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Judge orders private investigator to name client in Reno GPS tracker lawsuit

Judge David Hardy holds a stack of paper in one hand while wearing glasses and a black robe.
Courtesy Bob Conrad
This Is Reno
District Court Judge David Hardy speaks with lawyers during a court hearing on Monday, May 1. Hardy ordered the private investigator who put a GPS tracker on Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve's car to identify his client.

Editor’s note: This story was produced as part of a collaboration among KUNR Public Radio, The Nevada Independent and APM Reports as part of the Public Media Accountability Initiative, which supports investigative reporting at local media outlets around the country.

A Washoe County court is requiring the private investigator who put a GPS tracker on Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve’s car to name his client.

Thursday morning, District Court Judge David Hardy ordered David McNeely to identify who hired him to track Schieve during the last election, dismissing McNeely’s arguments that the information was a trade secret. McNeely has until Friday, May 12, to cough up a name.

Schieve welcomed the news, saying she’s hopeful the case is closer to being resolved.

“I really appreciate the judge’s timeliness, because it’s been incredibly stressful,” she said. “You just don’t know, when someone is tracking you, what the intent is.”

McNeely’s lawyers declined to comment for this story.

Former Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung joined Schieve’s lawsuit because he believes McNeely also used the same device to track his personal vehicles. During a Monday court hearing, lawyers representing both politicians said the surveillance was a violation of privacy – an argument Hardy ruled was valid.

“This Court agrees with Plaintiffs that they have satisfied the notice-pleading standards to state a claim for Invasion of Privacy – Public Disclosure of Private Facts,” he wrote.

The order aligns with an earlier decision from a court appointee tasked with reviewing the case, who recommended the court compel McNeely to reveal his client in March. But the judge granted McNeely’s request to dismiss claims that he violated Nevada’s anti-doxxing law.

Schieve admitted she doesn’t know if McNeely will comply with Hardy’s timeline.

“[McNeely’s] pattern has been to appeal, and so we’ll see what happens,” she said. “But I’m hopeful, because it would be nice to understand the motive and who is behind this.”

Schieve and Hartung’s lawyers told Hardy during Monday’s hearing they plan to add McNeely’s client as a defendant to their lawsuit as soon as they have a name.

It could soon be illegal to place a GPS tracker on someone’s car without their consent in Nevada. Lawmakers are considering a bipartisan bill to ban the practice, which was inspired by the lawsuit.

Bert is KUNR’s senior correspondent. He covers stories that resonate across Nevada and the region, with a focus on environment, political extremism and Indigenous communities.
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