Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend 2017

Ah! The unofficial start of summer is finally here. Are you headed out of town this weekend? Is there anywhere to go that won't be crowded? As a reminder, remember to drink responsibly this weekend and don't get behind the wheel drunk. It's just not worth it.

  • Here's a look at why the DA's office is seeking a murder charge in a non-typical DUI case. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Governor Sandoval vetoed several bills yesterday, including one that would have allowed courts to reduce or suspend sentences for possession of certain controlled substances. [TNI]
  • Will the US Supreme Court take a look at President Trump's travel bans? [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Here's a ProPublica long read featuring several local attorneys and judges and centering on alleged prosecutorial misconduct by Judge William Kephart and Judge Doug Herndon's pursuit of a conviction when they were deputy DAs. As mentioned in the comments from yesterday's post, there is also a separate article focusing just on Kephart.

67 comments:

  1. So this dropped today:

    Home

    https://www.propublica.org/article/alford-pleas-fred-steese-conviction-without-admitting-guilt

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    1. Yikes! Thanks for posting.

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    2. Crazy that Kephart was the prosecutor in both the Steese case and the Kristen Lobato case. Both cases involve strong alibis for the defendants.

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    3. It is astonishing that they let Kephart try cases after the nonsense he pulled. Steese and Lobato are just two of many.

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    4. Kephart sucks crotch.

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  2. I saw the 2nd degree murder charge and immediately thought it was political posturing to generate more public desire for marijuana DUIs to be punished as severely as alcohol DUIs.

    With the recreational MJ comes MJ DUIs. This is gonna be a point of contention as the current legal limit for MJ in your system while driving is absurdly low.

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  3. The Steese story is absolutely infuriating. Also infuriating - there were two bills (AB356 and AB376) that would have required prosecutors to actually live up to their constitutional obligation to disclose evidence. But they both got gutted by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, so I guess prosecutors get to just keep hiding exonerating evidence and convicting innocent people.

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    1. The Assembly Judiciary Committee had great potential this session, but has failed at almost every turn. I was hoping for much more. We might as well just have the Republicans in charge if this is the result.

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  4. Over the last few days there has been a lot of negative posting about incumbent Municipal Judge Heidi Almase, who is involved in a very tough re-election bid against Cara Campbell.

    I know Almase on a casual,limited basis, and she seems pleasant enough. But I have never dealt with her on a legal matter when she was an attorney, and I subsequently never appeared in her court once she was on the bench.

    So, I am at something of a loss why there appears to be so much hostility against her, and the comments posted, although highly negative,
    either lack specifics and/or are intended as providing some form of levity.

    So, before I vote on this election or offer a recommendation to those who ask for my input, please tell me what the real problem with her is. Is she arrogant? Does she embarrass and demean attorneys in front of their clients?

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    1. "So, I am at something of a loss why there appears to be so much hostility against her, and the comments posted, although highly negative,"

      I don't know her and I probably won't vote at all, but I am in total agreement. The vapid bluster of the attacks leaves them without any weight in my eyes. Just more lame internet attacks.

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    2. You're right, saying you are going to vote for someone other than Almase is a personal, lame internet attack. Grow up, Team Almase.

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    3. Almase is in bed with Voldemort and Virgins in Politics. Is that not an indictment on her common sense?

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    4. Why do you say that?

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    5. 11:20 here again. I, again, ask if anyone can tell me why she should not be re-elected, without resorting to snide attempts at humor at her expense.

      I still have not made up my mind about the race, as I have not appeared in front of her.

      I am not particularly interested in which groups(all of whom clearly have an agenda) do or do not support her.

      I am asking for an attorney with some level of experience in her court to provide me his/her assessment.

      Humorous comments that she is supported by villains from Harry Potter movies is not overly helpful.

      Is she is a decent judge or is she not, and if not, why not?

      Thank You in advance for a mature, helpful response. Obviously many who blog here would consider me a fool with miss-placed priorities, but I am concerned about political elections and appointments and the quality of the men and women selected to serve.

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    6. I've never had a problem with Almase and I've practiced before her since she took the bench. She's certainly far better than her predecessor. Her retention rating in the "judging the judges" LVRJ poll was around 85%, so I'm not alone. She's fair. She's respectful. I don't see much of a reason not to retain her. I'm not swayed by Cara's successful fundraising efforts. Good on you for having friends in high places, but that doesn't move me to vote against a solid incumbent.

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    7. Almase sucks. Good enough reason for me.

