Tom Grover

Civil Litigation Attorney ** Las Vegas, Nevada

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Thoughts on the Review-Journal’s decision to disable comments

January 23rd, 2015 · Uncategorized

You may have noticed this morning that the Review Journal has disabled comments on news articles. Currently, each article in the RJ is appended with this notice:

Due to an increase in uncivil behavior and dialogue the Review-Journal has temporarily disabled the comment boards. The Review-Journal will use the time to evaluate the effectiveness of the comment boards and find an appropriate time to reintroduce them to reviewjournal.com.

A more detailed explanation can be read here.

That reads as though the RJ has put the Vegas Valley in time out for bad behavior, and maybe the valley, or at least some in the valley, deserve it. I admit that though I read the RJ every morning, I haven’t read the comments section in a while, so I have no idea whether there was an actual increase in uncivil behavior recently, though, to be honest, it’s hard to see how the comments could have become more uncivil than they have traditionally been.

The RJ is not the first news outlet to struggle with how to handle comments, nor will it be the last. That said, I have mixed feelings about the RJ’s decision.

I sympathize with the RJ as to the burden that these comments place on their resources. Any effort to create and enforce boundaries through a comments policy inevitably drains the very limited resources of the newspaper.

From the RJ’s more detailed explanation:

The reality is that there are simply not enough resources to effectively moderate every story on our site, especially when high-profile stories can rack up hundreds of comments over the course of a few minutes, many that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. We are not unique in this. In an age of ever-leaner newsrooms, not many are in a situation to pull from elsewhere to keep hate-mongers at bay.

Though the RJ doesn’t reference it, I am sure that over the years they have also received numerous “preservation letters” as to potentially defamatory comments. A preservation letter is a demand by someone, usually the person who has been allegedly defamed, that a third party, such as the RJ, preserve certain electronic evidence such as the IP address, email address or other data about the anonymous commenter who engaged in allegedly defamatory conduct. Though the RJ itself is shielded from liability from the defamatory comments of anonymous users by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, there could potentially be liability for the RJ if they failed to preserve evidence upon receipt of a letter. And then there’s the not insignificant administrative cost and burden of dealing with preservation letters.

That said, I do see value in the comments section of the RJ as much of a cesspool as it may be at times. I recall last year that RJ columnist Steve Sebelius commented on twitter that while the overwhelming majority of comments have little to no substantive value or insight, there are a smattering of smart takes that appear. I tend to agree with this. And even the comments which are bigoted, racist and hateful serve a limited purpose as they remind us of the harsh reality that such ignorant darkness exists right here in our own valley. That dark reality would exist whether or not revealed by the comments section in the RJ. We are better off as a community knowing that it exists.

Additionally, sometimes the subjects of a news article will appear in the comments section to engage the public, at times promoting their cause, at other times setting the record straight as they see it. This can act as a check on the RJ, as well as give people in the news the opportunity to speak directly to the public. This is especially valuable where the person in the article is a lay person without a bully pulpit.

Of course, comments on the RJ have been anonymous, which is both a blessing and a curse. Anonymity removes the social consequences of airing a particular point of view which both liberates otherwise marginalized voices to speak freely but also allows bullies to romp unbounded by social norms and decency.

I hope the RJ finds a way to make comments work on their website, though I sympathize with the many problems and burdens the comments bring.

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Las Vegas in 1971: Drunk Frank Sinatra Tossed From Caesars Palace At Gunpoint

January 12th, 2015 · Uncategorized

From The Spartanburg Herald-Journal, September 8, 1970:
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Apparently, The Chairman of the Board and Caesars Palace patched things up because, according to this write up in the Review-Journal, Sinatra was back performing at Caesars by 1974.

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Mortality

January 7th, 2015 · Uncategorized

Last night I left work late, about 10 PM. I was sitting at a stop light on westbound West Sahara at Town Center. I was in the far right lane, the middle lane was empty and the far left lane also had a car. Suddenly, an SUV blew past me in the middle lane, running the red light. It honestly had to be going 120 MPH or more, I’ve never ever seen a car drive that fast on surface streets. It was so fast that my car was rocked by the air displaced as s/he whizzed by. It was stunning, I am still kind of shaken up by it to be honest. I then held my breath as I watched it blow through three more red lights. Fortunately, it was late enough that traffic was light, otherwise an accident would have meant certain death for some innocent person and/or family. All of this is to say that it was a jarring, unexpected reminder of mortality. I am not guaranteed a tomorrow and neither are you.

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Go Big Red! Beat USC!

