Choosing The Right Expert Witness

witness

One of the best experts I’ve ever selected happens to be one of my mentors. More on that in a moment.

First, it’s imperative to say that not all cases require experts. In fact, sometimes they are a detriment. Quite often the facts of a case are simple and easy to understand and an expert’s opinion is not needed or justified.  Retaining an expert is practically a part of all young insurance defense attorneys’ “how to” manual or outline. Experts are retained to consult and educate counsel and offer opinions that lay witnesses couldn’t otherwise give. I learned early on that many jurors do not embrace experts. To the contrary, many jurors feel that experts are paid guns used as leverage or ammunition by a financially stronger litigant. Jurors have become more aware that in an auto accident trial, the defendant is being defended by an attorney retained by an insurance company. Many jurors feel that the insurance company can afford the expert and the expert will say whatever the insurance company pays him or her to say. Consequently, many jurors are not persuaded by an expert who wasn’t at the scene of the accident and therefore has no personal knowledge of the facts giving rise to the collision and/or alleged injuries.

In non-auto related cases, jurors are equally skeptical of experts. An expert should only be retained after considerable thought is given to the advantages and disadvantages of such retention. Will the expert assist the trier of fact as required by NRS 50.245? If the expert will assist the trier of fact, the next step focuses on selecting the right expert. I have had very qualified experts do well and not so well. Each case is different. You must consider the particular facts of the case when choosing the expert.

In a non-auto case tried over several months, I had the pleasure of working with an outstanding first or second time expert. This gentleman was professional in demeanor and enthusiastic about the science. He was inexperienced in handling cross examination but his undeniable honesty made up for it. In fact, years after the case was resolved, the trial judge commented on how well my expert performed. The trial judge, a former accomplished trial lawyer, was not only impressed with the expert’s credentials but also with his understanding of the case and connection with the jurors. I wouldn’t mention the Judge’s comments if I didn’t value highly the opinions of Judge Williams as a Judge and former trial lawyer.

While the above experience was good, it isn’t the focus of this article. I helped educate and train the expert in the case just referenced. The next expert I would like to discuss not only assisted the trier of fact but also me. I retained J. Mitchell (“Mitch”) Cobeaga, Esq., as my expert in a bad faith insurance case. Mitch was one of my mentors at Beckley Singleton. He trained many of the better trial lawyers practicing in Southern Nevada. He defended insurance companies and their insureds for over 35 years. I knew that he would not only be knowledgeable with regards to coverage but I also knew that he could explain coverage to a jury.

The particulars of insurance coverage is exciting only to a few people. Empaneling a jury

interested enough to listen and smart enough to understand would be challenging. I didn’t need a professional type. I needed an expert who would make listening and understanding insurance coverage, policies and claims language interesting or at least tolerable. I knew Mitch was perfect for my case.

Opposing counsel tried to preclude Mitch. When unsuccessful, opposing counsel tried to limit Mitch’s testimony. Because of his credentials and with his understanding of the case, Mitch was qualified to testify. Mitch with his easy-going approach entertained the jury. Between and among anecdotes and stories, the jurors learned the case and insurance coverage. In fact, when some of my questions seemed to esoteric, he rephrased the questions in his response. He assisted me and the jury simultaneously. The result was better than my client ever expected. Mitch’s contribution to the case was invaluable. I only take credit for selecting him as the expert.

Again, not every case requires an expert. When you have decided that the law and/or facts require an expert (i.e. medical malpractice case) be thoughtful in selecting the appropriate expert. If your theory can’t be articulated through the personal knowledge of lay witnesses, then an expert’s assistance is likely necessary. After you have determined the type of expert needed and have chosen the level of credentials suited for the case, then you must next consider the personality of the experts. Your expert’s ability to relate your theme of the case to the jury is extremely important in convincing a jury that your expert’s telling the truth and not what he/she was paid to say.


Theodore “Teddy” Parker is a founding partner of Parker & Nelson Assoc. in Las Vegas, Nev., where he specializes in administrative law, banking law, business litigation, corporate law and structuring, construction contract and defect, employment and labor law, insurance defense, municipal law, medical malpractice, personal injury, premises liability, products liability, real estate law, and regulatory compliance. Learn more about him and his practice’s work at http://www.pnalaw. net.

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

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Partially Disabling Injuries

-By Stan V. Smith, PhD with Kyle Lauterhahn

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

Assessing the partial loss when an injured plaintiff can still continue to work in the future in “some reduced capacity” presents a complex challenge to plaintiff attorneys and to juries, a challenge that is often not well addressed in a litigation setting.  However, there are high-quality statistics produced by the United States Census Bureau that few expert economists, and even fewer lawyers, are aware of that can greatly aid in the analysis of lost earnings capacity. These government statistics allow an economist to provide an opinion to a jury regarding the partial loss of earnings capacity due to disability to a reasonable degree of economic certainty, obviating the need in many instances for a formal vocational analysis.

When an injured person returns to work, the rate of pay and the hours worked can be very misleading as they are frequently not indicative of the long-run impacts. Even if an injured person is back to work at the same job and the same rate of pay, with a disability, there are definite wage losses due to disability in the long-term future that are not readily evident and that should not be ignored. Fortunately, these Census Bureau statistics address and remedy the problem.

The partial loss of earning capacity can arise not only from physical injuries, it can also arise in a myriad of situations such as defamation that has a future career impact. The loss may arise if someone’s career in medical school, for example, is prematurely terminated by wrongful dismissal. An economist can measure such loss. This article focuses on ways to help juries understand the long-term impact on earning capacity loss due to a physical or mental impairment, such as difficulty standing, or difficulty concentrating, where government statistics provide a high-quality measure of the impact, both on employment probabilities and pay rates.  This long-term impact is typically not evident shortly after the injury.

EXAMPLES OF PARTIAL LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES

After an injury, an individual may have already returned to work full-time, but he or she may be earning less than prior to their injury due to impairment. For example, a realtor who has difficulty walking or has back pain may work full-time after the injury but accomplish less per hour.

They may show fewer homes in a given afternoon due to difficulty walking, driving, and going up and down stairs, and thus earn less in commissions.  In addition, they may also work fewer hours per week due to the disability, and earn even less per year than if they worked full-time.  Furthermore, the degenerative impact of the injury on hours and earnings may increase over time.

A construction worker may continue to work full-time with some pain. Even if the worker earns the same union wage per hour, he or she may work less overtime in the long run, and may be able to work only to age 53 for example, rather than perhaps age 62 or 65, or even later.  The work life capacity prior to the disabling injury is forever impacted.  Less overtime and fewer years of work in the future reduce the injured person’s earnings capacity.

An accountant may be forced to retire early, giving up the business that took decades to build. A call center worker may choose to work less overtime due to fatigue, and he or she may take frequent personal leave as a body pain may flare up from time to time. Pain can be very debilitating. A truck driver may find that upon their return to work, pain associated with long-haul driving may force them to also accept shorter, lower-paying routes, leading to a double penalty of reduction in earnings and time worked.

