What laws and rules do I need to know?
Lawyers must comply with federal laws that prohibit conduct that aids, abets, or commits a violation of anti-money laundering (18 USC 1956, 1957) and counterterrorism (Anti-Terrorism & Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 & USA Patriot Act) laws. For example, in 2016 a San Diego lawyer was sentenced to five years in prison for using his trust account to hide the source of $12 million dollars that was later sent to international destinations.
NRPC 1.2(d) ethically prohibits attorneys from counseling and/or assisting clients to engage in conduct the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent, such as money laundering. A lawyer may, however, discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct, including counseling with a client to determine the validity, scope, meaning, or application of law.
3. What should I look for?
Anti-money laundering compliance begins with adequate client intake procedures, such as obtaining basic information about a potential client. The level of due diligence varies on the risk profile of the client. For example, risk profiles are heightened when a client wires international funds or requests to deposit cash into the client trust account.
In addition, attorneys should be mindful if the client is reluctant to provide basic information or documentation required in the scope of representation and whether the client is native to, a resident of, and/or incorporated in a high-risk country such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Syria, Uganda, or Vanuatu.
4. What should I do if my client trust account has been used for money laundering?
Consider terminating the relationship with the client suspected of money laundering (NRPC 1.16), and disclosing/reporting the client’s action to the appropriate authorities. NRPC 1.6(2) and (3) permit disclosure of confidential client information without consent to prevent the commission of and/or to rectify injury from a crime using their services.
5. Where can I learn more?
Several agencies and organizations have published best-practices guidelines to assist lawyers with preventing client trust account money laundering. Below are several such guides:
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Report/2017/CSReport-13-4.pdf
Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime: https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/TGIATOC-What-can-lawyers-do-Policy-Note-1971-web.pdf
- The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel: https://www.actec.org/assets/1/6/A-Lawyers-Guide-to-Detecting-and-Preventing-Money-Laundering-October-2014.pdf
Jeffrey P. Luszeck is a partner of the Las Vegas law firm of Solomon Dwiggins & Freer, Ltd., where he focuses his practice primarily on trust and estate litigation and small business litigation. Mr. Luszeck also handles all aspects of trusts and estate administration.
Alan D. Freer is a member of the Las Vegas law firm of Solomon Dwiggins & Freer, Ltd., where he focuses his practice primarily on trust and estate litigation. Mr. Freer also routinely prosecutes and defends claims for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, undue influence, breach of trust, accounting, fiduciary removal, competency, lack of capacity, unjust enrichment, closely held business disputes, and elder abuse.
Five Things To Know About Nevada’s Changing CLE Rules
By Marshal S. Willick, Esq.
After five years of proposals, comments, public hearings, and debate since 2014, Nevada has a radically re-designed CLE program. The current regulations, which are still being amended, are posted at https://www.nvcleboard.org/pdfs/BoardRegulations.pdf. For the full history of CLE in Nevada, and a fuller explanation of what happened and why, see Legal Note Vol. 68 – The Past, Present, and Future of CLE in Nevada, posted at https://www.willicklawgroup.com/newsletters/.
1. The burden is on you
As of 2019, CLE reporting requires annual certification each year by each lawyer of CLE attended, subject to random audits for compliance with the 13-credit annual requirement, and sanctions for misrepresentation.
Pursuant to SCR 210(3), CLE reporting is to be by submission of an “Affirmation of Attendance and Compliance” online at www.nvcleboard.org. As of November 2019, no such reporting form is posted, but it is promised.
2. CLE should be cheaper
Under the 2014-2019 rules, the CLE Board charged high fees to those providing and receiving CLE, even if it was provided for free. Under the 2019 regulations, the $40 annual CLE fee was made a sum-certain cap for attendees. The per-credit-hour fees assessed for seeking additional education out of state were abandoned.
3. You again have lots of options, and (mostly) free CLE should return
From 2014 to 2019, free and local high-quality CLE largely disappeared because of the fee structure demanding large payments from those providing or receiving such CLE.
Under the 2019 regulations, there are no fees for writing scholarly articles and publications. State and county bar associations, courts, and non-profits are largely exempt from fees for providing CLE programs. But the CLE Board still wants money from most anyone else who provides CLE – whether or not the provider charges those attending. To be an “accredited provider” you have to pay $500 per year, and to provide CLE to others, even for free, you have to pay the CLE Board $30 to $75, depending on the number of credit hours.
4. The public still will not see your CLE
The CLE Board has flatly refused to make public each lawyer’s CLE history to assist those seeking legal representation to compare the continuing education of prospective counsel.
5. Some oddities and problems remain
The 2019 regulations still have some contradictions and uncertainties. For example:
The Nevada Supreme Court directed the CLE Board to enact regulations to “discover and encourage the offering of courses and programs which will satisfy the educational requirements of these rules, whether offered within or without the State of Nevada.” But the board’s regulations require each member to get “pre-approval” of out of state programs at least 45 days in advance of attending. And credit will only be given for teaching elsewhere if the program has been approved by the board; other states’ CLE programs normally are not “approved.”
Regulation 6 says that if you want to put on a CLE, you must submit an application “within thirty days” of the program. It probably means “at least” but several of the regulations have similar clarity issues.
There is a “rat rule.” Regulation 3(D)(1) requires every attorney who witnesses another lawyer not remaining present for a CLE course to “submit such information concerning the alleged violation to the program monitor” and if the program provider does not do something about it “to report the conduct to Bar Counsel for the State Bar of Nevada.”
Our CLE rules remain a work in progress.
Marshal S. Willick, Esq. is the Principal of the WILLICK LAW GROUP, an A/V-rated Las Vegas family law firm, and QDROMasters, its pension order drafting division. He can be reached at 3591 East Bonanza Rd., Ste. 200, Las Vegas, NV 89110-2198. Phone: (702) 438-4100; fax: (702) 438-5311; e-mail: Marshal@WillickLawGroup.com.