December 27th, 2014 · Uncategorized

2014 Holiday Bowl
NEBRASKA vs. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Saturday, December 27, 5:00 PM on ESPN
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California

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Las Vegas in 1948: Santa Arrives

December 22nd, 2014 · Uncategorized

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From the Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Tuesday, November 30, 1948.

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In Nevada, Minute Orders are not part of the record and have no binding authority

December 16th, 2014 · Uncategorized

Right now, I’m responding to an Objection to a Report and Recommendation of the Discovery Commissioner.  Previously, I brought a motion for sanctions against the opposing party for not responding to discovery, including the fatal error of not responding to Requests for Admissions.  The Discovery Commissioner ruled in my favor, deemed the admissions admitted and granted a negative inference as to the Requests for Production of Documents and Interrogatories.    Basically, the case is now over as long as the Report and Recommendation is adopted by the Judge.

The opposing party’s Objection does not cite to the Report and Recommendation itself, or to a transcript of the hearing. Instead, the Objection relies entirely on the informal court minutes, kept by the clerk (also known as the clerk’s minute order).

Unfortunately for the opposing party, the Nevada Supreme Court has been clear that court minutes are not a part of the record and have no authority.  “The district court’s oral pronouncement from the bench, the clerk’s minute order, and even an unfiled written order are ineffective for any purpose and cannot be appealed.” Rust v. Clark County School Dist., 747 P. 2d 1380, 1382 (Nev. 1987). Emphasis added.

There are times where referencing the clerk’s minute order can be helpful and appropriate in motion work, but relying on the clerk’s minute order as the record is inappropriate.

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In Nevada, parties must participate in good faith in Arbitration in order to preserve their right to a trial de novo

December 15th, 2014 · Uncategorized

Nevada Arbitration Rule 22 requires that a party participate in the arbitration in “good faith” in order to preserve their right to a trial de novo: ” The failure of a party or an attorney to either prosecute or defend a case in good faith during the arbitration proceedings shall constitute a waiver of the right to a trial de novo.”

“… a federal court dealing with the issue of good faith participation in arbitration equated ‘good faith’ with ‘meaningful participation,’ and determined that if the parties did not participate in a meaningful manner, the purposes of mandatory arbitration would be compromised.” Casino Props., Inc. v. Andrews, 112 Nev. 132, 135 (Nev. 1996) quoting Gilling v. Eastern Airlines, Inc., 680 F. Supp. 169 (D. N.J. 1988).

In Casino Props, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that the district court was correct in granting a Plaintiff’s Motion to Strike Request for trial de novo where the Defendant failed to defend the arbitration in good faith the Defendant failed to respond to discovery or defend in good faith. The underlying case in Casino Props involved security for the now-defunct Hacienda Hotel & Casino barging into a hotel room to demand payment from a guest whose credit card limit did not allow for the charges. The bill was eventually paid, however, the guests brought a claim against the hotel-casino and security for intrusion upon privacy and negligent infliction of emotional distress, among other claims. The Nevada Supreme Court found that the Defendant was not entitled to a trial de novo because it submitted it’s pre-arbitration statement the day before the arbitration and failed to respond to discovery.

Appellant impeded the arbitration proceedings by repeatedly failing to provide respondents with information in appellants’ security and employment manuals regarding lock-out procedures. The information was requested on March 18, 1993, and only on August 2, 1993, ten days before the arbitration hearing, did appellants inform respondents that such information on lock-out procedures did not exist in written form. Appellants had various opportunities to inform respondents that such information did not exist but failed to do so until it was too late for respondents to act on such information. The late date of appellants’ disclosure amounted to a lack of meaningful participation because it compromised respondents’ ability to depose the proper parties and form an adequate arbitration strategy.

Casino Props at 135.

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Jack Entratter, 1913-1971, Las Vegas History

December 15th, 2014 · Uncategorized

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 8.29.13 PMLeft to Right: Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra & Jack Entratter. Source: FindAGrave.com

 

Lodi-News Sentintal, Friday, March 12, 1971, Page 11:

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Earlier in his life Entratter apparently fought against nudity in Las Vegas shows.  From the Ocala Star-Banner, Ocala, Florida, Thursday, September 4, 1958:

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In 1966, when Frank Sinatra married Mia Farrow, the marriage was held in Entratter’s apartment where Entratter gave away the bride.  From the Kentucky New Era, July 13, 1966:

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8 News NOW

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ESPN Video: Hockey’s Infrastructure In Las Vegas

December 14th, 2014 · Uncategorized

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ESPN Video: Hockey’s Infrastructure In Las Vegas

December 14th, 2014 · Uncategorized

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