John L. Smith: Jeff German slaying case expected to take a long time in court


K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP

FILE - Jeff German, host of "Mobbed Up," poses with Planet Hollywood, formerly the Aladdin, in the background on the Strip in Las Vegas, on June 2, 2021.

The Las Vegas community continues to react to the murder of Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German.

The Clark County District Attorney's office is now preparing for a possible preliminary hearing next month against Public Administrator Robert Telles, who is accused in the Sept. 2 slaying of the veteran reporter.

This past weekend, German's name was honored by Governor Steve Sisolak and added to the Nevada Press Association's Hall of Fame. Stories and a podcast he wrote for the Review-Journal received top honors at the Nevada Press Association's annual awards dinner. The Investigative Reporters and Editors Group is planning to honor German as well.

He was 69 at the time of his death, and had spent more than four decades as a reporter for both the Las Vegas Sun and the Review-Journal.

State of Nevada contributor John L. Smith joined us to talk more about the developments in this case, and how local journalists in the community are reacting following German's death.

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On the honors

Reporters would have to go through a whole career and then some to receive the honors and accolades that Jeff German has received in the past few weeks. Governor Sisolak set aside a day in German's honor, and of course, as you said in your introduction, German is among a group of reporters who certainly ticked off enough governors over the years.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, the largest paper in the state, is making its thoughts and feelings and sentiments well known, honoring German with front page stories and reminiscences about a long and colorful and sometimes controversial career ... you've got a kind of remarkable moment in the midst of a really a terrible tragedy.

On a controversial statement

Elizabeth Thompson, editor of The Nevada Independent, was criticized heavily on social media after negative comments she made about the response to German's death. 

I think that all of this occurred at a time when emotions are really high. When nerves are really raw, a lot of folks are mourning the loss of their colleagues, their friends or family members. And so what the editor said was certainly not in the majority. However, journalists also have to respect those opinions that they disagree with. I think there's a balancing point here, it was interesting to see the Indy staff step up and write their own its own response to their editor that shows us a level of freedom that isn't at every news publication in the country, that's for sure. I tend to think that this is kind of a one-off that blows over. Everyone's a grown up here. You could see that the feelings were hurt. And to her credit, Elizabeth Thompson responded to those hurt feelings by saying that was never her intention.

On development in the case

It's a kind of modern era in the court system, and things do take longer in the old days. Homicides often went from the arrest part to the trial by jury in just a few weeks. However, this is a different thing. There's also complexities here with the newspaper attempting to hold on to German's phone records and materials and laptops. So there are some things that have to take place. And remember, they don't have to go with their preliminary hearing, prosecutors can take their case as they see it to a grand jury and attempt to indict the defendant. So there are a lot of ways to go still, and it's very early in the process. 

On why Telles still has a job

See, as an elected official, he is ruled by different regulations. District Attorney Steve Wolfson and county staff, they have to basically go after him in a kind of litigation to show that he's unfit for office, that he obviously cannot serve in the capacity that he's in and go from there. I anticipate they'll be successful. But it is one of those things that is an elephant in the room right now, you know, because of all of the trouble that he faces, and yet still technically draws his $120,000 salary. I know that a lot of folks in the court of public opinion are looking at that and really scratching their heads, and I see county officials trying to do something about it.


John L. Smith, contributor, State of Nevada

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