It may have been expected, but nevertheless the death of well known Las Vegas criminal defense attorney John Joseph Momot was a shock to his large number of colleagues, clients and friends. Thispopular defense attorney had developed a reputation like none other throughout the years.
Momot had been ill for some time, but even with his green oxygen tank, his impeccable dress and amicable self, always well respected, was seen daily at the Regional Justice Center, serving and protecting his clients.
He had built a reputation equal to none, was respected and even admired by judges, attorneys on both sides, and court personnel; in fact, all the people we’ve spoken to about this admirable attorney praised him. John Momot was probably the most loved and respected member of the legal community and the Las Vegas community in general.
Another famous Las Vegas criminal defense attorney and a former Las Vegas Mayor, Oscar Goodman, told Las Vegas Tribune, “John was the consummate professional, always placing his client’s best interest at the fore. He was tenacious and fearless in his representation of the downtrodden and underdogs. Loyal and selfless to a fault.”
Goodman and Momot shared the fame and spotlight of the golden era of Las Vegas for many years, defending famous and not so famous clients equally, becoming the dream attorneys that everyone wished to have.
John suffered the maximum pain of losing his son Joseph, named after his dear brother Joe, at the young age of 43, but no one ever saw his pain reflected in his work or in his dealing with the many legal cases his office handled.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman stated, “John was a longtime friend and member of our extended family who will be missed. He was a fine, caring lawyer and a devoted family man.”
Las Vegas Justice Court Judge Joseph Sciscento, via telephone, told the Las Vegas Tribune: “John was always known and seen as ‘the lawyer’s lawyer.’ I remember when I first started practicing law, he was bigger than life in the legal community. He commanded respect in the courtroom, not by yelling or theatrics, but by his knowledge of the law and professional demeanor. I will miss John as a friend and
one of the sharpest dressed attorneys in Las Vegas. One thing that makes me smile is realizing that John will be advocating for the downtrodden and wayward souls at the pearly gates. Saint Peter, you have met your match.”
Municipal Court Judge Cedric Kerns: “John was respected by
prosecutors, defense and the bench. He was always professional and on point. Las Vegas lost a great man and great attorney.”
Most recently John showed his professionalism and caring for the judicial system when he placed his name to be appointed to the bench, but later withdraw his name when he learned of his illness because he did not want to win the appointment and then, if anything happened to him, the court would have to start all over again to find a replacement for his position.
Many attorneys and today’s judges have worked with John Momot and many have been tutored, lectured and supported by him; one that comes to mind is Justice Court Judge Amy Chellini, who was “too busy running errands” to respond to Las Vegas Tribune’s request to make a comment on her friend and mentor’s death.
Municipal Court Judge Bert M. Brown called the Las Vegas Tribune office and gave a memorable opinion of John Momot, who died last week at the age of 74; “It was with great sadness hearing of the loss of John Momot. He was one of my favorites. He was well respected by both prosecutors and defense attorneys. Often, I would see John counseling a younger attorney on the best way to handle an issue. He was always polite and humble. I will miss him.”
Senior District Court Judge Joe Bonaventure Sr. remembers John Momot from their days as Public Defenders back in 1972, before each of them took a different path: “John took private practice, turning into a very good defense attorney, and I took public service,” reminisced Judge Bonaventure Sr., who became one of the best and most respected jurists of our times.
“John was from New Jersey and I am from New York so we became good friends and maintained that friendship all along,” stated Judge Bonaventure during a pleasant surprise telephone call to the Las Vegas Tribune.
This writer had the opportunity of being welcome at John Momot’s office on many occasions, when we exchanged old-time stories and recent courthouse news; we also strolled the food aisles of the Rancho and Charleston Smith Food Center together while we each shopped. Speaking with John Momot — or even better, listening to John Momot — was like receiving knowledge that cannot be learned in any university
or law school.
Momot played the role of himself in the 1995 Martin Scorsese film “Casino,” and in real life was part of the Las Vegas ‘trial of the century’ while on the defense team during the Teddy Binion murder case. He also defended Margaret Rudin in her well publicized trial when she was accused of the death of her husband.
Funeral arrangements were not available at the time of this writing, but as soon as they are made public, the Las Vegas Tribune will post those arrangements on the newspaper’s website, www.lasvegastribune.com.