UNITED STATES CENSUS BUREAU DATA

These long-term, future impacts of impairments are all but impossible to assess after the injury without the high-quality statistics that are available to measure them.  Even if an individual has not yet returned to work, but is making medical progress and return to work is feasible, a jury will want to understand what the person can do in the future, and how their capacity may be reduced in the long run.

As shown in the examples above, the average person who has a disability due to injury also has a significantly reduced probability of employment, and perhaps a significantly reduced pay rate. This reduction in employment can mean fewer years worked in one’s career (i.e. retiring early) or fewer hours worked in each year (i.e. shorter work week, more time off, etc.). The reduction in pay rate can result from reduced hourly earnings, reduced overtime, or reduced opportunities for promotion and advancement, all of which lead to significant losses for an injured person.  The reduction in employment and the reduction in pay rate can operate independently of one another.

We know that these losses exist anecdotally, such as in the examples above, but there are also reliable statistical databases for these work and pay reductions due to disabling injuries.  The United States Census Bureau collects employment and pay data on Americans with disabilities as part of its regular surveys.  Persons with disabling injuries may be compared to the total population in order to get a statistical comparison of the reduction in probability of employment or the median earnings of a disabled person, as compared to the average person in the workforce. This data indicates that people who have disabilities, unsurprisingly, have reduced likelihood of employment and reduced earnings (if they are employed) compared to the average American.

The Census Bureau has a breakdown of impact by disabling condition, which can be related to injured individuals to show what degree of future earning reduction is statistically expected. Independent measures of loss can be found for many types of disabilities including: difficulty seeing, hearing, concentrating, getting along with others, speaking, walking, lifting, grasping, standing, sitting, crouching, reaching, moving heavy objects, or coping with stress.  Disability is also indicated by the use of wheelchair or a walker, and by limitations in the basic activities of daily living, such as homemaking, dressing or bathing, or by limitations of the more complex or instrumental activities of daily living such as managing finances and planning meals.

REAL NUMBERS

For someone with difficulty sitting due to a spine injury, according to the Census Bureau statistics, the probability of employment is approximately 58.25 percent less than that of the total population. An assumed 58.25 percent reduction in future work can be applied to the expected normal future earnings of the person. If a long haul truck driver earning $70,000 per year would have worked for another 21.5 years but for their injury, their near 60 percent reduction in expected future years worked can mean 12.5 years of lost earnings, a loss of over a million dollars including benefits. This large loss is not otherwise evident to the jury if the driver has returned to work currently driving the same route and hours and at the same pay.  But government statistics can allow an economist to opine as to this future loss with a reasonable degree of economic certainty.

For persons who are employed subsequent to an injury that results in a disability, the data from the Census Bureau shows that the rate of pay or earnings per hour work is also likely to be reduced. In the instance of the realtor discussed above, the average earnings for someone who works despite difficulty walking are 66 percent of the earnings of an average American.  So if we assume that a realtor earning was capable of earning $60,000 per year prior to their injury, their long term post-injury earnings capacity may be expected to be only $40,000.  At an annual reduction of $20,000 in earnings, a young realtor may lose over half a million dollars in the future over their career.

In the instance of a child injury this data is particularly useful. While a child would not have yet established any career path, the impact of disability on an injured child can be also shown based on statistical reductions. If a child has been injured resulting in a mild traumatic brain injury and has difficulty concentrating, that child may yet graduate college, with very significant effort.  But difficulty concentrating will impair career prospects and earnings; such disabled people earn only 43 percent of the average, non-injured population. This 57 percent impact can be applied to future earnings of the injured child.  While the present value of a healthy child’s future earnings (assuming they graduate college) including benefits could approach $4 million, the child who has difficulty concentrating can expect a reduction in earnings that well exceeds $2 million.

In addition to the income capacity of a child being reduced, the prospective level of educational attainment of a child is likely to be reduced as well with a disability. We frequently assume several pre-injury educational outcomes, such as some college and college graduation. It may be that someone we thought had a great likelihood of completing college may now likely only complete some college, or may not even go to college at all. The jury can be shown all the possible combinations of equal and or lesser education due to the injury, with the post-injury wages and employment reduced by the Census Bureau employment statistics. So we can, for example, assume some college prior to injury and only high school after the injury. The post-injury high school earnings would be reduced based on the Census Bureau statistics.

Sometimes there is a vocational assessment of the reduced wages or employment.  But these assessments are not based on, nor supported by, the U.S. Census Bureau statistics. An economist, however, can provide a strong statistical basis for the employment and pay impact on earnings capacity and career, and show the jury an evidence-based reduction in loss of future earnings and capacity.

CONCLUSION – A BETTER EDUCATED JURY

Assessing the partial loss of earnings capacity due to a disability presents a complex court challenge for plaintiff attorneys and for the juries.  Statistics produced by the Census Bureau can establish a solid and credible foundation for estimating those losses.  An economist, can provide opinions regarding the partial disability to a reasonable degree of economic certainty.  Without such testimony, there is a likelihood of a jury “guessing” which can lead to “unpredictable” jury verdicts, either much higher or much lower than might result through a better-informed jury.  This high variability can undermine the jury system which the Seventh Amendment established.  With credible economic testimony based on Census Bureau statistics, the jury system is better supported.  There may be more predictable jury verdicts (and, hence more settlements.)  We are all well-served by these real number results.

Stan V. Smith, Ph.D., is VLM’s Quarterly Economics Columnist and president of Smith Economics Group, Ltd., headquartered in Chicago.  Trained at the University of Chicago (one of the world’s pre-eminent institutions for the study of economics and the home of the law and economics movement), Smith has also taught at the university and co-authored the first textbook on the subject of economic damages.  A nationally-renowned expert in economics who has testified nationwide in personal injury, wrongful death and commercial damages cases, Smith has assisted thousands of law firms in successful results for both plaintiffs and defendants, including the U.S. Department of Justice. To that end, Smith also developed the first course in forensic economics at DePaul University, and pioneered the concept of “hedonic damages,” testifying about the topic in landmark cases.  His work has been featured in the ABA Journal, National Law Journal, and on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.  Kyle Lauterhahn is a Senior Economic Analyst at Smith Economics Group in Chicago. Smith Economics Group, Ltd., is located at 1165 N. Clark Street, Suite 600, Chicago, IL, 60610. Dr. Smith may be reached at 312-943-1551, and at Stan@SmithEconomics.com.

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

 

Looking For A Trifecta

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

On a recent morning, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman sits behind her desk on the top floor of Las Vegas City Hall, with a picturesque view of downtown’s revitalization behind her. Greeting a reporter, the mayor takes pride in the development outside her windows. “I wanted to continue Oscar’s vision,” she says about her immediate predecessor — and husband – former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.

