By Hans Sherrer
Special to the Las Vegas Tribune
Evidence has been discovered that Clark County District Attorney Steven Wolfson lied to the Nevada Supreme Court when he said he doesn’t have a “Liar’s List” of dishonest cops. Wolfson denied he has a “Liar’s List,” as a defense to one of Kirstin Lobato’s claims for a new trial in her habeas corpus appeal currently in the Supreme Court.
Wolfson’s lie to the Supreme Court in Ms. Lobato’s case was recently revealed by his admission in an unrelated lawsuit that the “Liar’s List” exists.
Metro PD Officer Christopher Cooney filed a lawsuit in Clark County District Court on June 27, 2016 that claims he was defamed by being placed on the DA’s Giglio/Brady list of dishonest cops, aka the “Liar’s List.” The defendants in Cooney v. Metro, et. al, are the DA’s Office, one current and two former Assistant DA’s, Metro, and several unnamed others.
Wolfson admits the “Liar’s List” exists in the DA’s Motion To Dismiss Cooney’s lawsuit. The motion was filed on October 18, 2016. Wolfson’s defense in seeking to dismiss Cooney’s lawsuit is absolute prosecutor immunity shields the DA’s Office and the three ADAs from civil liability for placing Cooney on the DA’s Giglio/Brady list of dishonest cops. Wolfson also admits the “Liar’s List” is discovery evidence for criminal defendants “involving constitutional obligations imposed by the Supreme Court.”
In May 2010 Ms. Lobato filed a habeas corpus petition in the Clark County District Court that requested the overturning of her October 2006 convictions related to the homicide of homeless Duran Bailey on July 8, 2001. Ms. Lobato’s alibi defense was she was at her home in Panaca, 165 miles from Las Vegas, when Bailey died in the trash enclosure for a Las Vegas bank. Metro Det. Thomas Thowsen was a key prosecution witness. Ms. Lobato’s habeas petition Ground 58 states: Petitioner was denied effective assistance of counsel in violation of the Nevada Constitution and the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and prejudiced by counsel’s objectively unreasonable
failure to file a pretrial motion for the prosecution to disclose if Detective Thomas Thowsen was on the Clark County District Attorney Office’s “Liar’s List” of law enforcement officers known to have given false and/or perjurious testimony or false sworn statements in connection with any case… because the prosecution’s case hinged on the jury believing that Thowsen was telling the truth, the information was relevant and discoverable …”
David Roger was the Clark County DA when Ms. Lobato filed her habeas petition. Roger’s defense to Ground 58 in the District Court was Ms. Lobato’s “bare” assertion wasn’t truthful the DA has a “Liar’s List” that could have been turned over to her trial lawyer if he had requested it. Acting as Roger’s representative, ADA William Kephart wrote the false assertions about the “Liar’s List” presented in the State’s Response to Ms. Lobato’s petition. Kephart also signed the State’s Response filed in the District Court on August 20, 2010.
District Court Judge Valorie Vega relied on Rogers and Kephart’s dishonesty about the DA’s “Liar’s List,” when she denied Ms. Lobato’s Ground 58. Ms. Lobato appealed Judge Vega’s denial of her habeas petition to the Nevada Supreme Court. Wolfson was appointed DA in January 2012. Wolfson’s defense to Ground 58 in the Supreme Court was that Ms. Lobato’s “bare” assertion wasn’t truthful that the DA has a “Liar’s List” that could have been turned over to her trial lawyer if he had requested it. Acting as Wolfson’s representative, ADA Steven Owens wrote the false assertions about the “Liar’s List” presented in the State’s Answering Brief. Owens also signed that brief filed in the Supreme Court on July 6, 2012. Wolfson’s admission on October 18 in the Cooney case that the “Liar’s List” exists, exposes that while acting on behalf of the State of Nevada, Rogers and Kephart lied to Judge Vega in the District Court, and Wolfson and Owens lied to each of the Supreme Court’s justices that the “Liar’s List” doesn’t exist. The DA’s Office is acting in conjunction with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office in opposing Ms. Lobato’s petition. So Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto colluded with the DA in lying to Judge Vega, and then to each of the Supreme Court justices about the DA’s “Liar’s List.” On November 8, 2016 Cortez Masto was elected as a United States Senator from Nevada.
The Supreme Court can sanction the State of Nevada for Wolfson, Owens, and Masto’s blatant lying about the DA’s “Liar’s List” by striking the State’s defense to Ms. Lobato’s Ground 58 under NRAP Rule 28(j). The Supreme Court could then grant Ground 58 as unopposed by the State of Nevada, and order a new trial for Ms. Lobato.
The State Bar of Nevada can sanction Rogers, Kephart and Masto for engaging in extreme dishonesty to influence the District Court’s decision; and Wolfson, Owens and Masto can be sanctioned for engaging in extreme dishonesty to influence the Supreme Court’s decision in Ms. Lobato’s case. Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 8.4 states: “It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: “(a) Violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another; (c) Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; (d) Engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”
The discovery of evidence that Kephart lied in the District Court may have implications for him beyond possible State Bar sanctions. Kephart left the DA’s Office, and he is currently a judge in the very court he lied to — the Clark County District Court.
It is not known why the DA and AG lied to conceal the “Liar’s List” from Judge Vega, and then from the Supreme Court justices. What is known, is truthfully disclosing the existence of the “Liar’s List” to Judge Vega and the Supreme Court justices would only hurt the State’s defense against Ms. Lobato’s habeas petition if Det. Thowsen had been on the list. (Thowsen is now retired.)
Without benefit of knowing Wolfson, Owens, Rogers, Kephart and Masto lied about the “Liar’s List,” the Supreme Court did not grant Ground 58 in its November 23, 2016 ruling in Ms. Lobato’s habeas case. Her case was sent back to the District Court for a limited evidentiary hearing and proceedings concerning her actual innocence claim. That ruling is not yet final.
The Supreme Court has the authority to act on its own initiative to correct the injustice of rewarding DA Wolfson, AG Masto, and the State of Nevada for their extreme dishonesty. The Supreme Court can revise its ruling by granting Ground 58, and order that Ms. Lobato be granted a new trial in light of the new evidence the justices were deliberately lied to in order to manipulate their decision.
The existence of the “Liar’s List” was exposed in an article about the Cooney case in a Las Vegas Tribune article published on September 27, 2016, “Lawsuits Against Metro’s Phony Leaders.”
* * * * *
Hans Sherrer is President of the Justice Institute based in Seattle, Washington that conducted a post-conviction investigation of Ms. Lobato’s case. The Justice Institute promotes awareness of wrongful convictions, and maintains the world’s largest database of exonerated persons. Its website is, www.justicedenied.org.