Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Senators Who Fought Recalls


We disagree.

That was the unanimous view of the Nevada Supreme Court today in the final decision on the 2017 recalls of State Senators Joyce Woodhouse and Nicole Cannizzaro.

The Justices’ disagreement was with Michael Wall, who was the sole attorney to argue in front of the Court in March on behalf of the people who brought the recall petitions – former Assemblyman Stephe Silberkraus, Chelyn Sawyer, David Satory, Claire Roth, Neil Roth, and Kathryn McKenzie.

Wall had argued in front of the Justices that a full count of signatures on recall petitions was improper, because the law – as it stands now – only requires a 5 percent sampling. The Justices ruled that Clark County District Court Judge Jerry Wiese was correct in ordering a full count of signatures.

“The district court did not abuse its discretion by ordering a full verification of the petition signatures and accepting the results of that verification,” the Justices wrote in their decision.

In fact, the Court said, before the District Court ruling requiring a full count, “there was substantial evidence to call into question the validity of the registrar’s statistical verification,” including numerous accountings by both parties that gave conflicting results.

In the end, when all signatures were counted, there were not enough signatures to recall either Woodhouse or Cannizzaro.

“Ultimately,” the Court said, “the full verification revealed that the original verification was flawed.”

(Senator Patricia Farley was also the subject of a recall petition, but not enough signatures were collected for her at the first 5 percent sampling.)

The Court refused to rule on another of Wall’s central arguments – that it is unconstitutional that people can ask that their names be removed from petitions they’ve signed – what the law calls “strike requests.”

“Both the Woodhouse and Cannizzaro recall petitions fail regardless of whether the strike requests are constitutional. As such, resolving this issue is not necessary to resolve the case before us,” wrote the Court.

The Justices said that Wall “presented interesting legal arguments” regarding the constitutionality of strike requests, but that “at this point, the question is merely academic.”

Currently, lawmakers are considering SB450, which enshrines into law that all signatures must be verified in most recall cases. The law will also make recall petitioners pay for the costs of signature verification.