Clark County School District Serves MGM Kool-Aid to Students

Perhaps you saw the picture in the Las Vegas Review-Journal of Clark County School students admiring the occupants of the Mirage Dolphin Habitat.  Last week Congresswoman Dina Titus honored the Habitat and the fifth-grade class from Thiriot Elementary School for “educating the community about conservation.” That’s a quote from an MGM Resorts International ad below, which appeared in Jon Ralston’s Morning Flash.

A MESSAGE FROM MGM RESORTS INTERNATIONAL: Congresswoman Dina Titus last week presented The Mirage Dolphin Habitat and fifth-grade classes from Thiriot Elementary School with certificates of special congressional commendation for their joint effort in educating the community about conservation. Students from the school created artwork, essays and poems for World Wildlife Day and Endangered Species Day, which are on display in the Habitat’s underwater viewing area.

I don’t doubt the fifth-graders’ commitment to conservation for a moment.  But what does the Mirage Dolphin Habitat have to do with protecting wildlife and endangered species? Nothing!

The dolphins on display at the Mirage are not endangered or threatened.  More than 500 orcas (killer whales,) dolphins and other members of the dolphin family are held in captivity in the U.S., in marine parks that hide behind claims of protecting the species through research and breeding programs.

Americans are outraged when marine exhibits pluck wildlife out of the oceans, but appear sanguine to captive breeding.  Just look at the damage control ad from Sea World in which a worker boasts the company hasn’t plundered from the wild in decades.  Is it less egregious to deprive an animal of a habitat they’ve never known?  What they don’t know won’t hurt them??

That is the attitude we appear to have adopted.  It’s OK to confine a dolphin or whale to a bathtub for life as long as they never know what it’s like to swim the sea.

Captive breeding, be it of orcas at Sea World, dolphins at the Mirage or lions at the Secret Garden, is a cruel and costly vicious cycle, where babies are born to generate revenue while young and adorable, only to be relegated to an unnatural life in captivity, where their survival depends on the constant births of more babies to generate more business to feed the cycle.

Just look at the Lion Habitat Ranch (The Cat House), the “sanctuary” for the MGM Grand’s former lion mascots, which  thrives on babies to attract visitors.  It’s now been ordered by the county to halt the breeding, leaving the zoo without future cubs to draw customers.

The owner, Keith Evans, says he’s committed to providing a home for the caged cats on his property.  But what’s to stop Evans, or whoever gets the lions who outlive him, from selling them on the surplus animal market.. where they could end up in deplorable canned hunts?

As for the claims that captive animals are a source of valuable research – the research conducted at the Mirage habitat is focused on dolphins in captivity and appears to have little benefit to wild populations, as is often the case.  Why?  Because experts say captive mammals living in sterile enclosures are deprived of their natural hierarchy, activity and interaction.  They are also prone to behaviors not seen in the wild.  Captive research has taught us that marine mammals are more intelligent than we thought, which makes their captivity even more heartbreaking.

The Clark County School District should encourage students to view animals in natural habitats, performing real behaviors, not tricks.  Caging animals for our entertainment (or education) is cruel.

Gambler Obstructed Liston Death Investigation

1891180_10152026008283212_583515283_n Monday, May 25 marks the 50th anniversary of the Lewiston, Maine heavyweight rematch between Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali that ended with the famed “phantom punch” and fueled even more speculation the fix was in more than a year earlier in Miami when Liston lost his title to then-Cassius Clay.

Someone will write an anniversary piece suggesting that Liston conspired with my father, Ash Resnick, to throw the fights.  And sports columnists will note that Liston died a suspicious death, discovered by his wife Geraldine in his Las Vegas home with a needle and heroin nearby.

Books have been written about Sonny’s life and death. HBO and Sports Illustrated collaborated on a documentary (check out the adorable five year-old at 20:15 in)  which maligned my father and his friendship with Sonny.  I first learned of the production from Lem Banker, a Las Vegas gambler who came to Las Vegas back in the 50s with my father from New York.  While HBO interviewed Banker, his contribution ended up on the editing room floor.

I don’t know what Banker told HBO, but I do know he’s told others (including me) that it was Mildred Stevenson, a housekeeper who worked for the Bankers and the Listons, who discovered Sonny’s lifeless body.

Banker told me Stevenson called and said she’d found Liston dead.  Banker told her to leave.  Neither called the police, but rather left Liston’s rotting corpse to be discovered by his wife and young son.

Why?  And why didn’t Banker, now 88, reveal his involvement earlier?  I  asked him but he had no good answer.

Amazingly, he did admit to further attempting to obstruct the investigation of Sonny’s death.  Banker says he eventually called the Clark County Coroner and asked that he protect Sonny’s image by not attributing his death to a drug overdose.  Coroner Otto Ravenholt publicly disclosed the presence of  a small amount of heroin in Liston’s system but not enough to kill him.  The official report noted cardiac arrest.

I’m not a cop but it appears the presence of the housekeeper in Liston’s home before the “official” discovery of his body by Geraldine as well as Banker’s involvement render the investigations of Sonny’s death as well as the tomes written about it worthless, while adding only more mystery.

Win or Lose, Lowden to Leave Medical Board

Republican hopeful for Lt. Governor Sue Lowden says she’ll step down from the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners regardless of the outcome of the primary election next month.  Lowden says serving on the board is a tough job that causes her much anguish and she predicts tough times ahead as regulators tackle the role of physicians in medical marijuana.  

