Private detective appeals to Nevada Supreme court in Reno mayor’s lawsuit over GPS tracking device

May 12, 2023, 8:15 PM

FILE - Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve speaks at a news conference during the U.S. Conference of Mayors ...

FILE - Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve speaks at a news conference during the U.S. Conference of Mayors 90th Annual Meeting at the Peppermill Resort Hotel, June 3, 2022, in Reno, Nev. A private investigator who used GPS devices to secretly track the vehicles of Schieve and a county commissioner ahead of the November election asked the Nevada Supreme Court on Friday, May 12, 2023, to overturn a judge's order that he identify the client who hired him. (AP Photo/Tom R. Smedes, File)

(AP Photo/Tom R. Smedes, File)

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A private investigator who used GPS devices to secretly track the vehicles of Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and a county commissioner ahead of the 2002 election asked the Nevada Supreme Court late Friday to overturn a judge’s order that he identify the client who hired him.

Schieve filed suit in December seeking damages from private detective David McNeely for a violation of her privacy after a mechanic alerted her to the clandestine GPS tracking device.

Sparks police determined it was purchased by McNeely and ex-Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung joined the suit in February under similar circumstances.

Lawyers for McNeely said in Friday’s appeal to the state’s high court that divulging the name of a client who paid him to spy on the politicians would violate the long-accepted and expected confidentiality of a “private investigator-client relationship.”

The attorneys said Washoe District Judge David Hardy had erroneously rejected McNeely’s argument earlier this month that the client’s name was a “trade secret” protected under Nevada law. They likened the stealth nature of the relationship to the “secret sauce” in a prized recipe.

“Clients of private investigators expect confidentiality,” attorney Ryan Gormley wrote in a 31-page appeal filed Friday.

“Without that confidentiality, the business will fail. Thus, the protection of client identity creates significant economic value for both defendants and the private investigation industry as a whole,” he said.

Hardy had ordered McNeely to identify his client by Friday. But he noted in his ruling earlier this month that he was inclined to stay the case if an appeal was in the works because there would be no way to reverse the harm McNeely suffered from the disclosure of his client’s identity if an appellate court later decided he had a right to keep it secret.

Another lawyer filed a motion this week to halt the proceedings on behalf of an anonymous John Doe who said he hired McNeely in an effort to combat corruption in government.

The document attorney Jeffery Barr filed said John Doe has a First Amendment right to anonymously investigate elected officials. It said Doe had not broken any laws or disseminated any of the information gathered on his behalf and never was aware or instructed McNeely to place GPS trackers on vehicles.

Judge Hardy on Thursday agreed to put the case on hold while McNeely pursued appeal avenues, a stipulation to which all the parties had agreed.

The tracking device was on Schieve’s vehicle for at least several weeks and on Hartung’s vehicle for several months, their lawsuit says.

Schieve said McNeely trespassed onto her property to install the device, which a mechanic noticed while working on her vehicle last year in the thick of campaign season, about two weeks before she won re-election for mayor in November.

Hartung also won re-election but since has resigned to accept an appointment as chairman of the Nevada Transportation Commission.

Hardy said in his May 4 ruling that the use of a GPS tracking device to monitor the movements of a person could be “a tortious invasion of privacy.”

McNeely’s appeal said the Supreme Court’s intervention is necessary to provide clarity to state law industry wide.

“In the context of the private investigator-client relationship, the secrecy of the relationship between the private investigator and client is precisely what makes the relationship valuable to the business,” the appeal said.

“Because, without the secrecy, there would be no relationship,” it said. “The confidentiality is the secret sauce.”

National News

Associated Press

Biden to enforce ban on oil, gas drilling to protect tribal sites around New Mexico’s Chaco

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Biden administration is implementing a 20-year withdrawal banning oil and gas development outside the boundaries of Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico. The action taken by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland in the nation’s No. 2 oil-producing state was announced Friday. It is intended to protect […]

4 hours ago

FILE - White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks at a press briefing at the White ...

Associated Press

White House wants to engage Russia on nuclear arms control in post-treaty world

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is ready to have talks with Russia without preconditions about a future nuclear arms control framework even as it is the last nuclear arms control treaty between the two countries. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan will make clear the Biden administration’s desire for talks on building a […]

4 hours ago

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken disembarks from the airplane at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport in...

Associated Press

US reopens embassy in Seychelles after 27-year absence

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States has reopened its embassy in the Seychelles after a 27-year absence during which China and other U.S. rivals made significant inroads in the Indian Ocean islands. The U.S. State Department announced the move late Thursday, after having unveiled plans to open a diplomatic mission in northern Norway, which will […]

1 day ago

Associated Press

US expands slots for asylum app at land crossings as demand overwhelms supply

HARLINGEN, Texas (AP) — U.S. authorities on Thursday expanded slots to seek asylum at land crossings with Mexico through a mobile app for the second time in less than a month, seeking to dispel doubts it isn’t a viable option. There are now 1,250 appointments at eight land crossings, up from 1,000 previously and 740 […]

1 day ago

In this photo provided by Vernon Tyau, Jarek Agcaoili, left, with his mother Danielle, sister Jessi...

Associated Press

3 dead, 2 missing after family fishing trip in Alaska becomes a nightmare

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska fishing adventure became a nightmare for a family of eight when disaster struck one of the two boats they chartered over the Memorial Day weekend, leaving three people dead and two more missing despite a desperate search over hundreds of square miles of ocean. The tragedy tore the Tyau […]

1 day ago

FILE - The sign for Fort Bragg, N.C., is displayed, Jan. 4, 2020. Fort Bragg will shed its Confeder...

Associated Press

Fort Bragg to drop Confederate namesake for Fort Liberty, part of US Army base rebranding

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Fort Bragg will shed its Confederate namesake to become Fort Liberty in a Friday ceremony that some veterans view as a small but important step in making the U.S. Army more welcoming to current and prospective Black service members. The change is part of a broad Department of Defense 2020 George […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Private detective appeals to Nevada Supreme court in Reno mayor’s lawsuit over GPS tracking device