Attorney calls felony charge against Brooks excessive; hearing set for May 7
March 9, 2013
The lawyer representing an embattled state lawmaker facing a felony charge that he attacked a Las Vegas police officer and grabbed for his gun is calling the criminal case against his client “excessive.”Democratic Assemblyman Steven Brooks didn’t personally appear for a brief court hearing Friday, when Justice of the Peace Melanie Andress-Tobiasson scheduled a May 7 evidentiary hearing on felony resisting a police officer with a weapon and three lesser charges stemming from the Feb. 10 incident.Defense attorney Mitchell Posin, who has said Brooks will plead not guilty and fight the charges, said outside court that prosecutors are overreaching in the case.“It was just a domestic disturbance and they managed to get a felony out of it, which is a bit of an exaggeration,” Posin said. “To my eyes, it seems a little excessive for a domestic violence call.”Brooks, 41, was initially arrested on misdemeanor charges of domestic battery and obstructing a public officer. Brooks’ estranged wife, Ada, had called 911 from a neighbor’s house to report that Brooks showed up unexpectedly and verbally and physically attacked her in her home.Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson decided Monday to file the felony resisting an officer count, plus misdemeanor charges of assault on an officer, battery-domestic violence and obstructing a public officer.The felony carries a penalty of up to five years in state prison and a $10,000 fine. Convictions on the other charges could, combined, get Brooks up to two years in county jail.Wolfson said Monday that his decision to file a felony charge came after a careful review of all the evidence. He didn’t immediately respond to a message Friday.The hearing schedule means the case against Brooks won’t reach trial before the Legislature ends June 3.Nothing in state law or the state constitution would automatically disqualify Brooks from serving his elected position if he were convicted of a felony. But a convicted felon cannot run for office without having his or her civil rights restored.Separately, Brooks is asking the state Supreme Court to void an order by the state Assembly’s Democratic leader, William Horne, placing him on leave from the Legislature and banning him from the legislative building in Carson City as a potential “direct threat to others.”Brooks argues that his legislative colleagues don’t have the authority to strip him of his elected position representing his North Las Vegas constituents.The state high court has set an expedited schedule to decide the question, with the Legislature already in the second month of its four-month term.Horne chairs an Assembly committee that has hired an independent counsel to investigate Brooks’ conduct and present findings for a recommendation to the full 42-member Assembly. It would take a two-thirds majority, or 28 votes, to take the unprecedented step of ousting a colleague.Brooks’ troubles became public Jan. 19, a little more than two weeks before he was sworn in to a second term.North Las Vegas police arrested him in a car with a gun and dozens of rounds of ammunition following reports from other elected officials that Brooks threatened Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick. The state attorney general’s office is has not filed criminal charges in that case.Days later, Brooks was hospitalized for a psychiatric evaluation after Las Vegas police were called to a disturbance at Brooks’ grandmother’s house involving a sword.Then, Brooks was denied permission Feb. 21 to buy a rifle at a Sparks sporting goods store, after the Nevada Department of Public Safety reviewed forms he submitted for a background check.Both Kirkpatrick and Horne have obtained restraining orders against Brooks.