LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas Township Justice Court Judges Melanie Andress-Tobiasson and Amy Chelini “pose a substantial threat of serious harm to the public or to the administration of justice,” the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline ruled Friday.
The Commission said it intends to suspend Judges Tobiasson and Chelini based on their investigation. The Commission will hold a public hearing before ordering such a suspension, scheduled in December.
The reason for this action is that the Commission has determined that Tobiasson and Chelini pose a substantial threat of serious harm to the public or to the administration of justice, based upon the findings of the Commission’s investigation into numerous allegations of judicial misconduct on both judges.
The Baltimore Post-Examiner published a series of articles about Tobiasson, including an exclusive interview with the judge about allegations of police corruption but it is unknown if the information in those articles played any role in the Commission’s decision. The Commission did not cite any specific reason for its ruling. The Commission, however, did request and obtain articles published by the Post-Examiner. The Commission has been investigating the judge since 2018.
It is also unknown about the specifics regarding Chelini’s case.
The following is a transcript of the Commission’s ruling:
ORDER SETTING CONSOLIDATED PUBLIC HEARING AND NOTICE OF PANEL MEMBERS, ORDER REGARDING MEDIA ACCESS
TO: THE HONORABLE MELANIE ANDRESS-TOBIASSON, Respondent THE HONORABLE AMY CHELINI, Respondent WILLIAM B. TERRY, ESQ., Counsel for Respondent Judge Andress-Tobiasson THOMAS F. PITARO, ESQ., Counsel for Respondent Judge Chelini THOMAS C. BRADLEY, ESQ., Prosecuting Officer BRIAN HUTCHINS, ESQ., Prosecuting Officer
Pursuant to order of the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline, a consolidated public hearing on the Commission’s Notices of Intent to Suspend (attached as Exhibit 1) in the above-captioned matters has been scheduled to commence on December 16, 2019, at the hour of 8:00 a.m., or as soon thereafter as the matter may be heard, and will conclude at or before 5:00 p.m. on December 17, 2019. The public hearing will be conducted at the William S. Boyd School of Law, Thomas & Mack Moot Court Facility, 4505 S Maryland Pkwy., Las Vegas, NV 89154. The Respondents, Respondents’ counsel and the Prosecuting Officers will appear in person.
All documentary evidence, including witness lists, shall be electronically served on the opposing party and filed at email@example.com not later than 5:00 p.m. on December 11, 2019. All exhibits must be bates stamped and tabbed; further, the Prosecuting Officers’ exhibits will be identified by numbers and Respondents’ exhibits by letters.
The taking of evidence will begin at 8:00 a.m. Collectively, the Prosecuting Officers will present evidence regarding whether Respondents pose either (1) a substantial threat of serious harm to the public; or (2) a substantial threat of serious harm to the administration of justice for six (6) hours. The Prosecuting Officers shall include an opening statement in their presentation. Collectively, Respondents shall have six (6) hours to present evidence as to why a suspension should not be imposed. Respondents shall include an opening statement in their presentation. It may be reserved until the close of their case, but it may not be waived. At the conclusion of the evidentiary phase, the Commission will entertain final arguments not to exceed thirty (30) minutes by the Prosecuting Officers (collectively) and Respondents (collectively). The allotted time for parties to present evidence is at the discretion of the Commission.
The rule of exclusion of witnesses will be in effect. Each Party will be responsible for ensuring that any intended witness (with the exception of Respondents) is not present for testimony during any portion of the hearing. The requirement not to discuss testimony with other witnesses will be a continuing duty of each witness through the conclusion of the case.
If, after the presentation of evidence and final arguments, the Commission anticipates that it will not have sufficient time to deliberate on site, the Commission may deliberate at a later time. A final decision will be announced thereafter in a manner and format consistent with appropriate practice and the law.
The following panelists are scheduled to participate as members of the Commission: Gary Vause (Chair), Stefanie Humphrey (Vice-Chair), Hon. Mason Simons (Presiding Officer), Karl Armstrong, Esq., Hon. Thomas Armstrong, Bruce C. Hahn, Esq., and Joseph Sanford.
Members of the media intending to record this public hearing must obtain consent to do so from the Commission.
NOTICE OF COMMISSION’S INTENT TO SUSPEND RESPONDENT WITH SALARY
You are hereby notified of the Commission’s intent to suspend Judge Melanie Andress-Tobiasson from the exercise of judicial office, with salary, pursuant to the provisions of NRS 1.4675. The reason for this action is that the Commission has determined that Judge Andress-Tobiasson poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the public or to the administration of justice, based upon the findings of a Commission investigation into numerous allegations of judicial misconduct involving Judge Andress-Tobiasson. A copy of the Commission records regarding the allegations to date has been sent to you under separate cover. You are entitled to a minimum of seven (7) days’ notice of the Commission’s intention to suspend you pursuant to NRS 1.4675(5). You are also entitled to an opportunity to respond to this Notice. You must submit your written, confidential response no later than 4:30 p.m., PST, on November 5, 2019.
