Louis “Eric” Johnson, a long time Deputy U.S. Attorney, was appointed in April 2015 to fill in for former Clark County District Court Judge Jerry Tao in Department 20 of Nevada’s State Court after Tao was promoted to the newly formed Nevada Court of Appeals.
But a review of Johnson’s application for the Department 20 position reveals that he may have never disclosed to the appointing committee that, according to the San Diego Tribune, he was twice investigated by the Justice Department for ethical violations.
A legal requirement of Johnson’s appointment is that Johnson must now run in this election, which he is doing, to retain his seat. Given that he is now asking the people of Nevada to trust him and keep him in his new job, Johnson should now ‘fess up’ about internal investigations to which he was subjected. This is particularly the case where they were significant enough to make the press. Johnson should provide proof to the people of Nevada of the investigative findings and results.
Here’s the background:
According to a 2004 San Diego Union Tribune article, Johnson was working on a public corruption case in which the star government informant accused Johnson of taking favors from a strip club that the informant owned. The Justice Department in Washington D.C. took Johnson off the case and launched an investigation into the allegations.
According to the article, Johnson retaliated and attacked the informant’s credibility. Johnson told reporters that the informant recanted his story. Not only did the Justice Department’s internal affairs lawyers disagree with that statement, but they then launched a second investigation into Johnson for publicly disparaging a star government witness on whose credibility they were relying to get convictions in the pending public corruption case! (See article U.S. attorney investigated in strip club case: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/uniontrib/20040721/news_1n21vegas.html)
Johnson claims in the article that the Justice Department ultimately sent him a letter concluding that he did nothing wrong. Yet, he refused to share that letter with reporters. So there was no verification or explanation of the findings of the investigation.
A review of Johnson’s application to fill in for Judge Tao shows that he mentioned this public corruption case as one of his top 5 most significant cases. He describes his role in the case as one in which “he was initially responsible for the investigation and coordinated over18 months of court authorized electronic surveillance. The case was significant to me because in appreciating the insidious nature of public corruption and need for integrity in our public servants.” Yet, he fails to mention that he was the subject of two internal investigations by the Justice Department in connection with that very case! Apparently, he has not in fact appreciated the “insidious nature of public corruption.”
Given the vital importance of the character of our judges on whom we rely to safeguard our most basic human rights, and in whom we trust to profoundly impact our families and the lives of our fellow citizens, Johnson should now fess up and fully disclose the written findings and results of those investigations.
Choose your judges carefully. Insist on the facts. Someday, your life may depend on it.