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Poker Star’s Divorce Case Raises Issue of Judicial Campaign Contributions

Posted Jul 13, 2012 5:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The Nevada Supreme Court considered oral arguments on Tuesday in a spousal support case involving a poker pro who contributed $5,000 to the trial judge’s re-election campaign.

The case considers whether judges must recuse themselves when litigants make contributions to their campaigns, the Associated Press and the Las Vegas Review-Journal report.

The case involves Phil Ivey, who made the contribution to a Clark County judge after he granted an uncontested divorce to the champion poker player in 2009. In 2011, Ivey’s ex-wife, Luciaetta, sought to enforce spousal support obligations and tried to force the judge’s recusal.

Luciaetta Ivey’s lawyer, Bruce Shapiro, argued Tuesday that the contribution creates the appearance of impropriety. Phil Ivey’s lawyer, David Chesnoff, noted the contribution was made after the divorce was granted. "The case is already dead," he said.

Chesnoff said Phil Ivey stopped making payments when he stopped earning money from Full Tilt Poker, which was seized by the Justice Department in 2011.

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