Carolyn Goodman has certainly accomplished that, and much more. Now six years after taking office, and halfway through her second term, Mayor Carolyn Goodman tells Vegas Legal Magazine that she is “without question” running for a third term as mayor in 2019.

The mayor is especially proud of what is happening in downtown Las Vegas, which was always a central focus of her husband’s during his 12 years in office. The mayor turns to look out her office windows, and points to the development that started out as “Oscar’s vision,” but has now become their shared vision, as well.

“In fact, the only reason why I ran for office was because 17 people filed to become mayor,” she recalls, as she admires the view of new development. “And, my family came to me and said, ‘Mom, you have to continue on with Dad’s dreams and visions.’ At that time, everything you are seeing here in the mayor’s office — outside the windows — they weren’t here.”

Downtown Las Vegas revitalization has become a passion of both Oscar and Carolyn Goodman. Carolyn takes a lot of pride in downtown’s new growth during her tenure. “We have seen a huge surge of improvement and growth in the hotel industry downtown, with the Boyd (Gaming) group putting $30 (million) to $40 million into renovation for the California (hotel-casino). The Plaza (hotel-casino) is coming online.  The D (hotel-casino) is (now opened) there and, of course, (D owner Derek Stevens) just bought the Las Vegas Club,” she points out. “We have these high rises, and we are getting a lot of marketing on those, where people are coming into live.”

Oscar Goodman’s plans for downtown slowed during his last term as mayor, when the recession hit, starting in late 2007, his wife of 55 years explains. A few projects managed to stay on track during the economic downturn: Downtown’s Smith Center for the Performing Arts, and the Cleveland Clinic  Lou Ruvo Center  for Brain Health, both opened in Symphony Park shortly before Oscar Goodman left office.

“There’s still more to accomplish for the city,” she says. Carolyn Goodman sees her five decades in the community as an asset, in that she has seen just how far Las Vegas has come. “I love this town … So many people come in to buy land, or think about opening a business,” the mayor says. “Or (they may be) coming here to look (for a place) to live, or book a convention, and they need to know a little history. I have been here, goodness, 50-plus years. It is going to be 53 years come August. We have seen the town grow from 100,000 to 2.2 million (people). “

Mayor Carolyn Goodman has seen the small-town Vegas of old bloom into “an entertainment and gaming mecca,” complete with an internationally recognized Las Vegas Convention Center. She points to the some 43 million tourists coming in a year. Those visitors need to know who they can call in a strange city, she explains. And Mayor Carolyn Goodman wants to remain that point person for the next six years.

“If you travel internationally, and you don’t know who to contact, you always call up the mayor of the city,” she says.

“She’s Her Own Person”

Carolyn Goodman, however, didn’t initially want to fill the mayoral big shoes of her husband Oscar. The first Mayor Goodman was a great showman and hugely popular. Oscar Goodman is praised as a “one-man PR machine for Las Vegas” by Alan Stock, who is a local radio talk show host and political analyst. But Stock sees Carolyn Goodman as “more of a traditional mayor, and more low-key,” he adds.

Stocks contends that a lot of people thought they would see the fourth term of Oscar Goodman when his wife was elected mayor, but she has governed with her own style. “It wasn’t ‘Oscar four,’” Stock opines. “It was ‘Carolyn one,’ and then ‘Carolyn two.’ And if she’s elected to a third term, it will be “Carolyn three.’”

Carolyn Goodman, like her husband Oscar, is now non-partisan. She says it’s preferable for mayors while in office. Stock gives credit to Carolyn Goodman for not being a “political mayor,” ala the controversial New York mayor, Democrat Bill de Blasio.  “She doesn’t do controversial things,” Stock notes.

Carolyn Goodman has continued Oscar Goodman’s vision for Las Vegas, but she has also remained her “own person,” according to Michael Green, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas history professor.

“She is not Oscar Goodman, and nor should she be,” says Green, who happens to sit on the board of the Mob Museum with Oscar. Before being elected mayor, Oscar Goodman had worked as a well-known defense attorney for clients accused of being involved in organized crime. As mayor, Oscar Goodman had long hoped to open the museum. But the Mob Museum became a reality under the tenure of Carolyn Goodman.

“People forget now that, in 1999, when Oscar Goodman first announced he was running for mayor, a lot of people said ‘the wrong Goodman is running for mayor.’ They actually thought Carolyn should have run,” Green recalls.

Of course in retrospect, most Las Vegans now view Oscar Goodman’s 12 years as mayor as a success. And in 2011, while Carolyn Goodman started out as a very reluctant candidate for mayor, she did throw herself all into her campaign. Carolyn Goodman’s initial reservations were partially based on her already-full schedule.

“I had no intention of running. I had been involved in education here for over 26 years and founded the Meadows School. That took me 24-7 all the time, plus my family, and I was a happy cat.”

Carolyn Goodman decided to run for the office when she saw the list of candidates hoping to take over for her term-limited husband Oscar. “I didn’t need to rock the boat. And then it became very clear that while they were all well intentioned — the people that wanted to become mayor — they would have a vision that was theirs. They didn’t want to carry on the vision of Oscar Goodman.”

At the pleading of her family, Carolyn Goodman threw her hat into the ring to be the next mayor of Las Vegas in 2011. And, as was generally expected, she won. In 2015, Carolyn Goodman won re-election to a second term.

While Las Vegas mayor, Carolyn Goodman would still like to bring a major league, professional sports team to the actual city of Las Vegas. That was also a dream of her husband while he was in office.

Now, of course, the National Hockey League (NHL) has expanded into the Greater Las Vegas area with the Las Vegas Golden Knights team. Meanwhile, the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders’ owner Mark Davis has since inked a deal to move to the Las Vegas metro area – once a new $1.9 billion stadium is completed in a few years.

“I will continue to pursue Major League Soccer, the MLS, and I am sure we will get an NBA team here within the next decade because I have a very good relationship with Adam Silver, who is the (NBA) Commissioner,” she explains. “I also have a very good relationship with the MLS Commissioner (Don Garber).” Mayor Carolyn Goodman also sees great locations for professional basketball or soccer, within Las Vegas’ city limits.

“I am looking to develop Cashman Complex. It is a 5-acre parcel. We see a huge potential there for sports. So, that will happen,” she promises. “My only hope is that I live to see it all happen, because I am going into my seventh year next year.“

Looking to the future, the mayor is hoping for re-election to a third term. Those four more years could give her enough time to fulfill those big-league sports dreams, Carolyn anticipates. “So, I only have one more year, or so, on this term. Then I get a chance at one more term after that. “So, I have like five to six years to get it all done.”

Vegas Legal Magazine:  What can you share about new projects, and plans, in the works for Las Vegas?

Carolyn Goodman: A new project that the City is  piloting  is a much-needed one. As mayor, I have been advocating for it well over a year:  a free circulating bus shuttle which will move people around easily and comfortably, on a fixed route, in the four-square-mile  downtown core. Its purpose is to afford the tourists, residents, and employees, convenient and regular  connectivity  to businesses, downtown hotels and apartment buildings, (along with) restaurants, shops, galleries, museums, and entertainment venues.