The Commission shall hold a public hearing before ordering such a suspension, unless you waive the right to a hearing. The decision of the Commission must be made public. You may submit any written response, including any waiver of said hearing, via email to the Commission’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org, in which case you must also provide an original and one (1) copy to the mailing address listed above. That set of document(s) must be served by mail the same day that you submit any document by email. In the event you exercise your right to request a public hearing pursuant to statute, the Commission will set the time and place for the hearing in due course. Should such a hearing be conducted, you will be required to appear in person. The full Commission has authorized the Chairman to sign this Order on its behalf.
NOTICE OF COMMISSION’S INTENT TO SUSPEND RESPONDENT WITH SALARY
You are hereby notified of the Commission’s intent to suspend Judge Amy Chelini from the exercise of judicial office, with salary, pursuant to the provisions of NRS 1.4675. The reason for this action is that the Commission has determined that Judge Chelini poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the public or to the administration of justice, based upon the findings of a Commission investigation into numerous allegations of judicial misconduct involving Judge Chelini. A copy of the Commission records regarding the allegations to date has been sent under separate cover.
(Editor’s Note: The next paragraphs are omitted and are identical to the above for Judge Tobiasson).
What does Nevada Revised Statute 1.4675 state
Nevada Revised Statute 1.4675 sets the circumstances under which a judge may be suspended with pay.
The Commission shall suspend a judge from the exercise of office with salary:
(a) While there is pending an indictment or information charging the judge with a crime punishable as a felony pursuant to the laws of the State of Nevada or the United States; or (b) When the judge has been adjudged mentally incompetent or insane.
During any stage of a disciplinary proceeding, the Commission may suspend the judge from the exercise of office with salary pending a final disposition of the complaint if the Commission determines, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the judge poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the public or to the administration of justice.
The Commission shall give the judge 7 days’ notice of its intention to suspend the judge pursuant to this section and shall give the judge an opportunity to respond. The Commission shall hold a public hearing before ordering such a suspension, unless the judge waives the right to the hearing. The decision of the Commission must be made public.
A judge suspended pursuant to this section may appeal the suspension to the appellate court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to the rules fixed by the Supreme Court pursuant to Section 4 of Article 6 of the Nevada Constitution. If a judge appeals such a suspension: (a) The standard of review for such an appeal is an abuse of discretion standard; and (b) The proceedings held at the appellate court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to the rules fixed by the Supreme Court concerning the suspension must be open to the public.
Within 60 days after a decision by the Commission to suspend a judge pursuant to this section, the Commission shall: (a) Have a formal statement of charges filed against the judge; (b) Rescind the suspension; or (c) Enter into a deferred discipline agreement with the judge pursuant to NRS 1.468.
The Commission may suspend a judge pursuant to this section only in accordance with its procedural rules.
As of Friday, according to the Commission’s website, Tobiasson is still under investigation stemming from 2018, however, a formal statement of charges have not been filed.
It is not known if that investigation is related to the Commission’s intent to suspend Tobiasson.
For more information about Tobiasson please read the following Baltimore Post-Examiner articles:
March 15, 2019, ‘Why is the Las Vegas media silent on Judge Melanie Andress-Tobiasson?’
August 29, 2019, ‘Judge: FBI agent couldn’t trust FBI Las Vegas Division’
October 20, 2019, ‘Vice Detective who outed Las Vegas judge transferred to Homicide’
Doug authored over 135 articles on the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas Massacre, more than any other single journalist in the country. He investigates stories on corruption, law enforcement and crime. Doug is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former police officer, deputy sheriff and criminal investigator. Doug spent 20 years in the hotel/casino industry as an investigator and then as Director of Security and Surveillance. He also spent a short time with the US Dept. of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration. In 1986 Doug was awarded Criminal Investigator of the Year by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. In 1992 and 1993 Doug testified in court that a sheriff’s office official and the county prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence during the 1988 trial of a man accused of the attempted murder of his wife. Doug’s testimony led to a judge’s decision to order the release of the man from prison in 1992 and awarded him a new trial, in which he was later acquitted. As a result of Doug breaking the police “blue wall of silence,” he was fired by the county sheriff. His story was featured on Inside Edition, Current Affair and CBS News’ “Street Stories with Ed Bradley”. In 1992 after losing his job, at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Doug infiltrated a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont fortune heir and his wife. Doug has been a guest on national television and radio programs speaking on the stories he now writes as an investigative journalist.