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In re Discipline of Colin

Supreme Court of Nevada

September 19, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF DISCIPLINE OF JAMES A. COLIN, BAR

         Automatic review of a disciplinary board hearing panel's recommendation for attorney discipline. Attorney suspended.

          James A. Colin, Las Vegas, in Pro Se.

          Daniel M. Hooge, Bar Counsel, and Phillip J. Pattee and Bri F. Corrigan, Assistant Bar Counsel, Las Vegas, for State Bar of Nevada.

         BEFORE THE COURT EN BANC.[1]

          OPINION

          STIGLICH, J.

         The Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) establish ethical guidelines for lawyers, some of which are mandatory and therefore define proper conduct for purposes of professional discipline. We consider in this matter whether to discipline attorney James A. Colin for violating rules that direct lawyers not to engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal (RPC 3.5(d)), not to make statements concerning a judge's integrity or qualifications that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to the statements' truth or falsity (RPC 8.2(a)), and not to act in a way that is prejudicial to the administration of justice (RPC 8.4(d)). We conclude that the State Bar proved that Colin made statements in pleadings to the court concerning the integrity of several justices that he knew to be false or with reckless disregard for their truth or falsity and that he engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, but the evidence does not establish that Colin engaged in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal because the alleged conduct did not occur inside a courtroom or similar setting. Considering the nature of the misconduct and similar discipline cases, we conclude that a six-month-and-one-day suspension serves the purpose of attorney discipline.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This discipline matter arises out of Colin's representation of condemned inmate Charles Lee Randolph in an appeal from a district court order denying Randolph's second postconviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In that matter, former Justice Douglas voluntarily recused himself because he had presided over Randolph's trial, and Chief Justice Gibbons and former Justice Cherry recused themselves because, when they were district court judges, they had written letters stating that the deputy district attorney who prosecuted Randolph had always been professional in his interactions with them, and those letters were submitted to this court as part of the prosecutor's response to an order to show cause that had been entered in Randolph's direct appeal. The remaining four justices on the court at that time (Justices Pickering, Hardesty, Parraguirre, and Saitta) decided Randolph's second postconviction appeal, affirming the district court's judgment. Randolph v. State, Docket No. 57959 (Order of Affirmance, Jan. 24, 2014). The misconduct at issue here involves statements that Colin included in several pleadings filed in the Randolph matter after the court entered its disposition.

         Colin's statements in the Randolph matter

         In a petition for rehearing and a motion to disqualify the four justices who signed the Randolph disposition, Colin made a number of unsupported and outrageous remarks about the court and the justices, many of which were unrelated to the matter on which he sought rehearing. Those statements included, but are not limited to, the following:

[The Court had] the audacity to affirmatively "alter" the appellate record to conform to the Court's dishonest actions and claims.
[T]he Court took its dishonesty to an unprecedented new level, and... the Court affirmatively fabricated a lie, blatantly contrary to the record.... Indeed, the Court's own Order proves that the Court is drunk with power, acting like a lawless bully, just lying and cheating to accomplish its evil objective to see Randolph dead.
[T]he four Justices ... are vindictive, dishonest, and totally biased.... They have concocted false and unsupportable legal theories ... and appear to be willing to do anything to achieve their evil aims.
The Justices are dishonest, and that dishonesty is apparent from the record in this case, and also from their active participation in a lengthy and ongoing unconstitutional judicial scheme and conspiracy to circumvent the Nevada Constitution, steal money from the Nevada taxpayers, and put $30,000 unconstitutional dollars a year into their own, and/or their judicial friend's pockets.
[T]he Justices are engaged in an ongoing conspiracy to circumvent the Nevada Constitution through bogus "service" on a bogus "Law Library Commission."

         Colin's motion to disqualify the four justices was denied as untimely in an order signed by Chief Justice Gibbons on March 25, 2014.

         Colin filed a motion to strike the March 25 order and filed another motion to disqualify the four justices and to re-disqualify Chief Justice Gibbons and former Justices Cherry and Douglas, in which he alleged that none of the seven justices could be fair and impartial. In that motion, he made the following statements:

This Nevada Supreme Court has no respect for the Nevada Constitution, or the law of the United States of America. The Court's despicable and blatantly lawless actions have repeatedly proven this sad truth.
[F]airness and honesty are anathema [sic] to this Court, which seeks only to use its brute power to make up lies, get paid, and wrongly blame others for its evil ...

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