As we work to build a more pedestrian-and-bike-friendly city, the “Downtown LOOP” portends to make a huge difference in achieving this goal.  Other cities around the country provide similar free shuttle services in their inner cores, and our hopes are that our businesses will enjoy the increase in visitations that they have seen occur. In its initial plan, the LOOP will operate seven days a week, nine hours a day. (It will) have stops at Bonneville Transit Center, the Arts District, the Las Vegas Premium Outlets, the Plaza Hotel and the Fremont Street Experience (both its west and east entrances). [It will also stops at] the Mob Museum, the Fremont East Entertainment District, and the Pawn Plaza (home of the Pawn Stars). We will be monitoring ridership and the popularity of the shuttle with an eye to the future.

Other projects underway — but not yet out of the Development and Planning Departments — are in Symphony Park, in the Cashman Complex, the Medical District, and in the booming northwest. Building proper infrastructure support, and streetscapes, are integral to every one of these projects we are undertaking. Having sufficient garage space and accessible roadway connectivity are other critical facets of preparation to building wisely, safely, well, and successfully.

VLM: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the City of Las Vegas, now and into the near future?

CG: The challenges of addressing a growing homeless population have been evident for far too long in our community though we are not alone in facing this movement.  Cities around the country, and in particular in the more moderate climate areas such as ours, are each facing the impact of homelessness and the residual effects of their residency.

The recent recession with the enormity of the foreclosures in Southern Nevada, of course, added to our homeless population. But fortunately, as we are seeing an economic rebound, many of those who lost jobs and homes are back on the road to recovery and housing.  In the general homeless population, we see persons who have lost jobs and/or are abandoned by families, a population of veterans, individuals who are mentally challenged and ill, addicted individuals, and even human-trafficked persons.  Each group and each individual has special needs and problems. So, the challenge is ongoing and, of course, costly to assist with — and provide for — all of the wrap-around necessities that each requires.

While the impact the homeless population has on local businesses, homeowners, roadway traffic, our hospitals and care centers (just to mention a few areas) is mindboggling, fortunately, Las Vegas is supported by incredible social service providers and unique charitable organizations. [These services and organizations] donate to help address the multitude of issues this population demands.  These not-for-profits have bonded together to provide housing/beds, medical care, sanitation, meals, counseling, job training and placement —just to mention a few services they offer. And, many of these services are afforded in the City’s Corridor of Hope in Ward 5. The struggle and planning have been going on 24/7 for years, and we will not quit until we have found success for each human being, and addressed his/her need. But the enormity of the undertaking is exhausting.  Yet plans are afoot … [and] visits to other cities with successful programs continue, Best Practices are sought out, evaluated and implemented where appropriate, and solutions come slowly.

Addressing mental health issues, and providing funding, for fixes are not just Las Vegas problems. [These] are national problems that federal and state health care must provide. Our [Nevada] Legislature and Governor [Brian Sandoval] can and must help. And, readers need to know we each need to do our own part.

Another challenge that has been with us for so long is the specter of Yucca Mountain, and the nuclear waste being transported through our city. The infrastructure in this country is beyond in dangerous disrepair often rated a “D-“ in national civil-engineering studies. To consider transporting nuclear and radioactive waste along roads, over bridges, into tunnels, or on rail anywhere, and at this time, is appalling. That these highly dangerous materials will be rolling throughout the nation at times unknown, on routes undisclosed and passing through and past population centers challenge even the least caring. It is time to repurpose, deactivate and research new ways for disposing of this radioactive and nuclear waste. A waste site at Yucca Mountain is more than a Nevada issue, it is of huge national safety concern. Yucca Mountain has always been a flawed proposal for many reasons. As mayor of Las Vegas, like everyone else, safety is my number one priority. This is not a risk I am willing to take for my city or for our country.

VLM:  Looking at the wrap up of the current 2017 Nevada legislative session, which (potential) new laws do you think will have the most impact (if any) on the future of Las Vegas?

CG: It is hard to say, but three specific areas are legislatively critical: First, the overhaul and reorganization of the Clark County School District is singularly one of the most important issues that new legislation must address. Those reasons [include] developing a responsively qualified and well-educated workforce; and preparing all CCSD children for productive and meaningful lives, for college entrance, and/or for vocational readiness.

Second, another critical legislative area that must be addressed is that of matching Medicaid reimbursement rates to those of neighboring states.  These rates directly affect private insurance reimbursement rates, and without an adjustment to a competitive standard, Nevada will never be able to retain and/or attract the finest physicians to our State. Third, [another issue is] property tax adjustments to [put] both a cap and bottom level [limit].

VLM:  There has been much news coverage of the battle between some U.S. cities and the Trump Administration over the crack down on “sanctuary cities.” Clark County received a letter from the administration recently, as well. Can you talk about your efforts to make sure that the City of Las Vegas does not get caught up in this fight?

CG: It is really not a fight for the city, as we have been consistent from the previous administration to the new administration in Washington. The City of Las Vegas has no ‘sanctuary’ ordinances in place. We are in compliance with ICE regulations and continue to work with federal authorities as required.  While Las Vegas is not a Sanctuary City, it is a sensitive and compassionate city. I’m passionate about finding a pathway to citizenship for the multitudes of undocumented individuals who live and work in Las Vegas, and are valued law-abiding, caring, participatory, and good people. That is, it. We comply with federal regulations in the city jail, and we want our representatives to iron out a pathway to citizenship.

VLM: You have said that you plan to run for another term as major. What is still left on your list of things to accomplish while in office?

CG: You haven’t enough space for me to respond!!!! I want this city to reach its potential of being WORLD CLASS!  For starters:  First [on the list is] expanding security and safety measures to a point of citizenry full comfort. Second, building out and FULLY staffing the [University of Nevada, Las Vegas] Medical School with appropriate, and complementary, adjunct growth. [That includes] the development of research and newly specialized medical care. Third, expanding the Cleveland Clinic-Lou Ruvo Institute for Brain Health. Fourth, fix the quality of pre-K – 12 educating for all segments of the population. Fifth, enhancing the cultural arts. [That includes a new art museum for Symphony Park]. And sixth, bringing in a [Major League Soccer] franchise and the NBA.

VLM: Your previous career was in education, founding the Meadows school. Can you give your opinion on the state of public, and private, education in Southern Nevada? What do you think could be done to improve the school system?

CG: It’s all about the quality of teachers, about the mission/purpose of the program, the academic/curricular programming, providing for extracurricular activities, and having more than adequate funding available to meet all of these goals. When we talk about educational funding, now, more than ever, we have to ensure that we are putting every dollar into the per-pupil student allocation. There is no way that $5,500 currently allocated per pupil is near adequate to attain goals of high-quality education. At a minimum that number needs to be at $10,000, because buildings don’t teach, teachers teach.

