Assemblyman wants answers about staff of attorney general

Fri, Feb 10, 2017 (12:55 p.m.)

CARSON CITY — The chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee wants to know why two top members of the staff of Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt are not admitted to practice law in Nevada.

Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, said taxpayers have a right to know why these high-placed officials can’t practice in Nevada.

During a committee meeting today, Yeager asked Chief of Staff Nicholas Trutanich if he had passed the Nevada bar examination to allow him to practice before the courts. Trutanich, who came from California, said he had received a two-year exemption allowed in the rules of the Nevada Supreme Court.

Yeager said that exemption had expired.

After the hearing, Yeager included Solicitor General Lawrence VanDyke as not licensed to practice law in Nevada.

Trutanich earns $140,662 and VanDyke, who came from Montana, is paid $132,600 a year.

Trutanich told Yeager he had practiced law in Los Angeles before moving to Nevada more than two years ago. VanDyke was an attorney in Montana before coming to Nevada in December 2014.

Yeager said, “I’m concerned they can’t practice law.”

In a later interview, he said he was worried if the taxpayers were paying salaries for two nonpracticing attorneys.

“I was not satisfied with his answer,” Yeager said, referring to Trutanich.

This is a case where the chief of staff and the solicitor general can’t appear in court, the chairman said.

The committee also asked Trutanich to supply information about how much the Attorney General’s Office has spent on hiring private attorneys to represent the state.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Brettt Kandt said the office hires outside attorneys only when there is a conflict of interest, when a specialist is needed, such as a lawyer for bond counsel, and when there is litigation in another state.

Yeager said specifically he wanted to know how much the Attorney General’s Office paid Paul Clement of Washington, D.C., to handle a suit in the school voucher case. Published reports show Clement, a former U.S. solicitor general, was paid $545,000 for representing the state in the District Court and the Nevada Supreme Court on the Educational Savings Account suit.

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