Ex-cop who sparked justice of peace probe denounces outcome | NevadaAppeal.com

Ex-cop who sparked justice of peace probe denounces outcome

Marlene Garcia
Nevada Appeal News Service

A former member of North Central Narcotics Task Force who first contacted the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission about ethical violations linked to Justice of the Peace Dan Ward said Friday he is disappointed by the discipline imposed upon Ward.

Norman “Buckey” Walters said he tape-recorded a confidential informant who reported that Ward told her in 2003 not to work with the task force because as a judge, he was her friend and could help her more than could law enforcement.

Walters said the conversation happened at the Churchill County Fairgrounds, where the informant told Ward his son was the first person to “shoot her up” with drugs.

“I sat on it for a month and a half. In the meantime, I had been recruited at a college in Georgia, but Ward did not know that,” Walters said. “When I got to Georgia, I decided to file a complaint with the judicial commission. That’s what started the whole investigation. When they started looking into it, it just mushroomed, and people started talking.”

Ward was suspended without pay for 30 days, and last week was ordered to take ethics courses by the state judicial commission. He admitted to 12 of 15 charges filed against him at a hearing in Carson City.

The incident Walters brought to the state judicial commission’s attention was included in a 25-page formal statement of charges the judicial commission served on Ward in August. He did not admit to that allegation in a settlement agreement with the commission.

Ward did admit he fixed tickets for friends and co-workers, interfered in the sexual assault case of a longtime acquaintance, used his influence to get his son out of jail without posting bond, and presided over cases with which he had a conflict of interest.

Clerks at Churchill County Justice Court said Friday Ward would not be in that day or all of next week. A male who answered the telephone at Ward’s home said he was at work. The judge did not respond to either call. Instead, he told a clerk to refer inquiries to his Reno attorney, Scott Freeman.

Walters believes Ward was treated too lightly by the judicial commission. He is now a criminal justice assistant professor/coordinator at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo.

“It’s really a shame. The justice of the peace is really the people’s judge, and he’s violated the people’s trust,” Walters said.

“You’re looking at a guy who got himself elected and has been serving his own needs. …The commission just spanked his pinky.”

— Reporter Marlene Garcia can be contacted at mgarcia@lahontanvalleynews.com.