Attracting, and retaining, the finest means per-pupil allocation must be raised to meet that mark. Back in the 1990s, when our population was growing so fast we couldn’t keep up, we needed capital projects and new school facilities. What was forgotten was the quality of the education, and providing appropriate per-pupil expenditures. Today we see the results of that poor planning.

Changes are coming to the Clark County School District, but that is a process, and it will take time. While the city is not responsible for, nor empowered to be integrated into CCSD, it is moving forward to fill in the gaps in our children’s educations. [That is done through] before-and-after-school programming. This is being led by our Department of Youth Development and Social Innovation, which is providing supplemental and support programming like Safekey, Batteries Included and Strong Start, to name a few.

We are Reinventing schools in our urban core, creating hubs that serve as centers for not only a student’s education, but also as a point where a family can access services and programs. Our Downtown Achieves, and Las Vegas My Brother’s Keeper, programs now operate under the Re-Invent Schools umbrella.

By giving children a strong start and getting them reading before kindergarten, we have the chance to improve our high school graduation rates, and revitalize our communities.

We are also teaching students and their families how to be healthy through our Healthy School Healthy Life Program. This has been a model program which the U.S. Conference of Mayors recently recognized with an award for its childhood obesity prevention efforts. The city was awarded a $150,000 grant to expand this program to additional schools and continue to improve the health of our residents.

Valerie Miller is an award-winning journalist based in Las Vegas. She can be reached at valeriemusicmagic@yahoo.com.

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

Acute Trauma: An Imaging Perspective

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

-By Travis Snyder, DO

Distinguishing acute trauma from pre-existing degenerative changes (changes of aging) and other pathologic processes during medical imaging is essential for patient care and management, yet this is often challenging for both the treating physician and the radiologist. Imaging terminology and options, such as MRI pulse sequences can be confusing for physicians and non-physicians alike. Understanding of these concepts is surely essential for attorneys managing medical legal cases.

Imaging Options

Understanding the utility of the various modalities available in diagnostic imaging is important. Fractures in the spine or extremities can occasionally be subtle or not visualized on plain film (x-ray) and if there is high clinical concern, MRI is recommended. Extremity x-rays for fractures should ideally include standard 3 views. Ligament and tendon injuries are most often not seen on x-ray, although indirect signs may be present. MRI is the exam of choice to asses these and other soft tissue injuries. CT is excellent for assessing bony pathology such as fractures, particularly rib fractures, but is more limited in assessing the soft tissues. Intravenous contrast may be administered in cross sectional studies (MRI or CT), but other than to assess for abdominal organ or vascular injury, contrast is of limited value in evaluating acute or subacute injuries and is generally reserved to characterize or diagnose nontraumatic conditions such as infection or neoplasm or postsurgical spinal evaluation. A MRI arthrogram is a procedure where MRI sensitive contrast and water are injected into the joint under fluoroscopic imaging guidance by a radiologist and then scanned using MRI. This exam is typically ordered to assess the labrum (an important stabilizing thin but sturdy circumferential soft tissue structure peripheral and superficial to the cartilage), in either in the shoulder or hip where intraarticular contrast (Arthrogram) offers increased detection rate for labral tears1. Ultrasound may be of benefit to assess for traumatic ventral abdominal or inguinal hernia.

Spine Pathology

In the spine, straightening, and particularly reversal, of the normal cervical and lumbar lordotic (posterior concave arching as seen on sagittal/lateral view) curvatures, can be associated with muscle spasm and pain in the proper clinical setting. Anterior subluxation (anterolisthesis) and posterior subluxation (retrolisthesis) of a vertebral body compared to the one below may indicate underlying ligamentous injury, particularly in younger patients. Translation (movement) of one vertebral body on another as seen on sagittal (lateral or side view) imaging during flexion and extension x-ray/MRI or dynamic flexion/extension video fluoroscopy is a concerning finding. Translation can be indicative of instability with underlying ligamentous injury and has prognostic value in determining disability2. Assessment of ligamentous injury is best seen on sagittal STIR imaging (a dedicated fluid sensitive MRI sequence). Subtle injuries may be better identified on the more advanced 3.0 Tesla magnet (rather than a 1.0 or 1.5 Tesla system).

Intervertebral discs are present in-between the vertebral bodies and best evaluated on MRI. Morphology of disc pathology is important; disc protrusions and extrusions are more likely to be acute than disc osteophyte complexes or broad disc bulges, although acute pathology can be superimposed on preexisting degenerative changes. Size of the disc herniation is also significant secondary to mass effect on nerves and resultant narrowing of neuroforamina or resultant spinal stenosis which should be documented regardless of morphology. Absence of findings such as degenerative disc signal or osteophytes can occasionally aid in assessing acuity. Annular tears/fissures of the intervertebral disc can be associated with trauma or degenerative change; additional descriptions such as size, whether the tear is peripheral, vertically orientated, bright on STIR imaging, or demonstrates a radial component (extends to the center) may assist in determining etiology and prognosis3-4.

Extremity Pathology

Regarding extremities, edema and surrounding fluid at the site of pathology on MRI are helpful findings that may suggest acuity. Unusual injuries in a symptomatic young patient following trauma such as a rotator cuff tear or large SLAP tear (superior labral tear) in the shoulder or a complex meniscal tear in the knee do not typically present a diagnostic dilemma as to traumatic causality. Alternatively, joint space narrowing, subchondral cystic changes and uniform cartilage loss are not acute posttraumatic findings.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury often occurs at the grey-white matter junction due to differing densities of the grey (cortical) and white (subcortical) matter. These shearing injuries (diffuse axonal injuries) may be hemorrhagic or non-hemorrhagic. The hemorrhagic injures are best seen on SWI (susceptibility weighted imaging), which is 4-6 times more sensitive than dedicated hemo-sensitive gradient echo images5. Sagittal FLAIR imaging provides added sensitivity for the non-hemorrhagic lesions. Cerebral contusions, subdural hematomas and characteristic ‘coup contrecoup’ patterns are assessed utilizing standard brain sequences.

Diffuse Tensor Imaging (DTI) measures water diffusion along the white matter axons (which can be thought of as “telephone lines” of the brain). Decreased DTI values following head trauma is well documented in the literature and correlates with clinical outcome6. NeuroQuant hippocampal volumetric software analysis adds objective quantification in assessing the

hippocampal volume loss associated with head trauma7.

In addition, advanced trauma brain protocol may include functional (fMRI)8, perfusion imaging9 performed with contrast or using arterial spin labeling (ASL), and MR spectroscopy10.

Of course, any imaging findings, regardless of modality, should be assessed in the proper clinical context and absence of supporting imaging findings does not exclude injury. Clinical corroboration is always advised.