Five Things to Know About Volunteering for a CCBA Committee
By Jacquelyn Franco, Esq.
It’s a new year! Are you looking to build a new you? Forget the gym, forget the diet … become a volunteer and join one of the Clark County Bar Association’s committees!
1. CCBA’s Community Service Committee
This committee is focused on organizing CCBA’s members to provide outreach services to the community at large in southern Nevada. This committee is open to all CCBA members who want to get involved and/or to plan activities for CCBA members to provide outreach services to the community. Meeting are usually the first Friday of the month.
2. CCBA’s Continuing Legal Education Committee
The mission of the Continuing Legal Education Committee is to create high quality, low cost CLE seminars for the benefit of bar members and legal community. Committee members spend about five hours per month working on committee matters, but the amount of time may vary depending on whether the member is actively involved in organizing a seminar. As an additional bonus, seminar producing CLE Committee members are entitled to attend CCBA CLE seminars at no cost! The CLE Committee is limited to current attorneys and JD members of the CCBA and meets at noon on the second Friday of every month.
3. CCBA’s New Lawyers Committee
The New Lawyers Committee is for attorneys admitted to practice in Nevada within the last five years, regardless of age. Committee members work an average of three hours per month. For example, the committee coordinates and participates with the William S. Boyd School of Law to produce student competitions. Members volunteer to help with bar events, including the annual Meet Your Judges Mixer and the New Admittees Reception. Also, the committee plans to host social mixers periodically. The New Lawyers Committee meets at 12:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month.
4. CCBA’s Publication Committee
The Publications Committee produces the Communiqué, the official publication of the CCBA. Committee members write articles as well as solicit articles from other professionals on assigned topics. Meetings are spent brainstorming story ideas and matching topics with potential authors. The level of participation on this committee varies. Although many committee members have prior experience writing for their law school journals or college newspapers, such experience is not necessary. The Publications Committee is limited to current attorney or JD members of the CCBA and meets at noon on the first Tuesday of every month.
5. CCBA’s Social Events Committee
This relatively new committee is open to ideas and opinions on how best to facilitate opportunities for members to meet and socialize. The committee hopes to plan events to appeal to members at all states of their careers. The Social Committee has yet to schedule a regular meeting day/time.
For more information about the CCBA’s Committees, or to confirm when a meeting will be held, please visit the CCBA Events Calendar online at http://www.clarkcountybar.org/ccba-events/ or contact CCBA staff at (702) 387-6011.
Jacquelyn Franco, Esq. is an associate with Backus, Carranza & Burden. She focuses on insurance defense, product and premises liability, and commercial transportation. Mrs. Franco can be reached at (702) 872-5555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Five Things to Know About the Clark County Law Foundation
By Patrick Montejano
1. Mission changed!
CCLF started 2019 with a new mission that reflects its programs and future direction. The mission is to empower Nevada, especially our youth, through service to the community and education about the legal system and its history.
2. New restorative justice model addition to Trial By Peers
CCLF’s Trial by Peers (TBP) program will partner with local schools in early 2020 to facilitate a youth-led conferencing program with an emphasis on restorative justice best practices. The new program will run parallel to the traditional TBP courtroom experience. The youth-ledconference program, “the Circle,” will still hold teens accountable for their actions in an environment that will foster an open dialogue from everyone involved.
3. CCLF partners with Filevine to assist client management
CCLF’s TBP program serves close to 300 clients annually, with 50 active peer counselors and 35 Nevada state-licensed attorneys. Managing each client from pre to post-trial can be a daunting task, especially keeping track of all sentencing requirements and staying compliant with specific grant requirements. Until recently, client management consisted of entering data into a long, formulated spreadsheet. Filevine provided access to their program at no cost and trained CCLF staff and attorneys to assist in the implementation process. The new client management system will assist in communication amongst all key players in each case, correspondence to each client, and up-to-date client status from pre through post-trial.
4. CCLF partners with CCBA to blanket the homeless
In 2016, CCBA and CCLF established a partnership with Blanket the Homeless. This year, CCLF received $1,350 in contributions to purchase blankets. CCLF and CCBA distributed the blankets at the annual Project Homeless Connect. The event partners with 150 organizations to provide essential services to individuals in need. CCLF is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization, and all contributions to the organization are tax-deductible.
5. CCLF expands Let Freedom Ring Project with art
Historically, the Let Freedom Ring Project consisted of the presentation of the annual Liberty Bell Award and a reading and poster contest of the Liberty Bell to a local elementary school. In 2019, CCLF invited all Clark County students K-12 to participate in the art project. Teens from grades seven to 12 were judged on their interpretation of the 2019 Law Day theme of “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society.” Overall, CCLF received 142 submissions from the Clark County students. The top two students from three age categories were recognized at the Liberty Bell Awards presentations and received a monetary prize.
Patrick Montejano is the Director of the Clark County Law Foundation, a 501(c )(3) non-profit providing community service programs, including the successful teen court program Trial By Peers. Patrick may be reached at email@example.com, (702) 333-8277.
Communiqué is published eleven times per year with an issue published monthly except for July by the Clark County Bar Association, P.O. Box 657, Las Vegas, NV 89125-0657. Phone: (702) 387-6011.
Communiqué accepts advertisements from numerous sources and makes no independent investigation or verification of any claim or statement made in the advertisement. All articles, letters, and advertisements contained in this publication represent the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Clark County Bar Association.
Communiqué is mailed to all paid members of CCBA, with subscriptions available to non-members for $75.00 per year. For advertising information and editorial policy, please contact Steph Abbott at (702) 387-6011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2020 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.