On Friday, April 19, 2024, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline issued a prehearing order setting procedures for the upcoming disciplinary hearing against Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Erika Ballou.

The order, signed by Commissioner and Presiding Officer Thomas Stockard, confirms that a two-day hearing will take place on July 11-12, 2024 at the office of the State Bar of Nevada in Las Vegas. Judge Ballou faces eight allegations of violating the Revised Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct related to comments made about Black people during sentencing hearings in 2021-2022 and improper social media activity.

Special Counsel Thomas Donaldson will have eight hours to present evidence in support of the charges, while Judge Ballou’s attorney Tom Pitaro will have eight hours to rebut the allegations and provide mitigating evidence. The order states that the purpose of the hearing is for the commission to determine if clear and convincing evidence exists that Ballou violated the judicial conduct rules and whether discipline is warranted.

The prehearing order lays out procedural requirements for the case leading up to the July hearing. Within 10 days, both sides must exchange witness lists, exhibit lists, and documents to be used in the case. Either party may submit subpoenas for documents or witnesses at least 30 days before the hearing.

Pretrial motions are due no later than 15 days before the hearing. Opening motions are limited to 15 pages, oppositions are 15 pages, and replies cannot exceed 7 pages. The parties must confer at least 21 days in advance to discuss possible stipulations and exchange intended exhibits and witness lists.

Written prehearing briefs are to be electronically filed and served to the other party at least 14 days before the hearing. The briefs must contain statements of facts, allegations/defenses, legal issues, expected witness testimony, exhibit lists, and any stipulations.

Electronic exhibit books with Bates numbering and an index, plus 5 bound copies, are also due 14 days before the hearing. Objections to evidence must be filed within 5 days of receiving prehearing briefs. The order notes that filings should be electronically submitted by 5 pm on respective due dates.

As reported by AbusiveDiscretion, Ballou faces eight ethics charges for her alleged comments about minorities during sentencing and improper social media activity, including a photo with public defenders in a hot tub. She has denied the allegations, arguing her speech was constitutionally protected and her social media private.

The prehearing order establishes procedural rules and timelines to ensure an orderly process as the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline considers whether clear evidence exists to support sanctioning Judge Ballou for possible violations of judicial conduct rules.

Judge Ballou’s courtroom is located at the Regional Justice Center, 200 Lewis Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89155, and can be reached at (702) 671-0591.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.