Dr. Snyder is a 2009 Touro University of Nevada Osteopathic Medical School graduate and a current assistant adjunct professor of Radiology and Neuroradiology at Touro. He completed his Radiology residency at McLaren Macomb (Michigan State) in Michigan and his Neuroradiology fellowship at the University of Miami and returned to Las Vegas to practice at SimonMed Imaging in Las Vegas. He has special interest in teaching rotating medical students, lecturing, and research on advanced imaging techniques for traumatic brain injury and carbon monoxide poisoning.

References

1. 3-T MRI of the Shoulder: Is Arthrography Necessary? Magee, T. AJR Jan 2009 Volume 192, Issue 1

2. Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Sixth Edition 6. American Medical Association.

3. Annular Tears and Disc Degeneration in the Lumbar Spine. A post-mortem study of 135 discs Osti OL, Vernon-Roberts B et al. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1992 Sep;74(5):678-82

. 4. Do Presence and Location of Annular Tear Influence Clinical outcome after Lumbar total Disc Arthroplasty? A prospective 1-year follow-up study James J. Yue, et al Int J Spine Surg. 2012; 6: 13–17.

5. Hemorrhagic Shearing Lesions in Children and Adolescents with Posttraumatic Diffuse Axonal Injury: Improved Detection and Initial Results. Tong et al. Radiology 2003; 227:332–339.

6. A Decade of DTI in Traumatic Brain Injury: 10 Years and 100 Articles Later M.B. Hulkower, et al. American Journal of Neuroradiology November 2013, 34 (11) 2064-2074.

7. Man Versus Machine Part 2: Comparison of Radiologists’ Interpretations and NeuroQuant Measures of Brain Asymmetry and Progressive Atrophy in Patients With Traumatic Brain Injury. Ros DE, et al J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2015;27(2):147-52. doi: 10.1176/appi. neuropsych.13040088.

8. Functional MRI of Mild Traumatic brain injury (mTBI): Progress and Perspectives from the first Decade of Studies. McDonald B et al. Brain Imaging Behav. 2012 Jun; 6(2): 193–207.

9. Perfusion Deficits in Patients with mild Traumatic Brain injury Characterized by Dynamic Susceptibility Contrast MRI. Liu W et al. NMR Biomed. 2013 Jun;26(6):651-63. doi:

10.1002/nbm.2910. Epub 2013 Mar 4. 10. Proton MR Spectroscopy in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Bozena Kubas et al Pol J Radiol. 2010 Oct-Dec; 75(4): 7–10.

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

Super Priority, Supreme Court?

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

-By J. Malcolm DeVoy, Esq

Recently, the Nevada Supreme Court and United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (the “Ninth Circuit”) reached opposing conclusions on the same issue of Nevada law. As has been noted in the past,1 Nevada’s Supreme Court does not hesitate to distinguish itself from other federal courts and their holdings. The latest major juncture in this dispute finds the Nevada Supreme Court disagreeing with the Ninth Circuit in a manner that could raise profound constitutional issues and require the United States Supreme Court’s intervention to resolve.

For real estate litigation “cognoscenti,” it is no surprise that the crux of this problem arises from the superpriority liens created by NRS 116.3116 et seq., which historically gave homeowners associations (“HOA’s”) a super-priority interest in the most recent nine months’ worth of HOA dues.2 Following the economic turmoil of 2008 through 2009, HOA’s sold these liens to the highest bidders, who in turn would commence nonjudicial foreclosing proceedings based on possessing a super-priority interest in the property by purchasing the interest created by the overdue HOA dues. Investors savvy to this process were able to purchase single family homes—frequently in highly desirable areas—for thousands of dollars.

Litigation ensued. Banks, incredulous that NRS 116.3116 and its super-priority extinguished its much larger deed of trust interests on the houses, took to the courts arguing that the super-priority lien did not operate as it was being applied. To the banks, the super-priority liens created, at best, an equitable entitlement to first satisfy the delinquent HOA dues from the proceeds of a foreclosure sale performed by the holder of a first deed of trust—it did not extinguish the deed of trust entirely. The Nevada Supreme Court, however, saw it otherwise. In 2014, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled in SFR Investments Pool 1 LLC v. U.S. Bank N.A. that the plain language of NRS 116.3116 did create a true super-priority lien in the overdue HOA dues, and one that would extinguish even a bank’s deed of trust in the property.3

More litigation ensued. In late 2016, a permutation of the super-priority lien issue made its way before the Ninth Circuit.4 Rather than address the operation and true intent of NRS 116.3116, which the Nevada Supreme Court had spoken to in SFR and its lineage of related cases, the Ninth Circuit took a different approach. The appeals court found NRS 116.3116(2) to be facially unconstitutional, constituting an impermissible state action requiring lenders to protect themselves against loss—despite holding deeds of trust—by requesting notice from HOA’s of their intended foreclosure on their super-priority liens.5 As a result, Nevada’s super-priority scheme resulted in a violation of the lender’s due process rights.6 For a moment, at least in federal court, the superpriority was dead.

This death of the super-priority lien was short-lived. In January of 2017, the Nevada Supreme Court directly addressed the Bourne Valley decision in Saticoy Bay LLC Series 350 Durango 104 v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, and expressly “declin[ed] to follow” the Ninth Circuit’s holding.7 The Nevada Supreme Court’s position, and interpretation of state law, undermined the premise of the Ninth Circuit’s opinion: That nonjudicial foreclosure of an HOA lien involves state action and implicates the due process clause of the United States Constitution. “[D]ue process is not implicated in an HOA’s nonjudicial foreclosure,” wrote the Nevada Supreme Court, going on to explain in detail why the super-priority lien’s extinguishment of subordinate interests, including deeds of trust held by national banks, did not constitute a government taking.8

The tension between the Ninth Circuit and Nevada Supreme Court creates a potential mess of federalism. Under the Erie doctrine, federal courts that have based their jurisdiction on diversity (i.e., the amount in controversy and differing citizenship of the parties, rather than purely federal questions such as patent infringement or qui tam actions under the federal false claims act) are compelled to follow state law.9 Ultimately, states have the final determination of what their law actually is, whether through the judiciary or the legislature. On questions of federal law, though, federal courts have the final say, for reasons traced directly back to the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.

The latest phase of the super-priority lien fight is less of a fight about the law’s meaning than whether or not it implicates rights arising under the United States Constitution. The Ninth Circuit’s opinion in Bourne Valley contends that it does, and the statute on its very face violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.10 Nevada’s Supreme Court, arguably making the dispute a matter wholly of state law and therefore beyond the United States Supreme Court’s reach, reasoned that super-priority foreclosures did not implicate the due process clauses of either the United States or Nevada Constitutions.11

The Nevada Supreme Court’s self-differentiation from other federal courts is not some quirk of local law. Despite the ever-broadening sweep of federal law,12 the United States Supreme Court recognized within the last 100 years that it was “one of the happy incidents of the federal system” that a single state may “serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”13 As seen in the ongoing super-priority lien battles, and the Nevada Supreme Court’s general support for enforcing the Nevada statute as written in prior decisions, its distinctiveness can have far-reaching implications and set the stage for larger battles. While the likelihood of any particular case being heard by the United States Supreme Court is slim, the question of whether a state can determine whether or not its own laws implicate constitutional rights is one that the justices may select for review.