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    8. 12:24 again. I'll add this. The first time I've heard anything negative about Heidi from anyone other than a disgruntled convict is when this campaign began. It seems to me the same few commenters (whom have already been called out here as being Campbell or part of her team) are trying to make Almase appear incompetent and disrespectful when that's simply not the case. I could be wrong, but the timing does strike me as odd.

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    9. 12:07 here again.

      Thank You, 12:24 and 12:30, for sensible, helpful observations.

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    10. I am on Team crea crea, who keeps posting the same shit over and over again, because I don't have a life.

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    11. The Harry Potter references are for certain people who appear in the comments if their real names are used.

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    12. 12:42, you mean Steve Sanson?

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    13. I have known Heidi since before she took the bench. She was always a passionate advocate for whomever she represented, on both sides of the law. I was enthused when she took the bench and she was quite good in the beginning. HOWEVER, after a couple of years Judge Almase became infected with black robe fever. If you ever have the audacity to challenge her rulings, EVEN WHEN YOU ARE 100% CORRECT, your client will be punished for your transgression. Additionally, mistakes that are made; be they scheduling, sentencing, whatever are NEVER her fault and if it is inescapably her fault, then somebody one her staff's head is going to roll. She is on her third JEA in six years when everybody else who has been there longer is still on their first with one exception, and he's on his second in 10 years. She is verbally abusive and she takes out her moods on individuals who appear in front of her. I am not Cara Campbell, I do not work on her behalf, I do know her and find her to be a much more even tempered individual and I think that will be reflected in her position on the bench. I am not saying that defendants need to get a pass, but do not take away somebody's liberty for an extended period of time if 1. the facts do not deserve the time and 2. your mood is affecting your ruling.

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    14. 12:30 - well stated. I had the exact same thought but until you stated it directly it was just an impression. Not sure, apart from those generated by the campaign, issues existed with Almase. I thought she was well thought of.

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    15. 20+ year practitioner here. I've practiced in Municipal Court more than most (but can't give more details without compromising my anonymity). I've not once had an experience with Judge Almase like those which 1:16 describes. I've always found her to be fair and reasonable. She can be stern when necessary but without loss of humanity. No signs of "black robe fever" whatsoever. I adore Cara, I've known her for years, but I see no reason to oust the incumbent.

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    16. Shut up Craig.

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  5. Almase is not a "solid incumbent." Her staff doesn't even like her. She is rude and demeaning.

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  6. This banter makes me laugh. It shows the maturity level of the posters.
    It is way worse on one side than the other.

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    1. Agree wholeheartedly. I cringe when I read these childish attacks. I'm embarrassed for Campbell if these are the voters she attracts. That assumes she's not posting the comments herself, which would also reflect poorly on her campaign.

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  7. They both seem well-qualified, and I don't appear in that court, so presumptively I'm voting for the incumbent unless someone gives me a good reason not to. I haven't seen that yet.

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  8. Criminal Defense attorney here...Almase is fine. No reason to vote her out. Campbell will be fine if she wins. This race is annoying. Way too much hoopla for an LVMC race.

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  9. I agree that the race is annoying, and that there is far too much hoopla.

    But I'm not certain that I 100% agree with the implication that significant attention and focus is unjustified merely because it is a lower court, rather than District Court.

    Keep in mind that a lot of practitioners appear in Justice Courts and Municipal Courts on a more consistent basis(for misdemeanor representation, etc.) than they appear in District Court.

    Lots of action in the lower courts, and some criminal defense attorneys view the lower courts as the life blood of their practice, and generate far more volume of clients, and far more money, than they generate from the relatively few case they may have in District Court.

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  10. @11:20. Thank you for your well meaning inquiry into the Almase/Campbell race. I concur with you that many of the posts on here are for entertainment purposes, not particularly helpful and mean spirited. I do have some insight for you that may help you make your decision.

    I am one of the dozen or so criminal practitioners who originally approached Cara about running against Almase. Yes, my name is included on the list of lawyers who will openly support her against an incumbent judge. When Almase was elected there weren't any issues with her. She wasn't known as a great lawyer, nor did she have enemies. She was just kind of there. I am pretty sure that had she not drastically changed she wouldn't have drawn more than the perennial candidate in this race.

