The report details that LVMPD initiated the investigation by contacting the staff attorney for the Clark County courts, attorney Jillian Prieto. Attorney Prieto advised LVMPD that Eighth Judicial District Court Family Division takes pictures of victims’ batteries for documentation in Temporary Protection Order case files. Attorney Prieto also advised those pictures were destroyed by Wendy Wilkinson, a clerk of the court.
After learning of Clerk Wilkinson’s destruction of evidence of abuse victims, LVMPD contacted Wendy Wilkinson. Ms. Wilkinson conceded to the destruction, detailing how she destroyed the victim’s evidence.
Ms. Wilkinson’s shredding the evidence did not explain why she shred the evidence. When asked, Ms. Wilkinson volunteered she shred the evidence because the evidence is “the property of the family courts.”
A review of the victims’ files shows no photographs of batteries to the victims. Inserted into the cases’ files, in lieu of the photographs, was one of two documents. They read: “This Document Has Illegible Copies” and “This File Has Pages That Are Illegible Upon Receipt Of The Filing Of The Document. Pages are Scanned/Filmed At The Best Quality Achieved At This Time.”
The Clark County Justice Courts, under the legal counsel of staff attorney Joseph Tommasino, proceed differently than District Courts. Justice Court files do not contain the inserts in lieu of photographs because Temporary Protection Order case files are destroyed under State of Nevada Supreme Court Minimum Records Retention Schedule for Justice Courts. Rule 31 of the Schedule establishes the file only be kept for two years.
Why destroy criminal evidence at all?
June 3, 2010, then Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Hardesty and Justice Cherry met with Clark County courts’ attorneys Joseph Tommasino and Jillian Prieto in a public forum.
The public expressed their concerns over the District and Justice courts destroying evidence of abuse to victims. The evidence destroyed included pictures of batteries to children. Without the picture evidence of the battered children, children were court-ordered to their abusers by both the District and Justice courts.
The meeting resulted in attorneys Tommasino and Prieto named to a subcommittee. Both, however, gave no testimony to either the destruction of child abuse case files or the destruction of photographs of batteries to the children.
State of Nevada Attorney General Steps In
In 2013, Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto sponsored SB (Senate Bill) 27. In that same year the Nevada Administrative Offices of the Courts sponsored SB 57. The two bills merged and were passed into law effective July 2013.
The amended law provides for the Attorney General to provide defense counsel for the numerous government persons who know of Clerk
Wilkinson’s destruction of evidence.
Prior to the signing of merged SB 27 and 57 into law, attorneys Prieto and Tommasino qualified to provide defense counsel to the government employees. Either way, attorney Prieto will not be serving as counsel and she has left the employ of the Clark County courts.employees