Supreme Court says Boulder City cannot sue citizens over ballot initiatives

Tue, Jan 28, 2014 (12:17 p.m.)

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Supreme Court on Monday ruled that six citizens who filed three ballot initiative petitions in 2010 cannot be sued by Boulder City, which challenged the validity of the issues.

The court ruled that the citizens are protected by law and sent the case back to District Court to determine how much Boulder City must pay for legal costs incurred by the petitioners.

They had gathered signatures to place on the 2010 ballot initiative petitions to require the City Council to get voter approval before going into debt of $1 million or more; limit the terms of members of city commissions and committees to 12 years; and limit the city to one municipal golf course.

The golf course initiative was defeated, but the other two passed.

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision authored by Chief Justice Mark Gibbons, said the citizens were protected from civil suits and liability under a law entitled Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation or SLAPP.

The city had filed three lawsuits against Daniel Jensen, Walt Rapp, Frank Fisher, Cynthia Harris, James Douglass and Nancy Nolette to challenge the legality of the initiative petitions.

The Supreme Court ruled that the city could have sued the secretary of state, who is the state’s chief election officer, to determine the validity of the initiatives, but not the citizens.

The Supreme Court said the suits should have been dismissed in District Court. It ordered the suits back to the District Court for dismissal and for the imposition of legal costs against the city.

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