People with really difficult jobs, like medical doctors and engineers, are held legally liable when they mess up. They are held criminally responsible when they willfully cause damage.
So, why the exemption for justice system insiders? Why are police and district attorneys not held personally libel or criminally responsible for their misconduct?
The core problems of our system: ELECTED officials in Law Enforcement and the Judiciary! The moment they are elected, their only goal in life is to get re-elected, no matter what.
Nineteen year-old Kirstin Blaise Lobato was convicted in May 2002 of murdering 44-year-old Duran Bailey, a homeless Las Vegas man who was beaten, stabbed and sexually mutilated on July 8, 2001. She was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years in prison. Yet multiple witnesses confirm that on the day of the man’s death Kirstin was in Panaca, Nevada, 170 miles from Las Vegas.
On July 2, 2002, Kirstin was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison for her conviction of Bailey’s murder, and a 5-year concurrent sentence for her conviction of sexual penetration of a dead body.
Judge Valerie Vega then added a 20-year sentence to be served consecutively, based on her determination that since Bailey was stabbed with a knife, the deadly weapon enhancement applied. So Kirstin’s sentence was to serve a minimum of 40 years before becoming eligible for parole, at the age of 59.
Judge Vega is very well known for assuming and imposing her own opinion, even if it is wrong instead of right. I remember the time on a civil case when the defendant in the case stated that the signature stamped on a document was not her signature, but Judge Vega told the woman that she believed it was, and that was that. In fact, it was not the woman’s signature.
The people of Clark County, Nevada are blessed with the knowledge that Judge Valorie Vega, after 25 years on the bench destroying peoples’ lives, will not seek reelection after her term expires in January 2015.
On September 3, 2004 the Nevada Supreme Court reversed Kirstin’s conviction and remanded her case for a new trial. The reversal was based on Judge Vega’s failure to allow Kirstin’s lawyers to cross-examine inmate Korinda Martin about letters suggesting leniency that she wanted sent to her sentencing judge. The Supreme Court characterized Martin as the State’s “star witness,” and noted, “The proffered letters and extrinsic evidence relating to them confirmed Martin’s desperation to obtain an early release from incarceration and her willingness to adopt a fraudulent course of action to achieve that goal.”
The Court also ruled that it was prejudicial error for Judge Vega to bar Kirstin’s lawyers from examining Brenda Self about the letters, as well as introducing the letters themselves.
Having found sufficient grounds to reverse Kirstin’s conviction, the Court didn’t rule on the issues of Judge Vega’s barring of exculpatory expert and alibi testimony. The Court implied any such errors could be cured during Kirstin’s retrial.
A bail hearing was held on October 28, 2004, to determine if Kirstin could be released on bail pending her retrial. Judge Vega set her bail at $500,000 in cash or equivalent assets. Although the reversal of Kirstin’s conviction means she is once again shielded by the presumption of innocence, that bail is ten times her $50,000 pre-trial bail.
Kirstin’s family has no monetary means to post such a large bail, another proof of the evil instincts of Judge Valorie Vega.
The Innocence Project, an organization that has freed hundreds of wrongly convicted prisoners, has offered to underwrite DNA testing in the Lobato case. Kirstin’s supporters hope some piece of cellular detritus, a scrap of a genetic fingerprint, will blow the old case wide open again.
Deputy District Attorney Steven Owen has denied Kirstin the possibility of DNA testing of 13 pieces of evidence in her case that have not been tested.
Why would he not release DNA to be tested when it could prevent this innocent person from spending her life in jail? Wolfson doesn’t want to admit that this injustice is happening on his watch. DNA testing has not only advanced in the last five years, it’s become so widespread that databases contain the genetic material of thousands of convicted criminals.
This year is election time for all judiciary. I believe we all should be educated on the qualifications of judges to avoid the incarceration of more innocent people, the spreading miscarriage of justice, and ending up with more judges like Valorie Vega. Let’s vote them all out; they are useless.
Perly Viasmensky is the General Manager of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Perly Viasmensky, email her at pviasmensky@lasvegas tribune.com.