Pisanelli Bice is a boutique law firm focused on complex litigation.

Litigation comes naturally to Jordan Smith. “I’m from a family of lawyers, including my grandfather, father, mother, two uncles, aunt, brother and my wife,” Smith said. Having served as Deputy Solicitor General of Nevada, Smith is now a partner at Pisanelli Bice, one of the most prestigious law firms in the state.

“I’ve been a part of some of the most significant recent cases in Nevada. With Pisanelli Bice, I am lead counsel in the State’s litigation against the Department of Energy related to a secret plutonium shipment to the Nevada National Security Site and part of the team contesting the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository,” Smith said. While previously working at the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, Smith contributed to numerous other high-profile cases but considers being promoted to partner of Pisanelli Bice his greatest professional accomplishment to date.

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RENO — Nevada’s attempt to force the federal government to remove half a metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium can move forward, a federal judge in Reno ruled Monday.

The nine-page decision from U.S. District Judge Miranda Du means Nevada will be allowed to file an amended lawsuit asking the court to require the U.S. Energy Department to remove the plutonium that was secretly shipped into the state last year.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals shot down Nevada’s initial appeal because the complaint only asked to block the shipment of plutonium to Nevada and did not request that it be removed. When the state filed the first lawsuit against the Energy Department in 2018, it was not yet known that the nuclear material had already been shipped to the Nevada National Security Site, a federal facility located roughly 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The federal government did not disclose that information until this year.

A federal judge in South Carolina last year ordered the Energy Department to remove one metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium from the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. A half-ton was shipped to Nevada last fall, and the Energy Department announced in August that another half-ton had been shipped to either Texas or New Mexico.

In April, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., said she had struck a deal with Energy Secretary Rick Perry to remove the plutonium from Nevada starting in 2021, and that no additional plutonium would be sent to the Silver State.

LAS VEGAS – (Feb. 1, 2019) James J. Pisanelli and Todd L. Bice, founding partners of Pisanelli Bice, PLLC, announce that Jordan Smith has rejoined the firm as of counsel. Mr. Smith joined the firm in 2012 and now returns after serving as Deputy Solicitor General of Nevada. He will represent the firm in matters related to appellate and complex litigation.

“I am pleased to be rejoining the firm and look forward to advocating for our clients,” said Smith. “It is an honor to be a part of one of the leading law firms in Southern Nevada.”

Mr. Smith has more than eight years of experience in appellate and complex litigation. He has argued 18 times in various state and federal appellate courts on a range of issues, including business disputes, administrative law, bankruptcy, habeas corpus, and the death penalty.

While at the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, Mr. Smith represented the state in many constitutional cases and matters of statewide or national importance. He was lead counsel in the state’s first method of execution challenge since 2006, won a nationwide injunction against an unlawful federal regulation in a multi-state lawsuit, and successfully defended the state in the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit against an effort to jump-start the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project.

Mr. Smith has been recognized by his peers as one of Nevada’s leading litigators, including being named by Best Lawyers as the “Appellate Practice Lawyer of the Year” for Las Vegas, a “Legal Elite” by Nevada Business Magazine, “Appellate Practice Rising Star” by Mountain States Super Lawyers, and a “Top Lawyer” in litigation by Desert Companion Magazine.

“We are excited to welcome Jordan back to our legal team,” said Pisanelli. “He returns to us with an impressive record of litigating in the state and federal courts, and we know that he will serve our clients well and with the highest skill level they have come to expect from Pisanell Bice.”

Mr. Smith is a member of the State Bar of Nevada and the Federalist Society and regularly argues pro bono appeals in conjunction with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. He has published several scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals on issues of gaming law and statutory interpretation. Mr. Smith also engages in continuing legal education presentations and other speaking engagements.

2016 Best Lawyers in America. The list of Best Lawyers in America for 2016 includes the following from Southern Nevada, listed in alphabetical order by firm:

Pisanelli Bice

• Todd Bice, appellate practice, commercial litigation, litigation – First Amendment, litigation – land use and zoning, litigation – mergers and acquisitions

• James Pisanelli, bet-the-company litigation, commercial litigation, construction law, litigation – construction and litigation – real estate

• Debra Spinelli, commercial litigation

• Jordan Smith, appellate practice

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Appellate advocacy is the art of persuading, through oral and written communication, a majority of the judges or justices hearing your case to rule in your client’s favor. To be effective, a mastery of the relevant law and policy is not always enough. As Judge Richard A. Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has explained, “a sense of the audience is the key to an advocate’s rhetorical effectiveness. The advocate must think his way into the brains of the audience.” Despite the creation of the new Court of Appeals, the Nevada Supreme Court remains the primary audience for the Nevada business community’s appeals, as matters originating in business court are presumptively retained by the state’s highest tribunal.1 Thus, an appellate practitioner representing Nevada’s businesses must place himself or herself inside the minds of the Nevada Supreme Court Justices by knowing how they vote in addition to the rationale set forth in the Court’s opinions explaining why they voted in the manner that they did.

One innovative way for an advocate to study the appellate audience is by tracking the voting relationships between Nevada’s Supreme Court Justices; think of it as a form of appellate “moneyball” or “jury research.” For example, the following charts represent the level of agreement between Nevada Supreme Court Justices in published en banc cases during the 2014 calendar year. The cells represent the percentage of time that each of the Justices agreed with each other in full, in part, or in judgment in a majority, concurring, or dissenting opinion.




Pisanelli Bice Receives Tier One Rankings in U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” for 2020
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