Update, July 14
Washoe County District Judge David Hardy on Wednesday ordered Washoe County Assessor Mike Clark to pay more than $22,000 in attorney fees and $10,000 in damages after filing a lawsuit against a county employee then failing to respond in the case.
Clark, who originally filed the complaint on May 31 representing himself, tried to file an extension on Wednesday. Clark alleged he’d had a verbal agreement with an attorney to represent him and blamed the attorney for the delay.
Judge Hardy did not approve the extension. Instead, he granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss.
Original Story from July 13
Embattled Washoe County Assessor Mike Clark could owe more than $32,000 in attorney fees and an anti-SLAPP penalty after filing a lawsuit against a county employee.
Clark sued the employee who filed a temporary protective order against him last year. He alleged she lied to the court during a hearing last year.
He represented himself and did not respond to the employee’s attorneys in the case. They have since asked for a judge to issue a decision due to Clark not responding.
“Plaintiff has failed to file any opposition and has not placed anything on file since the date of the Complaint,” attorney Adam Hosmer-Henner wrote this week in a court filing seeking an order by the court.
Hosmer-Henner is seeking more than $22,000 in attorney fees and under Nevada law, the defendant in an anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) case is entitled to $10,000.
The court could soon issue a decision ordering Clark to pay the fees.
Clark did not respond to requests for comment.
The employee was stunned when an image of her, along with a conspiratorial screed, was mailed to more than 160 people in April of last year.
Clark, who was identified on U.S. Postal Service security cameras attempting to anonymously mail the packets, put former City of Reno Manager Andrew Clinger’s return address label on the packages, which were sent to officials and the news media across the state.
A judge in a TPO (temporary protection order) case against Clark called Clark’s actions “more than reckless. They were intentional. The court finds any reasonable person would feel terrorized.”
He further said Clark’s behavior and the content of the packets, which alleged myriad shenanigans in local government, were “altogether creepy and disturbing.”
The attorney hired by the county said the mailings caused employees to feel harassed, a finding echoed in an additional investigation last year.
“Every single witness who provided relevant testimony described the feeling of being frightened, intimidated or harassed by the act of Mr. Clark in sending those packets… It is magnified by the fact that this person tried to hide his identity and do this anonymously,” the attorney argued in court.
Clark was banished from his own office complex for more than a year because of the TPO and the judge finding in the county’s favor.
“The issue was not whether Appellant was a victim of workplace harassment, but rather, whether his actions constituted ongoing workplace harassment against others. Furthermore, to the extent Appellant seeks to allege that he is the victim of workplace harassment, Appellant has other legal means to do so and seek remedy,” she wrote.
Mausert defended Clark by saying he was old and “made a mistake.” He added that Clark did not get a fair hearing in the TPO case, “but thank God for the voters.”
That statement is related to Clark besting incumbent Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey in the recent primary election, paving the way for Clark to become a commissioner in the November general election.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.