Court battle continues over videotaped arrests in Tahoe casino

CARSON CITY, Nev. - The Nevada Supreme Court called Monday for an explanation of lower court rulings that limited access to a Tahoe casino videotape of two women being arrested for rowdy behavior.

Both women are charged with misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor assault on security guards at Caesars Tahoe Resort, and the lawyer for one has said the restrictions impaired his ability to defend his client.

Attorney Michael Roeser also said proper legal procedure wasn't followed and the resulting restrictions suggest the lower court ''was more interested in protecting Caesars Tahoe'' than ensuring a fair trial.

Aneka Leth Routsis, represented by Roeser, and Stephanie Landauer were arrested Sept. 5. Their trial was delayed pending the Supreme Court's resolution of the videotape dispute.

Lawyers for Caesars have until mid-December to file a formal response to Roeser's petition for a Supreme Court order to correct ''improprieties'' in the case.

Roeser said the tape shows Landauer being pushed face-first into a wall - by accident, according to guards - and Routsis trying to help her friend and being thrown, kicking and screaming, to the ground by several security guards.

The two women had been dancing and drinking until well after midnight at Nero's, a Caesars nightclub. They were told to leave after they moved from the dance floor to ''go-go'' cages reserved for dancers who work in the club.

Roeser at one point had managed to get his own copy of the tape, but was told by Justice of the Peace James Mancuso of Incline Village to submit it as evidence.

Mancuso took over the case from Justice of the Peace Steve McMorris of Stateline, who issued a Sept. 15 order limiting the videotape access after holding a hearing on Caesars' request for restrictions - without advising the women or their legal counsel in advance.

Mancuso, in backing up McMorris at an Oct. 1 hearing, said he feared the tape might turn the case ''into some sort of circus-like O.J. spectacle.''

Lawyers for Caesars had argued that cuts of the tape could be used selectively to make the security guards look bad. The club also insisted pretrial access to the tape could be limited under federal copyright laws.

Roeser's petition says the lower courts improperly allowed Caesars to intervene. He says only the defense or the prosecutor can seek such pretrial restrictions - not a third party like Caesars.

Roeser also is protesting the lack of notice for the mid-September hearing conducted by McMorris that resulted in the protective order on the tape.


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