Malcolm (“Jay”) DeVoy is the owner of DeVoy Law P.C. DeVoy focuses on providing representation in commercial disputes, serious personal matters, and advising medical professionals and practices about issues including HIPAA, the Star Law, and the Anti-Kickback Statute.

1. See Daubert or Not Daubert: Does it Make a Difference? A Brief Discussion of Expert Testimony & Opinion Admissibility, Vegas Legal Magazine (Dec. 2016); Nevada Supreme Court Extends the FDIC Extender Statute, jaydevoy.com (May 2015).

2. This statutory regime was amended by the Nevada legislature in its 2015 session.

3. 334 P.3d 408 (Nev. 2014).

4. Bourne Valley Court Trust v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 832 F.3d 1154 (9th Cir. 2016), reh’g. denied (petition to U.S. Supreme Court for writ of certiorari filed Apr. 3, 2017).

5. Bourne Valley, 832 F.3d at 1158. 6. Id.

7. Saticoy Bay LLC Series 350 Durango 104 v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, 388 P.3d 970, 974 at n. 5 (Nev. 2017).

8. Id. at 974-75.

9. Federal courts are, however, allowed to make certain predictions regarding how state courts would rule on issues where there is no direct precedent; federal courts also have the option to certify questions of state law to the Nevada Supreme Court for its consideration under Nevada Rule of Appellate Procedure 5.

10. Bourne Valley, 832 F.3d at 1160.

11. Saticoy Bay, 388 P.3d at 975. 12. See, e.g., Harvey Silvergate, Three Felonies a Day (2011).

13. New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, 285 U.S. 262, 311 (1932) (noting, ironically, that the court may strike down laws and “prevent” such experiments where statutes violate the due process clause.)

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

Las Vegas Icons: Susan Anton

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

When actress and singer Susan Anton walks into a room, people don’t just notice her statuesque beauty, although at 5’11” it is hard to miss, but also her radiant smile that comes so easily. At 66 years young, she’s had many successes in her career and personal life and continues to venture into some familiar and less-familiar territory. Very much in the game, she continues to pursue her passions as an entertainer, mentor, businesswoman and maybe even an author, down the road. the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

When actress and singer Susan Anton walks into a room, people don’t just notice her statuesque beauty, although at 5’11” it is hard to miss, but also her radiant smile that comes so easily. At 66 years young, she’s had many successes in her career and personal life and continues to venture into some familiar and less-familiar territory. Very much in the game, she continues to pursue her passions as an entertainer, mentor, businesswoman and maybe even an author, down the road.

When actress and singer Susan Anton walks into a room, people don’t just notice her statuesque beauty, although at 5’11” it is hard to miss, but also her radiant smile that comes so easily. At 66 years young, she’s had many successes in her career and personal life and continues to venture into some familiar and less-familiar territory. Very much in the game, she continues to pursue her passions as an entertainer, mentor, businesswoman and maybe even an author, down the road.

From her tenure as Miss California, to winning runner up in Miss America, to some well-publicized relationships along with a constant presence in Hollywood, New York City, Las Vegas and Japan, Susan Anton has in many ways led a charmed life, and one full of lessons that have made her who she is today—an enduring Las Vegas icon.

Recently we had the privilege to sit with Susan Anton and find out more about her life, past and present, and her future as she continues to forge ahead with her decades-long career.

Vegas Legal Magazine (VLM): What brought you to Vegas?

Susan Anton (SA): The first time I was ever in Vegas was when I was 15 years old. I was on a tour with a group of 14 &15 year-old teenagers from my hometown in Yucaipa. I was in awe of all the lights (of the Strip) going as far as I could see. From the time I was 21 years old, I have been in and out of Vegas.

VLM: What was your first job in Vegas?

SA: My first Vegas job was in the production show, Turn it On at the Hacienda Hotel, where the Mandalay Bay now sits. I will never forget the first time I saw my name on the marquee. Granted the steak special had bigger lettering than my name, but it was (and still is) one of the most exciting moments in my life!

VLM: What was your quintessential “Vegas moment?”

SA: After my 3 year run at the Hacienda Hotel I returned to Los Angeles where my TV, Film and recording career took off. I returned to Las Vegas a few years later and co-headlined with some of the great Headliners of the day. The first time I saw my name in lights alongside George Burns with thrilling. I worked with everyone from Ben Vereen and Sammy Davis Jr. to Tony Orlando, Paul Anka and Kenny Rogers (who I later toured with for 2 years) and many, many more. I was spending about 40 weeks out of the year in Vegas. Work took me back to Los Angeles and New York, but several years later I returned to Las Vegas with the The Great Radio City Spectacular at the Flamingo Hotel. I had been the headliner on a 72-city tour with the Radio City Rockettes. It was the 60th anniversary of Radio City Music Hall and the first time the Rockettes performed outside of New York City so taking the show on the road was a big deal. When our 72-city tour ended we came to Las Vegas and took up residency at the Flamingo Hotel for the next 7 years. It was at this time my husband, Jeff Lester and I decided to become residents of Las Vegas. The Rockettes are truly a talented group of dancers who work hard. I learned so much from them in our 7 years together and many of the girls decide to stay in Las Vegas and call it home and are still my friends today.

VLM: Who has been the most interesting and fun entertainer you have worked with?

SA: Four people come to mind right away—George Burns, Kenny Rogers, Sammy Davis, Jr. and of course, Frank Sinatra. I was fortunate that these talented entertainers became my friends as well as mentors. I have great memories of sharing the bill with Kenny Rogers and touring on his personal jet when he was at the height of his career, as well as being motivated by Sammy’s great performances and George’s comradery. I also enjoyed working with Dinah Shore. She was a gracious and funny woman. I remember one of her many dinner parties when I was dating Dudley Moore. I ended up being part of an impromptu singing and playing session with several other guests including Dudley, Jack Lemmon, Roger Miller, Angie Dickenson, Dinah Shore and the one and only Willie Nelson.

VLM: Is there a celebrity that you admire?

SA: Besides being an inspiration to me, Frank [Sinatra] stands out because of the way he made others feel when he was around. He always knew how to take care of the people around him. I remember when I introduced him to my mother, a long-time fan. A group of us were about to take a picture and my mother was standing on the end. Frank suddenly stopped mid-photo and turned to my mother and said, “A lady never stands in the end.” He then had her take the picture while standing next to him. It was that kind of personal touch that made him extra special.

VLM: Since your move to Vegas 20 years ago, is there a favorite project you have worked on?

