Nevada Legislature: Assembly bill deals with those who represent themselves |

Nevada Legislature: Assembly bill deals with those who represent themselves

Nevada Appeal Capitol Bureau

Assembly approves charging people acting as own lawyers for misconduct

The Assembly on Wednesday approved AB110, which allows judges to charge people for misconduct while acting as their own attorney in civil court cases.

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, said the bill lets a judge determine whether a litigant is being “vexatious” and trying to delay or frustrate the legal process. He said those people should be charged for reasonable expenses and fees incurred because of their actions in a civil action.

The bill mirrors the requirements imposed on a lawyer appearing in a case if the lawyer pursued a civil action not warranted by the facts or law, imposing those same requirements on parties who aren’t represented by counsel.

But several lawmakers objected including James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, who said he was extremely concerned about holding regular people to the same standards as members of the bar.

“Constituents who cannot afford to be represented by counsel, have no choice but to represent themselves,” he said.

But unlike attorneys who he said are trained and required to know the rules, these citizens may not.

He said requiring fees and expenses takes away judicial discretion.

Nelson Araujo, D-Las Vegas, said the bill “hurts constituents who may not be able to afford an attorney.”

But Assemblyman Erven Nelson, R-Las Vegas, said judges will still have the discretion over whether to declare a pro-se litigant “vexatious.” He said his experience in more than 30 years of legal practice is judges “bend over backwards” to help people acting as their own lawyers.

AB110 passed the Assembly on a 24-17 party line vote with Republican Michele Fiore absent.

The bill goes to the Senate for consideration.