Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Nevada Supreme Court Stays Out of Dispute Over Judge's Recusal For Religious Ties

On Nov. 8, the Nevada Supreme Court denied a Petition for Writ of Mandamus or Prohibition in Health Plan of Nevada v. District Court (Lynam).  As reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, in the case the Health Plan of Nevada was attempting to get the court to order trial court judge Douglas Smith back on a case in which Smith had recused himself.  In the case in which plaintiffs are suing over contracting hepatitis C from a doctor covered by the Health Plan HMO, the judge stepped out after plaintiffs claimed that the attorney representing the HMO held a position of authority over the judge in the Mormon Church.  The attorney,  Mark Hutchison (a state senator and candidate for lieutenant governor) was one of two counselors to the president of Red Rock Stake (one of the 38 districts into which the Mormon Church in Nevada is divided). The judge served as a counselor to the bishop of one of the congregations in Red Rock Stake. Health Plan argued that Hutchison had no direct authority over Judge Smith in the Church, and in any event Hutchison has now withdrawn from representing Health Plan so the conflict is eliminated.