Select Committee votes 6-1 to expel Assemblyman Steven Brooks
March 27, 2013
The Select Committee considering the fate of Assemblyman Steven Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, voted 6-1 late Tuesday to recommend he be expelled form the Nevada Assembly.
The lone "no" vote came from Dina Neal, also a North Las Vegas Democrat, who said she was not convinced expulsion was necessary.
"I am not at a level where I could support expulsion," she said.
The committee chairman, Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, said he was convinced that Brooks "is not ready, not capable of serving in this body."
"I know the motion is the correct one," he said.
Horne said afterward he isn't sure when the recommendation will be presented to the full Assembly. He said that will depend on whether other members need time to talk with their caucus leaders before making a decision.
The committee held no public discussion before taking a motion to expel Brooks, whose erratic behavior has consumed much of the Legislature's attention during the past 40 days.
The motion was made by Republican Lynn Stewart of Las Vegas, who said he did so "reluctantly and with a heavy heart."
He, along with several other members expressed, the hope that Brooks will get the mental-health help he needs
The vote came shortly after 11 p.m., nearly four hours after the meeting started. It began 90 minutes late when the meeting was closed, and the public and news media were shut out.
Leaders issued a statement quoting the Nevada constitution as requiring all meetings of the Legislature to be open, except meetings held to consider the character, professional competence or mental health of one of its members.
"While we always favor open meetings, there is a point at which we must also protect the privacy of others," Horne said.
Brooks was not at the hearing, but his lawyer, Mitchell Posin, attended.
"I'm disappointed and hope the Assembly as a whole will see things in a different way," he said.
Special Counsel Mark Ferrario, who was hired to conduct the investigation into Brooks' fitness to serve, said he didn't see any way any of the information in his report could be released without violating that rule – which can only be overridden by Brooks granting permission to release the material.
He said the data includes extensive materials collected from law enforcement and other agencies as well as medical information about Brooks.
Ferrario said there's no realistic way to release some of the private information.
"If you open the door, you open the door all the way," he said, calling on the committee to close down the session.
Posin, Ferrario said, declined to allow Brooks to be interviewed by investigators.
Posin, too, told the Select Committee he believes the hearing needed to be closed because of the nature of the case.
Brooks allegedly threatened the life of Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick before the start of the Legislature. That was followed by several other incidents including charges of committed domestic battery against his estranged with and, in a scuffle with police, attempted to take an officers gun. He faces charges stemming from that incident. There was also an incident involving a sword at a relative's house. He was at one point ordered held 72 hours for psychological evaluation.
He has been barred from the Legislative building and told not to participate in any legislative events pending resolution of the case.
The Select committee was formed to develop recommendations for the Assembly on what to do with him.
Under Nevada's constitution, the Assembly has the power to expel Brooks from that body. If the committee decides to recommend expulsion, it would require a two-thirds vote of the 42 members.
The Assembly initiated the expulsion of a member accused of libeling other lawmakers in 1867 but never took a formal vote. Back then, Assemblyman A.H. Lissak, of Storey County, had published a letter referring to the Assembly speaker's "sore-eyed, red-haired, baboon-looking face" in a political feud that prompted a ban on Territorial Enterprise reporters from the chambers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.