Impeachment would break new ground in state

Nevada would be in uncharted territory if Controller Kathy Augustine faces impeachment.

Augustine has agreed to admit "willful" violations of the state code of ethics. If she does, the violations must be reported to the Legislature for lawmakers to consider removing her from office.

"There has never been an impeachment proceeding in the history of Nevada under Article 7," State Archivist Guy Rocha said Wednesday. "This is uncharted territory. There's no record of any state official, constitutional officer, confronted with impeachment."

Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Lorne Malkiewich said the bureau, which acts as the legal research arm for the Legislature, has begun figuring out how to proceed.

"It's not a situation we've had a lot of experience with," he said.

Rocha and Malkiewich agreed a number of issues would have to be decided if Augustine's case reaches that stage, including who would prosecute the case - the attorney general, LCB legal counsel or another advocate.

Malkiewich said one of the first issues would be whether the governor should call lawmakers into special session to try the case or wait until the regular 2005 Legislature begins in February.

Malkiewich said they will research all of those questions, including checking to see what other states have done.

But he said a good starting point might be Jefferson's Manual of Parliamentary Practice, written by Thomas Jefferson while vice president and adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives for handling impeachment cases.

"On one hand, we want make sure we're not caught flat-footed," he said. "But on other hand, nothing's happened yet."

Contact Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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