Judicial Discipline Commission mulls charges against EnEarl
CARSON CITY — Special prosecutor Mary Boetsch argued Wednesday that East Fork Justice of the Peace James EnEarl stepped over the line, showing his bias and violating ethics standards in how he handled Michael Manoukian’s parole revocation two years ago.
EnEarl’s lawyer John Springate said the judge’s only real error was in holding the revocation hearing May 21, 2001, without Manoukian’s lawyer Mike Roeser present. Springate said tough sounding comments the judge made were an attempt to get the defendant to follow the rules and straighten out his life.
Whether EnEarl’s conduct violated Nevada’s conduct standards for judges is now up to the Commission on Judicial Discipline, which took the case under submission after two-hours of arguments. They are expected to rule within 20 days.
“Judge EnEarl was honestly and sincerely trying to help this young man,” said Springate, rejecting arguments the judge’s comments during the hearing show bias.
“There is no showing of bias,” he said. “There is no showing the judge has closed his mind to the evidence.”
Manoukian, 27, was a recovering drug addict on parole for writing bad checks when he failed to show up on time for two court appearances to explain why he failed to find and keep a job and make restitution for his bad checks.
He committed suicide five days after EnEarl revoked his parole and put him back in jail.
Boetsch cited transcripts of court hearings on May 18 and 21 in which EnEarl said Manoukian was “starting to offend me” and had “failed and refused to get a job.” EnEarl during the second hearing told Manoukian, “quite frankly, I’m getting fed up with you.”
When Manoukian told the judge he was sorry for being late, the judge responded, “Well, you’re not nearly as sorry as you’re about to be.”
When told that Manoukian’s father, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Noel Manoukian, had paid his restitution, EnEarl said the son “hasn’t paid a dime — he won’t do anything I’ve told him to.”
Boetsch said those comments show the judge was biased. But the big issue is holding the hearing without notice to Manoukian’s lawyer, which even Springate admitted was wrong.
“That’s not something you forget when you’re considering sending some one to jail for a year. He’d already made up his mind,” said Boetsch, arguing EnEarl allowed his personal frustration and anger to bias his treatment of Manoukian.
“I’m not here suggesting Judge EnEarl be removed from office, but he crossed the line,” she said asking for sanctions against EnEarl.
Springate admitted the judge was frustrated by Manoukian’s repeated failure to meet requirements and show improvement, but said the only actual error he made was not getting Manoukian’s lawyer to the hearing.