Assembly approves ban on fraudulent complaints against public officers
April 22, 2003
A bill reinstating penalties for filing fraudulent complaints against police and other public officials or employees was approved by the Senate on Monday.
The original legislation approved two years ago was tossed out by a federal district judge who said restrictions on complaints or critical statements couldn’t be applied solely to police.
Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, said SB342 is designed to cure that problem by applying the penalties to fraudulent complaints against all public officers.
Sen. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas, said he opposes the bill because it could create some serious problems. He said a candidate could be charged for making statements about an incumbent opponent who would be free to make the same comments about him, since the incumbent is a public official and the challenger isn’t.
“I just think you get into all kinds of trouble trying to regulate speech,” said Care.
Hardy said the law would only apply to fraudulent complaints and then only when some one “knowingly files a false complaint.”
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But Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, said the word “knowingly” doesn’t give him much comfort. Nevada Revised Statutes, he said, say that “if a complaint is false, you should have known it.”
They were two of the six Democrats who voted against SB342. The remaining 15 members of the Senate voted for it.
The bill goes to the Assembly.