But Lowden is pleased Governor Brian Sandoval, who supports her primary opponent Mark Hutchison, sent a nice letter inviting her to return.  Lowden says she’s told the governor and her board colleagues that June will be her final meeting.  


MMJ Conflicts Extend to Regulators, Threaten Budding Industry

Is anyone else wondering how Nevada Gaming Commission members can keep a straight face while discussing the perils of licensees’ being associated with Nevada’s blossoming medical marijuana industry?

The commission voted (barely) last week to endorse the Control Board’s earlier edict that grass and green felt don’t mix.  

Here’s a line from Howard Stutz’ report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal: 

Thursday’s vote affirming that notice was 2-0 — three of the five commission members, all lawyers, recused themselves because members of their law firms represent clients with medical marijuana interests.

Commission Chairman Pete Bernhard is in business with Kaempfer Crowell, a firm working feverishly to deliver medical marijuana establishment licenses for its clients.  Same story for Joe Brown of Fennemore Craig Jones Vargas.

But the best conflict on the commission belongs to John Moran.  

His son and law firm colleague, JT Moran, represents a group applying for three licenses. Until last week the disclosed owners of the proposed establishments included Barry Moore, who is married to Jane Tobman Moore. Her sister Marilyn is the wife of gaming commissioner John Moran and the mom of young JT, the attorney representing Moore and the hopeful pot peddlers.  

But Barry Moore owns a bar with slot machines.  He’d have to give that up to get in the medical weed biz.  Now, documents I received from the county on Friday reveal Barry is no longer listed as an owner of GB Sciences, but his wife is!   

I’m no attorney but even I could figure out that slight degree of separation probably wouldn’t fly with gaming regulators, a hunch confirmed by Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett, who said:

I do not feel that would be enough separation.  If the Feds indicted the medical marijuana business, the husband might be implicated because of financial commingling between spouses, possible involvement or control entanglements between the two, or outright conspiracy to violate federal law.     

Now, you’d think John Moran could have saved his son the trouble on this one.  Or was young JT intending to keep dad in the dark about Aunt Janie’s proposed involvement?  

And what degree of separation will gaming regulators determine is suitable?  

Governor Brian Sandoval, who signed the medical marijuana establishment bill into law, supports the cautionary tone from gaming regulators.

Attorneys, officers of the court sworn to uphold the law, are so far getting a green light from the Nevada Bar to take part.

And in early June the state medical board, which regulates doctors, will take up issues involving that profession – from ethics to ownership.

Prohibiting doctors would really thin the herd of hopeful applicants… unless Clark County once again extends the “deadline” for ownership changes!  And it would reinforce the perception that there’s really nothing “medical” about marijuana in Nevada.

Medical marijuana is legal in Nevada.  Voters decided and the Legislature acted.  The feds will come around.  They have no choice.

In the meantime, here’s my advice for our betting state –  All in or fold.  


Legal Eagles on Med Pot Advisory Commission

Link below to who’s on the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice’s Subcommittee on the Medical Use of Marijuana. 

No meetings set, no agenda yet.  May I suggest the first order of business – fix Nevada’s horrible law that can land innocent people in prison for trace amounts of a drug that stays in the system for days. Attorney John Watkins (also a judicial candidate) is on the commission and knows the issue better than anyone.  Also on the commission, attorney and friend Kristina Wildeveld.

Bar Counsel Wants Retraction, Sends Divorce Decree

Bar Counsel David Clark sent me a copy of divorce decree from almost seven years ago.  Apologies for linking him to ex-wife who is assistant to Jay Brown.  I stand by the comments attributed to Clark.  


 I have seen your blog post and second post regarding our conversation and my “failure to disclose.” 

 I am requesting a retraction of your post on all media and all outlets in which you published the original post and second posting

 First, attached is a copy of my divorce decree, showing that I was divorced from Diana Clark almost 7 years ago.

 Second, I declined to offer you an opinion on the facts you proffered – repeatedly declined.  I do not offer ethics opinions on news articles, only grievances and requests for opinions from attorneys or the court.

 Third, I disagree with your characterization that the “Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit[…] lawyers from going into business with clients.”  I certainly said no such thing.

RPC 1.8 prohibits such transactions unless the requirements of RPC 1.8(a)(1-3) are met.  I mentioned this to you in our conversation.  As to RPC 1.8(i), the prohibition is to “cause of action or subject matter of litigation.”  Again, as I mentioned to you in our conversation, I have not seen “cause of action” ever applied to a non-litigation representation.


Please respond to my request for a retraction.


David A. Clark
Bar Counsel
State Bar of Nevada
600 East Charleston Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV  89104
(702) 317-1444 – direct
(800) 254-2797
(702) 382-8747 – fax


Nevada Bar Counsel Fails to Disclose Conflict

This morning I called David Clark, the counsel for the Nevada Bar, to see if he had any concerns about Las Vegas attorney Jay Brown’s profit sharing agreement with his clients seeking medical marijuana licenses.  Jon Ralston revealed yesterday that Brown filed disclosures with Clark County, noting he will get 9% of profits from his successful applicants. 

Clark seemed less than concerned, dismissing the two seminal provisions of the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct prohibiting attorneys from going into business with clients.  Clark noted that rule 1.8 (a) allows clients to waive conflicts declared by their attorneys (which Brown’s client did) and noted that at first glance rule 1.8 (i), which prohibits attorneys from having a proprietary interest in their client’s case, appears to apply to litigation.

What Clark failed to mention is the fact his wife, Diana, is a longtime assistant to Jay Brown.  Is there a rule prohibiting such omissions?    



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