Separation of powers case: If it is a matter of mootness, show us the canceled check

Since most of the news media, though not all, gave it short shrift and one self-styled pundit largely dismissed it as an exercise in futility, the brief filed by NPRI’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation in its separation of powers lawsuit makes some salient points about why the suit is not moot.

No. 1  being: Where’s the canceled check?

State Sen. Mo Denis

The suit, filed by Joseph Becker, the chief legal officer and director of CJCL, seeks to put a stop to the common practice of allowing public employees to serve in the Nevada Legislature, a blatant violation of the state Constitution. In order to assure standing before the courts, Becker used computer technician William Pojunis as the plaintiff for the case, arguing that state Sen. Mo Denis’ unconstitutional employment by the Public Utilities Commission while simultaneously serving in the Legislature was injurious to Pojunis, who could not apply for Denis’ PUC computer tech job.

Shortly after the case was filed, Denis quit the PUC job and filed a motion asking the suit be declared moot.

But one of the measures of relief sought in the original suit asked the court to “Enjoin Defendant DENIS from continuing in his Nevada executive branch employment position (OK, that might be moot, but …) and from retaining any monetary or employment benefits derived from said position from such time as he began serving in the Nevada Legislation.” That’s moot only if Denis wrote a check to the state Treasury for all his salary and benefits for the past 17 years of employment during which he also was a legislator. Show us the canceled check, please.

Becker spells this out in his brief arguing against mootness, writing, “Lastly, Plaintiff POJUNIS’ status as a Nevada resident and taxpayer provide standing for his constitutional claim and Request for Relief thereon that money unconstitutionally expended by way of Defendant DENIS’ salary and benefits should be returned to the Nevada State Treasury.”

A press release from NPRI quotes Becker on other grounds for continuing the case, “Even if Denis’ resignation from the PUC means the case does not present a live controversy, the court may still consider the case if it involves a matter of ‘widespread importance.’ There are five well-established exceptions to the ‘mootness doctrine,’ and as our brief details, at least four of those exceptions are applicable in this case.”

The release lists those as: The Public-Interest Exception, the Voluntary-Cessation Exception, the Capable-of-Repetition-Yet-Evading-Review Exception, and the Ongoing-Collateral-Legal-Consequences Exception. Read the CJCL Press Release 011012 – NPRI files response in Separation-of-Powers case.

The brief includes a raft of legal citations. Read FINAL POJUNIS OPPOSITION.

6 comments on “Separation of powers case: If it is a matter of mootness, show us the canceled check

  1. Athos says:

    What a difference 40 years makes, eh? When Tricky Dicky was caught (although it did take a 1 and a half, huh) he RESIGNED. BJ Clinton played the Ginger Bread man and stayed on.

    People that have this power are NOT going to go willingly, admitting they’re wrong. We shouldn’t be surprised, should we?

    Nor should we be faint at heart in rooting them out.

    thanks for all you do, Tom.

  2. Steve says:

    Found the opinion on the Janitor;

    Click to access 1955_AGO.pdf

    See OPINION NO. 1955-59

    I cannot find the Assemblyman in question but did find in 1956 a vacant position was filled by Bruce Parks for Mineral County. Bruce Parks was a democrat appointed to a special session in 1956. According to an excerpt from “American legislative leaders in the West, 1911-1994”
    So it stands to reason a democrat was the Janitor in question and the opinion was requested by someone that did not want the janitor on the special session.


    Click to access Vacancies.pdf

  3. Steve says:

    The links want to be moderated.

  4. Sorry, Steve, I keep forgetting to check for comments of which wordpress requires approval.


  5. Steve says:

    Sorry Tom? For what? I posted the links. Hope you understand how much we like what you write. Thanks for the moderator action! I posted the reminder in a gentle way I hope.

    Sure would like to know more about that Janitor/assemblyman from Mineral County in 1955.

    I think I saw that one was first elected in 1952 then re-elected in 1954. The voters were happy.

    I think this may have been something used to oust this legislator before the special session in 1956 and we may be reading something that was not quite real even all those years ago.

    They let this person serve in 2 sessions before pushing him/her out. Seeems the lax enforcement of the separation of powers goes a long way back.

  6. […] See the article here: Separation of powers case: If it is a matter of mootness, show us the canceled check […]

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