Nevada court orders second trial in gambler case

Kathy Woods Jul. 31, 2009, 11:57pm

Nevada Supreme Court building

CARSON CITY, Nev. (Legal Newsline)-The Nevada Supreme Court this week ordered a new civil trial for professional gambler James Grosjean, citing attorney misconduct.

James Grosjean -- author of the book "Beyond Counting," a how-to beat the odds manual -- had been awarded $500,000 in punitive damages by a jury. That amount was $300,000 more than he had asked for originally. A Clark County judge had already cut that award to $150,000.

Grosjean was detained, handcuffed and searched in April 2000 at the request of State Gaming Control agents, in the Imperial Palace Casino in Las Vegas. One agent had stated that he should be released and he was held for an additional 20 minutes.

The high court said in its decision released Thursday that Grosjean's trial lawyer, Robert Nersesian, improperly asked jurors to "send a message" to the casino, to put themselves in his clients position, and injected inappropriate personal stories and disparaging comments into his statements.

"Grosjean's attorney's comments during witness examination, during closing argument, and later during the punitive damage portion of the trial encouraged the jurors to look beyond the law and the relevant facts in deciding the issue before them," the Supreme Court ruled.

Grosjean, who has denied any wrongdoing, had been detained by casino security prior to this incident after winning $18,000 at a blackjack table at Caesars Palace. That case was later dropped.

The justices upheld the compensatory damages award, stating that the evidence presented at trial "reasonably could support the verdict rendered here."

As to the punitive damage portion, the justices said: "We cannot conclude that the jury's $500,000 punitive damage award, which was $300,000 more than Grosjean had requested, was not a product of attorney misconduct, rising to a level warranting reversal."

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