Pahrump Valley Times

Twitter pics prompt notice of violation in Hof lawsuit

In a continuation of the most recent lawsuit from brothel owner and Nevada Assembly District 36 candidate Dennis Hof, Nye County has filed a notice of violation in the case, citing allegedly illegally captured photographs taken by Hof.

On Monday, Aug. 27, U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware presided over a hearing in case 2:18-cv-01492-RFB-GWF. The hearing was regarding a lawsuit filed by Hof following the county’s decision to revoke his brothel and liquor licenses.

The judge ruled in favor of a temporary injunction to allow Hof to reopen his businesses. At the same hearing, Hof also snapped some images inside the courtroom, which is expressly prohibited, with signs notifying all entering the courtroom of the restriction. This became public knowledge when Hof decided to post the photos to Twitter following the hearing, prompting the county’s notice of violation.

According to United States District Court District of Nevada’s Local Rules of Practice LR IA 2-1 (b), “All wireless communication devices must be turned off while in any United States courtroom or hearing room in this district, unless the presiding judge authorizes otherwise. Wireless communication devices are electronic devices that are capable of either sending or receiving data such as sounds, text messages or images, including but not limited to mobile phones, laptop computers and tablets.”

This is the rule that the county’s notice of violation honed in on. “The Twitter posts contained two pictures… One was of a bench and the back of plaintiff’s counsel’s heads; the other picture was of commissioner Schinhofen and former planning director Darrell Lacy, who were in attendance. The Twitter posts contained language which plaintiff has an absolute First Amendment right to post to the entire world. Plaintiff does not have a right under LR IA 2-1 to take pictures inside the courtroom without permission of the court,” the notice detailed.

The county requested that the court, “…admonish plaintiff that he is not permitted to take pictures in the courthouse for any purpose absent permission…”

In the response filed by Hof’s legal team, his attorneys described the notice of violation an “unnecessary addition to the docket” but declined to speculate on why the county might have filed it.

Rather, the document claimed that Hof was not the only person in the room who was using a camera at the time and regardless, once the audience had been told they were not allowed to record anything inside the room, Hof ceased to do so.

“Mr. Hof, like other spectators in the courtroom, including at least one journalist, was using his camera prior to the hearing. Counsel was unaware of this… At some point the judge entered the room, the bailiff instructed all spectators that no photography was allowed in the building. At that point, it appears to have ended,” Hof’s response contended. “The two photographs are clearly from this time before the hearing and before the bailiff’s instruction. Nevertheless, counsel is completely capable of informing their clients of the fact that federal courts do not allow cameras…”

The lawsuit is still pending a final decision.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com