Fight eyed over separation of powers in government | NevadaAppeal.com

Fight eyed over separation of powers in government

The Nevada Policy Research Institute has served notice that it will appeal the dismissal of a case challenging whether an executive branch state worker also can serve in the Legislature.

The case was dismissed as moot by Carson District Judge Todd Russell after the target of the challenge, Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, resigned from the Public utilities Commission.

Joseph Becker, chief legal officer for the NPRI Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation, said he disagrees. He argued that there are several exceptions to the Mootness Doctrine, including public interest.

“It’s hard to imagine a case that better satisfies the public-interest exception to the Mootness Doctrine than this one,” he said.

The suit was based on Article 3, Section 1 of the Nevada Constitution, which says no person with power over policy and decisions in one of the three branches of government can exercise the powers in another branch.

Legislative legal experts argued initially that Denis, as an information technology employee, never wielded the kind of decision-making power that would create a violation of that article.

Becker said the question must be settled because there are “at least 14 conflicting attorney general’s opinions on this issue and no fewer than six current legislators who also hold jobs in the executive or judicial branches of state government.”

He said even Gov. Brian Sandoval, a former judge and attorney general, has called on the high court to settle the issue.