    Unfortunately she did change however. The "power" of the bench went straight to her head. She became unpredictable on the bench. She would often take long breaks without explanation with lawyers waiting for their cases to be called. She would stand in the back of the Courtroom in her robe talking socially with friends while litigants and witnesses sat there for extended periods of time. More troubling, she routinely mistreats people. She has been rude and condescending to staff in the presence of others to the point that everyone in the courtroom is uncomfortable. She yells at lawyers who disagree with her in front of their clients. I have had colleagues lose clients because of the way she talks to their attorneys. In one situation that is well known in the criminal bar, she filed a bar complaint against a lawyer who told her he disagreed with her ruling and asked her to reconsider. Most alarming, she is not fair to criminal defendants that appear in front of her. She punishes them with harsh sentences when they litigate their cases. The big joke in muni court is that she has never found a defendant represented by a public defender not guilty. It became unbearable. That is why several of us decided to support a candidate to run against her. We asked Cara to run repeatedly over several months before she said yes. I do not have first hand knowledge but I have been told that other judges asked her to do the same.

    I am sure that if I say anything positive about Cara here I'll be accused of being Cara. I'm not. But I have known her since I started practicing almost twenty years ago. Every criminal attorney on both sides of the room, prosecution and defense, knows her. That's why we asked her. She is nice, fair and experienced. She treats people with respect. She is not some superstar, take everything to trial, big mouthed jerk who thinks they know everything like a lot of lawyers are. She isn't some glory hawk in the D.A.'s office trying to further her career or get on television. She doesn't want the limelight and doesn't have an ego. She is just a really nice, well liked person who is probably overqualified for the job. It would be a shame if any of the "Heidi sucks" meaningless banter on this board were attributed to Cara because she doesn't talk that way and isn't mean to anyone. She is just the right kind of person to be on the municipal court bench. We are glad she said yes and we have supported her financially and with votes. That's why she has done well and why you should consider voting for her. Make up your own mind but people have asked why Cara has such good support against an incumbent and that's why. I am of the personal opinion that incumbents shouldn't just get a pass. If they do, they turn into what Almase has become. If Heidi wins so be it. Unpopular judges have won before and we are all ok, but if Cara wins I don't think six years from now we will be talking about how she changed or should be voted out.

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    1. Great insight, thank you 3:32. Genuine question though. If you are one who "openly" supports Cara, why post anonymously? You're already listed publicly as a campaign supporter. Why not use your name and be proud to post? The pro-Campbell ranter yesterday was begging Almase supporters to out themselves, but no one supporting Cara has done it here either.

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    2. 3:32- Oh, Tomsheck. You're so transparent.

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    3. To:3:32. It's 11:20 here, and thank you very much for taking the time and effort to offer sound reasons as to why one candidate should be selected over the other. It is refreshing to see this type of thoughtful analysis, rather than the mean-spirited name-calling, and flippant unhelpful remarks, which tend to dominate this blog.

      You have persuaded me, and I will likewise make my recommendation to the surprising number of people who ask for my viewpoint They don't ask because I am particularly bright, but simply based on the mundane reason that I belong to a fair number of clubs and organizations, and people ask me who they should vote for in the judicial elections because they are aware I am in the legal profession. And they, in turn, will also spread such recommendations to family, friends and others. And this means that sometimes persuading one person to vote for a candidate, can actually mobilize into scores of votes--which often makes a difference in very low turn out Municipal elections--like this one will be.

      Although you ultimately persuaded and convinced me,I must point out, however, that your arguments not to support Heidi, sound a lot more well-reasoned, insightful and convincing, than your reasons to vote for Cara.

      You speak with real specifics of Heidi's negative trajectory, and how this evolution(or de-evolution) had the effect of eroding her decency, fairness and compassion, and how the greatly increased arrogance and self-absorption has resulted in the totally unjustified humiliation of lawyers, unfairness to their clients, which result in clients losing faith in their attorneys, which profoundly impacts lawyers in that such clients will fire them, not pay them the balance, not refer anyone else to the lawyer, etc.(and referrals are still the life blood of most attorneys).

      Yet following this perceptive, highly intelligent analysis wherein you deconstruct the situation from top to bottom, and make a very compelling case not to vote for Heidi, I was almost stunned that the same person would then offer an almost vapid, myopic analysis of why to support Cara.

      You are, obviously, based on your discussion of Heidi's descent, a student of human behavior and its myriad complexities. I would not be surprised if you have read Dostoevsky.

      And for that reason, your portrayal of Cara as some altruistic, noble, cardboard, one-dimensional hero, totally lacking in ego but solely motivated to take on this battle to save us all from callous exploitation and random abuse, at times boarders on the ludicrous.

      However, on balance, your argument to not support Heidi is so
      convincing and compelling(and hits so close to home) that you have persuaded me regardless of the quality of the arguments you offer in support of Cara. And I bet a lot of others feel the same way.

