One of them is the case of Robert Hays, who was wrongfully accused and convicted in 1993 on eight counts of sexually abusing his 8-year-old daughter. He received four consecutive life terms for a crime he vehemently denied.
His little girl tried to reach out to the prosecutor, Thomas Moreo, to recant her testimony, explaining that her mother forced her to watch pornographic movies telling her to say that was what her father was doing to her. But it was to no avail; prosecutor Thomas Moreo refused to take her testimony.
Robert Hays remained in the Nevada State prison in protective custody for his refusal to admit that the allegations were true. Paroles continue to be denied, because when someone does not admit to his or her guilt, or show that they have rehabilitated within the system, they would continue being incarcerated.
After 14 years Robert Hays was released from prison after a federal judge determined he was wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing his daughter. Robert Hays filed a lawsuit against key players in the case, including prosecutor Thomas Moreo and public defender Drew Christensen, who represented Robert Hays; Gary Jacobsen, a detective with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department; and Rene Mc Clymont
Butts, a nurse practitioner hired by the District Attorney’s office, who was supposed to be an expert in child abuse cases.
The lawsuit seeks damages from Clark County and at least four other defendants based on claims that his constitutional rights were violated and that he was a victim of malicious prosecution.
Every time an innocent person is released from prison from crimes they did not commit, it cost taxpayers hundred of thousands of dollars (if not millions). Think about the case of Roberto Miranda (a Cuban national) who spent 14 years on death row for a crime he never committed. This has nothing to do with sexual abuse or sexual molestation, it was a case of murder, a murder he had never committed.
Nevertheless, he was a wrongfully accused man. Miranda had argued that the county public defender’s office did not properly represent him and upon his exoneration and release he sued Clark County and won a $5 million settlement.
If public defenders would work with their hearts to defend those people they are supposed to represent and especially the ones who firmly claim they are totally innocent, taxpayers would be saving lots of money.
Lets continue with sexual molestation cases: Manuel Melendez is doing time in a Nevada prison because his ex-wife accused him of molesting her minor granddaughter who was under her care, while the mother of the child was not available to care for her child.
When the child’s mother came back and found out what had happened, she started investigating and realized the grandmother — the defendant’s now ex wife — had created a scenario when Melendez told her he was leaving her and filed for a divorce.
The mother of the “supposedly molested” child testified in court before the presiding judge, James Bixler, and said that her mother has a pattern of accusing people of child molestation and even tried to do that when her father was divorcing her mother.
“My mother tried to convince us that our father had molested us, but we have no recollection of such a thing,” the child’s mother told the court on behalf of Manuel Melendez.
Manuel Melendez is doing time for a crime he never committed. Why? Because people with very little recourses depend on the services of the Clark County public defenders without knowing that they are not defense attorneys willing to fight for the innocence of their clients.
Actually, they don’t care if the client is innocent or guilty; they only receive their paycheck at the end of the week, paid by us taxpayers.
Another case of miscarriage of justice is the case of Francisco Silva, sentenced to several life sentences for crimes for lewdness and sexual assault of his sister-in-law, Anali Sosa, a child 12-years-old at the time of the incident. Crimes that he insisted he never committed.
Francisco and his common-law wife with their infant child were living at his in-laws’ home. His father-in-law, Jorge Sosa, asked Francisco to move in with them since his home was paid in full and he didn’t have to spend any money on rent. Still, his mother-in-law, Esperanza Ramos was charging him rent (without the knowledge of her husband Jorge).
The living situation was not a pleasant one and Francisco told his mother-in-law when he gave her the rent money that it was the last month because he had decided to move his family to an apartment.
Esperanza was not happy about losing that extra money she was receiving from Francisco and gave him a warning that if he ever moves out she would call the police on him.
Esperanza was true to her threats and one night police came to the home to arrest Francisco for sexual molestation of his sister-in-law for the last two years.
His “wife” paid bail and he got out of jail. His mother-in-law went to see Francisco, after the girl confessed to her father that it was not true, that her mother had told her to say that. Esperanza told him that she wanted to rectify the situation but that she didn’t want to go to jail for lying to the police. According to Francisco she went with a Notary Public and made a confession of her false statement.
At the time Francisco hired the services of attorney David Phillips. After he was sentenced to eight life sentences by jury, Mr. Phillips filed an appeal on behalf of Francisco Silva. District Court Judge Valerie Adair denied Francisco an evidentiary hearing on the issue of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel’s performance. After the pro per writ and supplement were filed, Judge Adair determined that an evidentiary hearing was not warranted.
Francisco Silva now has a new attorney hoping for a long-awaited result on his justice denied.
So much for JUSTICE FOR ALL.
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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.