SA: Besides The [Great] Radio City Spectacular, I enjoy performing at the Smith Center. I think it’s great that Las Vegas has a place where young people can watch live performing arts. My favorite venue at the Smith Center is the Cabaret Jazz. I like the intimacy and the connection you make with the audience when performing. I also enjoy mentoring young performers. I recently spent the day coaching some of Las Vegas’s talented high school students for Nevada High School Music Theater Awards. The winning student will represent our state in New York City this summer for the National competition.

VLM: How do you feel about being labeled an icon?

SA: I feel humbled and appreciated. It is an honor I take seriously. I always think back to my upbringing. My parents worked hard to provide for us. My dad was a proud Veteran of two wars and served in law enforcement as Detective Wally Anton for over 20 years. Watching my parents live their lives gave me a good education and foundation to live my life with the awareness and the privilege of creating a life that can have an impact on others and your environment.

VLM: Anything you would do differently?

SA: Well, I would have bought more property in Las Vegas! But seriously, I would have taken advantage of the opportunity to stay in New York and work longer with Academy Award winning director Mike Nichols. I met Mike when I was appearing in David Rabe’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Hurlyburly at the Barrymore Theater in New York City. I know I could have learned so much from him. But I was young, homesick and wanted to go back to my friends and family in California.

VLM: What current projects are you working on?

SA: About 20 years ago, my husband Jeff and I started our film productions company here in town [called] Big Picture Studios. We are working on various film projects in Las Vegas and beyond. We are in the early phases of development on a movie about The Women’s Air Force Service Pilots, WASPs. With the success of the movie, Hidden Figures we feel the stories of these brave women need to be told so everyone can recognize the contributions they made to our war efforts in the 1940’s. I also have a performance this August 25 & 26 at Vitellos in Shelia E’s, E-Spot showroom in Valley Village, Los Angeles. I’ll be reuniting with my band of over 35 years. Closer to home, this September, I will be performing at The Summerlin Library’s Performing Art Center.

VLM: Are there any other endeavors you are involved in?

SA: A few years back, I became a minority partner and brand ambassador in a new spirits company, Spa Girl Cocktails. It has been fun watching it take off in popularity. They have won some awards in spirits competition in Northern and Southern California. It’s now available in California, Arizona and at all of Lee’s Liquor locations across Las Vegas.

VLM: Have you considered writing a book?

SA: Yes, it is one of those ideas that keeps knocking at my door. I just need to find the time to organize my memories and put them down on paper.

VLM: Any advice for aspiring entertainers?

SA: The best advice I can give others is the advice I got from an old acting coach. His advice was to have a clear understanding of what you want—is it fame, money or for the love of it? Have clear motives and be true to that. And if you love it, it will love you back. Be engaged and bring your passion to it.

VLM: Can you tell us about any organizations you are involved with?

SA: Earlier this year I spoke at the Women with a Purpose Conference in Los Angeles. The event was started and hosted by some of the most dynamic female leaders to help empower women in many areas of their lives.

VLM: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

SA: Still being active in the industry and in the community. I would love to continue to be a mentor to Broadway-bound high school kids. I do know that whatever lies ahead is relevant and what it’s supposed to be.

VLM: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

SA: There are so many things to do in Vegas. I especially like going on hikes with my husband Jeff and our dog Joe at Red Rock. On special occasions we enjoy going to our favorite restaurant in Summerlin, Vintner Grill. The food and ambience are amazing. Coincidentally, the owner’s wife, Joelle, is a former Rockette and good friend. We met during our time with The Radio City Spectacular. So, in a way, it is a full circle of my earlier life in Vegas.

VLM: What is on your bucket list of things to do?

SA: One of my goals is to have a second home in California. Jeff and I still have many personal and professional connections in California. I would also love to move to a small, quaint village in Italy and live there for a year. I think it would be amazing to experience it as a resident, even if only temporarily.

VLM: Any last words for our readers?

SA: I want to thank the people of Las Vegas for all the blessings and opportunities. I am incredibly grateful. It really brings home that the gifts you receive are greater than you are asking for.

Susan Anton is a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada where she shares a home with her husband of 25 years, film director Jeff Lester and their dog, Joe. We are certain that we will continue to hear of many more successful ventures from Susan. Be sure to visit her website for more details of upcoming events and news http://www.susananton.com

Sabrina S. Siracusa is a Las Vegas-based freelance copywriter. With an undergraduate degree in psychology and an ABA Paralegal Certificate, Siracusa’s specialty is crafting SEO-filled content for legal, medical and career-based websites. She is currently the Publications Specialist at the State Bar of Nevada. Learn more about Siracusa and her work at http://www.writergirl.biz

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

Making Better Artists, Lawyers And Veterinarians

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

Education has always been at the heart of what we do at The Smith Center. I like to say that education is in our DNA: it’s what we do and it is who we are.

Las Vegas was the fourth city in America to be invited to participate in a new initiative from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Called “Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child,” the program was designed to assist communities with creating strategic plans that ensure access to quality arts education for local students. This initiative has now celebrated its fifth year in Southern Nevada

The original Community Arts Team that launched the initiative here included representatives from local government as well as numerous community arts and education organizations. It is thanks to these extraordinary groups that this program exists today (in fact, it is the largest such program in the country), and because of it, kids are being inspired to learn. Whether local children are studying science, technology, engineering, or math, this program has helped integrate the arts into their lessons. The same is true for language arts and social studies. The arts help to frame a discussion and allow kids to visualize the topic at hand.

Smith Center programs like Camp Broadway, Disney Musicals in Schools and the Nevada High School Musical Theater Awards also give our kids a chance to learn through the arts. The truth is that most kids who come to The Smith Center for a performance, a workshop or a camp may not choose to make this their occupation. But I like to think that by being exposed to the arts, we are creating well-rounded citizens.

My hope is that teachers use the power of the arts to create better students, and that our kids become better people thanks to a level of engagement that only the arts can bring.

We have great teachers living here in Las Vegas. The Smith Center was proud to create The Heart of Education Awards last year, which honored 800 of our best educators and awarded 20 of them with cash gifts totaling $100k. Thanks to The Rogers Foundation, this program will continue for many years. By coming together and supporting our teachers, our community sent a message that we care about our schools, our kids and the people we trust to teach them. If you or your firm didn’t get involved last year, please join us this spring and see for yourself how our teachers are going above and beyond for our students.

By thanking our teachers and giving them tools they need to be successful, we can make a big difference. I thank the Kennedy Center for its leadership, and I thank the many groups that come together every year to make programs like Any Given Child work so successfully. One day we will look back and realize that we created a new level of artist, and in the process we also created a new level of citizens who were inspired by the arts. Here’s to the next class of artists, lawyers and veterinarians!

Myron G. Martin is president and chief executive officer of The Smith Center. Martin earned a bachelors degree in music from the University of North Texas, and an MBA from Golden Gate University. A proud Las Vegan, Martin calls Henderson home with his wife Dana Rogers Martin and daughter Molly

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.