New trial granted for Nevada death row inmate

By Perly Viasmensky
Las Vegas Tribune

Judge Leavitt granted a post-conviction relief to 79-year-old death row inmate John M. Watson

Last week Clark County District Court Judge Michelle Leavitt granted a post-conviction relief to 79-year-old death row inmate John M. Watson after his Las Vegas attorney, Jamie Resch, founder of the Las Vegas law firm Conviction Solutions, presented paperwork showing the trial lawyer’s unauthorized concession of guilt on Watson’s behalf during closing arguments, even if Watson maintained his innocence throughout his 2010 trial. Pursuant to an order filed, Judge Leavitt ordered Watson’s conviction and death sentence overturned and that Watson must receive a new trial. Watson, a longtime California resident and school math teacher, was accused of kidnapping and murdering his wife who disappeared in 2006. A Las Vegas jury sentenced Watson to death in 2010.
In the post-conviction filing, Watson alleged among other claims that his trial lawyer conceded guilt to the murder charge without his knowledge and without his permission.
This is the second death sentence the law firm of Jamie Resch, dba Conviction Solutions, has overturned in the last year. Last June this newspaper reported when attorney Jamie Resch helped inmate Frederick Mendoza, age 71, reach a deal with prosecutors to reduce his death sentence to life in prison without parole.
Jamie Resch has successfully presented criminal post-conviction and appellate matters to the Nevada Supreme Court, United States District Court, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and even the United States Supreme Court. He has presented oral arguments to various criminal appeals. In addition, Jamie Resch is an experienced trial attorney and prosecutor, as he has successfully handled criminal cases throughout the State of Nevada, which involved everything from trespassing all the way through sexual offenses and murder. Many of his cases involved state employees or public officials, which thereby featured many unique and sensitive aspects.
Las Vegas is a city that has become known as the city where one comes on vacation and leaves on probation, in part because of the lack of efficient legal defense where most attorneys first legal advice is “plead guilty and get it over with” regardless of whether the
defendant is guilty or not.
A young woman sits in a federal holding tank when a court-appointed defense attorney walks in and, despite never meeting the young defendant, assured her “you and I both know you are guilty; plead guilty and save everyone time and effort.”
Another case in mind is when a young black Hispanic man got in trouble in Las Vegas while attending a convention and his mother sent a local attorney $10,000.00 as retainer; the attorney sent an assistant to the Clark County Detention Center to tell the young computer engineer to “plead guilty and get it over with.”
There is a case where a hard-working father got in debt to give a supposedly famous attorney $80,000 retainer and on the date of court, the attorney walked into the courtroom “paging” his client, because he never made time to go to the county jail to meet with the defendant, his supposed client, and when the father who handed him the white envelope with the $80,000 questioned his behavior, he simply said,
“You are not my client, your son is; I don’t have to answer to you.” While technically it was true, and the decision to accept a plea
bargain was up to the son, the fact is that the son has no means to raise that kind of money or even the intelligence to make a decision of that caliber on his own behalf.
The Las Vegas Tribune has a file cabinet full of cases like those above where the alleged defense attorney would suggest, advise,
recommend and even force the client to accept the plea bargain offer that either the prosecutor has offered or the defense attorney expects from the new client.
It is the newspaper’s experience that only on rare occasions defendants would walk out of the courthouse as free persons because
the prosecutors do not accept the fact that in many cases the defendant may be innocent, or may be a victim of entrapment by corrupt police officers or sloppy police work.
That is how it is with private practice attorneys, attorneys that get paid cold cash for their services; now imagine what can happen with the Public Defenders where both the prosecutors and the public defenders get paid by the same source — the injustice is almost
incalculable; in all the years of publication, the Las Vegas Tribune can count on the fingers of one hand when the Public Defender really defended a client.

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