      As an aside, there is one part of your discussion in support of Cara that is really worthy of fuller discussion. If she is in fact that grounded and humble, and you essentially concede Heidi apparently was as well when she took the bench, we don't really have any guarantees do we, what happened to Heidi will not happen to Cara.

      Both you and I would not just need the digits on our hands, but would need those on our feet as well, to count all the people who seemed nice and decent when they took the bench, but who no longer were so a few years down the road.

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  11. I support Campbell.

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  12. 1:16 here. I too am on Cara's letterhead and I would love to post openly, but in order to be completely honest in my post I cannot identify myself. Like I said, I do like Heidi as a person, but she holds significant grudges and I cannot allow my honesty to affect my clients. So while people might think I am being flippant, or openly campaigning for Cara, I am doing neither. I tried, however inartfully, to give a complete picture of both candidates but I cannot do so at the expense of current and future clients.

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  13. Hold the telex, saying your support someone is mean spirited. Laughing, can we talk about more interesting things, like what judges have black robe syndrome, because they are so few and far between.

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    1. Not a Susan Johnson fan, but at least she doesn't treat lawyers like shit.

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    2. I have seen her treat lawyers worse than any other judge.

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    3. Worse than Bulla? What is her problem? Wow!

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    4. All I want to know is what is the best vehicle for me to kiss some judicial ass. CCBA? Kiwani's? Dave Thomas?

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    5. This posts are making me laugh. Thank you.

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  14. I am writing in Adam Kutner for LV Muni Court.

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    1. I would pick him over some of our precious Justice Court pro-tem gems.

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  15. Who cares who the Muni Court Judge is? Other than what appears to be both Tomsheck and Almase apparently going back and forth, anonymously on both ends, for the last three days on this blog what does this really matter? If it is not them then it sure seems like it, or someone with an infatuation for the other. Seems like both should get back to work, or find a hobby. I am tired of both of them or their supporters, or parents, or whomever are the 5 people in town who care about this race. Let's talk about something important. New topic! Who has something either fun or important to discuss?

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    1. I realize it may seem boring to some, and with too much emphasis placed on it, but a fair number of lawyers derive their chief income from representing clients in the lower courts.

      So, for the days leading up to the election, some lawyers will validly remain quite concerned as to who will ultimately be chosen, and discuss the matter.

      Once that passes, as you suggest perhaps more cerebral issues of legal import will be the focus. But whether there is an upcoming judicial election or not, there are not always looming issues of profound legal import that are more important to lawyers than making a decent living representing clients. And it becomes difficult to effectively represent clients, and to get paid, if the wrong people serve on the bench--people who may unjustifiably demean attorneys in front of their clients.

      So, although I understand and respect your view on this, I do think that we in the legal profession should be concerned about the quality and character of the men and women who will serve as judges.

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  16. I am going to start a beer pong game to these hilarious posts. I drink to Almase...drinking an ale. Let me think of a drink for Campbell...

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  17. Jello shots, those are for Alexis Plunkett's crea crea....

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  18. Campbell, coors lite....because she will win the election...

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  19. Pabst blue ribbon for the judges who treat attorneys like shit...

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  20. Zima for the OBC and the board of governors....

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    1. Jim Jones Kool-Aid for the OBC

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    2. Zima? Man, you're really dating yourself.

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    3. How do you like your Zima?

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    4. With the cucumber slightly bruised

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  21. I've got one more...Bartles and James for all of the ass kissers to the judges, you know who you are....

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  22. We need a drink of choice for Adam Laxalt

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    1. Russian Vodka picked personally by Jared
      Vlad" Kushner, made of potato skins.

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    2. Liquid Ex-Lax(alt)

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  23. Kudos Alexis, you are halfway there.

    "If you're facing criminal charges, please do as I say and not as I do and keep calm! I understand what you're going through and I can help you. Call me at xxxxx" Now stop posting at all!

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  24. Blog is dead. Not a single post today (Monday).

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  25. How can NO ONE have mentioned that ABSOLUTE irony that is Kim Farmer moving the State Bar out of 600 E. Charleston and it becoming a Horror Museum. Nothing like the Wengert House being a shitshow and then a museum with serial killer artifacts. Wonder if they will have a display about the dues that were killed in that building?

    https://living-las-vegas.com/2017/03/haunted-museum-coming-soon/

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    1. No one mentioned it because people like you would attempt to make dumb and unfunny jokes.

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  26. Replies
    1. Yep to which of the above comments?

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  27. I have a client who needs a good criminal defense lawyer in San Diego. Any recommendations?

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