Las Vegas judge posed in hot tub with public defenders, faces ethics charges

Las Vegas judge posed in hot tub with public defenders, faces ethics charges

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas judge is accused of ethics violations. The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline filed a formal statement of charges against Clark County District Court Judge Erika Ballou on Wednesday.

Two charges Ballou faces center around social media posts, one in which she appeared to state that cases in which defendants are not in custody should be tossed out and another in which she posed with two individuals from the Clark County Public Defender’s office in a hot tub and referred to “tits.”

In the formal statement of charges, the commission referred to Ballou’s Instagram post from Sept. 19, 2021. Her caption on the selfie 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.”

Ballou also posted the hashtags, “Vacatethe[Explitive]OuttaOutofCustodyCases” and “WhereInTheWorldisCarmenSanDiego.”

In reference to the first count Ballou faces due to the Instagram post, the commission alleged that Ballou violated three rules requiring a judge to promote public confidence and avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety, to put duties of the judicial office before their personal and extrajudicial activities, and to show that they can remain impartial.

The formal statement of charges also referred to a Facebook post from April 2022.

“Judge Ballou posted a photograph of her Facebook page of herself in a hot tub with two public defenders, Shana Brouwers and Robson Hauser, with the caption, ‘Robson is surrounded by great tits,’” according to the formal statement of charges.

In a second count, the commission alleged that the Facebook post demonstrates that Ballou again violated three rules requiring a judge to promote public confidence and avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety, to show that they cannot be influenced, and to not participate in activities that would appear to undermine the judge’s independence, integrity or impartiality.

It appears a public hearing for Ballou’s ethics case has not yet been set.

Ballou was sworn in as a judge in January of 2021 and has previously faced criticism.

In July of 2022, the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, the union representing Metro police officers, called for Ballou’s resignation as well as an ethics investigation after she made comments about police officers.

“You’re the one making the decisions not to walk away from cops. You’re a Black man in America.  You know you don’t want to be nowhere where cops are,” Ballou said. “You know you don’t want to be nowhere where cops are cause 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.”

The Clark County District Attorney’s Office was seeking the revocation of the probation of the defendant who Ballou was addressing.  While on probation for a previous case, the defendant was accused of committing battery against an officer.

Before becoming a judge, Ballou was a public defender and social justice organizer. She was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, which supported her run for judge. 

In 2016, Judge Ballou refused to remove a Black Lives Matter pin after a judge ordered her to.  This made national headlines.

The 8 News Now Investigators reached out to Ballou for a response Friday afternoon about the ethics charges and have not yet received a response.

8 News Now also reached out to the Clark County public defender’s office Friday afternoon regarding the two public defenders, Shana Brouwers and Robson Hauser, identified in the hot tub photo. A response was not yet received.



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