Las Vegas Judge Admits Ethics Violation Over Hot Tub Photo with Public Defenders and Social Media Posts

Las Vegas Judge Admits Ethics Violation Over Hot Tub Photo with Public Defenders and Social Media Posts

Clark County District Court Judge Erika Ballou, 52, has been publicly censured and mandated to take a judicial ethics course after admitting to violating ethical guidelines.

This decision followed an investigation by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline into a series of controversial social media posts, including a photograph of herself in a hot tub with two public defenders.

The Controversial Hot Tub Photo

The incident that sparked the investigation was a Facebook post by Judge Ballou showing her in a hot tub with public defenders Shana Brouwers and Robson Hauser.

The caption accompanying the image referred to one of the individuals as being “surrounded by great t*ts.”

The photo, which depicted Ballou in a bathing suit and Hauser shirtless, raised immediate concerns about judicial propriety and the maintenance of public confidence in the judiciary.

Additional Social Media Missteps

In addition to the hot tub photo, Ballou faced criticism for a second post where she lamented having to work the next day after attending a Billie Eilish concert.

The post read: “Life is STILL beautiful, despite the fact that Billie Eilish doesn’t start for 30 minutes and I have an 8:30 calendar tomorrow,” followed by the hashtag #Vacatethe[Expletive]OuttaOutofCustodyCases.

This hashtag suggested that cases involving defendants not in custody should be dismissed, which further questioned her professionalism and impartiality.

Admittance and Censure

Ballou admitted to violating ethical rules that require judges to uphold public confidence and avoid impropriety. She acknowledged that her social media activity was inappropriate and agreed to the censure.

The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline decided not to pursue further action regarding another complaint involving lyrics from a Cardi B song that Ballou posted in response to the initial complaints about her conduct.

Comments on Law Enforcement

In addition to her social media activity, Judge Ballou also faced scrutiny for comments she made during a court hearing in July 2022 regarding police officers.

During the hearing, she addressed a defendant, saying: “You’re a Black man in America.

You know you don’t want to be nowhere where cops are. I know I don’t, and I’m a middle-aged, middle-class Black woman. I don’t want to be around where the cops are because I don’t know if I’m going to walk away alive or not.”

Reaction and Repercussions

These comments led to calls for her resignation from the Las Vegas Police Protective Association.

District Attorney Steve Wolfson supported the censure and argued that Ballou should be recused from overseeing criminal cases involving police.

However, a judge recently denied Wolfson’s petition, stating that only the chief judge has the authority to recuse Ballou. Wolfson has since filed a new petition in another case presided over by Ballou.

Background and Professional Journey

Judge Ballou, who earns over $155,000 annually with total compensation nearing $262,000, was elected to the bench in November 2020 and began her term in January 2021.

Prior to her judgeship, she served as a Deputy Public Defender for 15 years and was actively involved in social justice as a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Her commitment to social causes previously landed her in controversy when she refused to remove a ‘Black Lives Matter’ pin in court in 2016.

Conclusion: A Lesson in Judicial Conduct

The public censure and requirement to complete a judicial ethics course underscore the importance of maintaining professional boundaries and the integrity of the judiciary.

Judge Ballou’s case serves as a reminder of the high ethical standards expected of those who hold judicial office and the potential consequences of failing to adhere to these standards.

World News

TDPel Media

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