Las Vegas Sun

November 27, 2014

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Nevada Legislature 2013:

Media agencies seek access to report used for assemblyman’s expulsion

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Assemblyman Steven Brooks makes his introduction during a meeting of the Health and Human Services Committee before departing for the remainder of the meeting on the third day of the 2013 legislative session Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 in Carson City.

Fourteen Nevada news agencies, including the Sun, have filed a public records request seeking access to the report used as evidence to expel Assemblyman Steven Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, from the Nevada Legislature.

The Nevada Assembly today took the unprecedented step of voting to oust a duly elected lawmaker. Since the start of the year, Brooks has been arrested twice and involuntarily detained for a psychiatric evaluation. He’s also had a series of erratic outbursts.

But the report compiled by the Legislature’s special counsel, Mark Ferrario, on his investigation into whether Brooks is fit to continue serving has been kept confidential by lawmakers. The hearing by the select committee to determine Brooks’ fitness also was held behind closed doors.

Ferrario said the report had to remain confidential because it contained medical information, details from police agencies and statements from witnesses who had been promised confidentiality. He said it would be impossible to provide a redacted version.

In a public records request, media lawyer Don Campbell disputed the Legislature’s right to keep the entire report confidential, citing both case law and Nevada statutes.

“While we acknowledge that the Brooks report may contain information protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, we expect that you will only redact information expressly covered by HIPAA’s exclusionary provisions,” Campbell wrote.

Other news organizations participating in the request include the Nevada Press Association, VEGAS INC, The Associated Press, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Reno Gazette-Journal.

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