Judge Hafen Has Completely Lost It; Excluded Murder Victims’ Family From Court; Threatens to Arrest Reporter

Las Vegas Judge Hafen Straight JacketPreviously, I’ve done a number of stories (See related posts section below) on the train-wreck that Judge Hafen, a soon to be former Las Vegas Justice of the Peace has become over the past several months.

The downward spiral began (and has mostly revolved around) when he ordered Zohra Bakhtary, deputy public defender, to be handcuffed in the courtroom while she was attempting to defend a client, which according to him was intended to “teach her a lesson.”

As a result, hundreds of public defenders across the country criticized Hafen and a local union that represents over 100 defense attorneys also filed a formal letter of complaint against the judge. Not long after the incident, local voters also displayed their displeasure with Judge Hafen when he lost in the primary elections overwhelmingly. In addition, earlier this month the contempt charges Hafen had filed against Bakhtary for the courtroom incident were thrown out by another judge.

Now, with this latest twist in the bizarre road he seems intent on driving down, soon to be Former Judge Hafen has apparently completely lost any sense of proper courtroom procedures and the “decorum” that he has insisted was behind his inappropriate treatment of Bakhtary. In fact, whether it’s bitterness over his electoral loss or just yet another extension of the bullying nature he displayed on the bench that became public during the fallout over the handcuffing incident, he seems like he has pretty much just completely lost it.

Via the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen, who lost his bid for re-election in June after the newspaper reported a series of stories about his decision to handcuff a deputy public defender in his courtroom, also refused to give a Review-Journal photographer access to the courtroom, even though television news cameras were allowed in.

The judge’s marshal specifically instructed the newspaper’s reporter not to use a cellphone in the courtroom for any purpose, even audio recording, which is typically permitted throughout the Regional Justice Center. The marshal said the reporter would be handcuffed and taken into custody if he used the phone. Meanwhile, several others in the courtroom continued to operate cellphones.

“Courts are presumed to be open and obligated to be fair,” said Review-Journal Editor J. Keith Moyer. “The Review-Journal will aggressively contest any attempt to limit public access to our justice system.”

A lawyer for the Review-Journal, Maggie McLetchie, plans to file further court documents asking the judge for camera access at future hearings in the murder case.

“Judge Hafen improperly denied the Review-Journal the ability to take photographs, despite the fact that other people were allowed to take photographs,” McLetchie said. “He improperly denied the ability to audio record, and he also improperly denied the public access to open court proceedings. All these issues are at odds with case law and Supreme Court rules, making clear how important the public and media access to courtrooms and court proceedings are. We hope he changes course so the public and the media have full access to the proceedings.”

Relatives of the two victims, 45-year-old Mario Jimenez and 27-year-old Angelica Jimenez, stood in the hallway outside the courtroom, unsure why they were prohibited from observing the arraignment.

The victims were left to die in a burning east valley home in November. They were zip-tied, duct-taped, stabbed repeatedly and doused in gasoline before being lit on fire, according to an arrest report.

Defendants Malik Watson, 27, Darrin Rafael Wilder, 26, and Hakim Rydell Blanche-Jones, 26, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder, kidnapping, arson, burglary and robbery charges. Las Vegas police said Watson was extradited last week from Philadelphia…

On Tuesday, the judge did not give representatives of the Review-Journal a chance to be heard regarding the use of a camera or cellphone at the hearing.

The Nevada Supreme Court Rules on Electronic Coverage of Court Proceedings address cameras inside courtrooms.

“News reporters desiring permission to provide electronic coverage of a proceeding in the courtroom shall file a written request with the judge at least 24 hours before the proceeding commences, however, the judge may grant such a request on shorter notice or waive the requirement for a written request,” the rules state.

In addition, the rules state that “there is a presumption that all courtroom proceedings that are open to the public are subject to electronic coverage.”

The Review-Journal’s reporter submitted camera access papers to the judge shortly before Tuesday’s hearing.

In denying the newspaper’s request, Hafen wrote that the reporter failed to provide “good cause” for filing the request on short notice.

A Justice Court media request form suggests that the document be filed within 72 hours of a hearing.

The Supreme Court rules also carve out exceptions for the use of cellphones in court.

“It will be understood that these devices will be used only for accurate transcriptions of the court proceedings, and are not to be used for broadcast,” the rules state. “Use of an electronic device without permission, other than as described in this rule, may result in the confiscation of the device.”

Civil rights lawyer Allen Lichtenstein, who is not involved in the case, said Hafen was “wrong on several counts” and that public access to courtrooms helps guarantee fair hearings.

“Secret justice is no justice at all,” Lichtenstein said. “We’ve learned that through history. When the public has the opportunity to see how our system works, it operates as a check on abuse. … The default position is that in this country, our court system should be open for scrutiny.”

One of the things that I did when I designed the Cop Block Press Passes several years ago was research the rules and legalities of press passes and the granting of press access. As is stated in the LVRJ articled quoted above, when it comes to public officials there are clear legal precedents relating to reasons they can exclude people or media organizations from press access. (Press passes themselves are fairly irrelevant to this.)

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They can legally set up certain criteria for who qualifies for press access, however that criteria has to be equally applied across the board. They can’t base whether you will be approved for formal press access solely on arbitrary things such as whether you are a blogger or internet based media representative instead of print or television media. Nor can they base their decision on editorial direction or you having written (or a media organization having published) something critical of them.

Video and photography can also be prohibited when they are deemed to represent some sort of threat to one of the participants in a court case. However, once again that must be applied universally and not just to specific individuals. Obviously, since their were other media representatives that had been approved and were allowed to film and audio record during the proceedings in question that was not the case and it would seem to be a clear case of bias against a reporter from the paper that has been reporting on Judge Hafen’s negative behavior.

So this latest tantrum by Judge Hafen was not just silly and vindictive, but pretty clearly badly at odds with the law and legal precedent. It’s not hard to figure out why he decided he didn’t approve the request for photography rights of a reporter from the Review Journal and then specifically told a court marshal to pace him in handcuffs if he used his cellphone in a manner that media regularly does. And the part where he (for some unexplained reason) barred the relatives of two people who were viciously murdered from observing the trial of the people accused of those murders is even worse and downright disrespectful to them.

Related Posts:

  1. Contempt Charge Against Defense Attorney Who Was Handcuffed in Court by Las Vegas Judge Dismissed
  2. Las Vegas Judge Who Handcuffed Defense Attorney During Trial Taught Lesson by Voters
  3. An Open Letter to Las Vegas Judge Who Handcuffed A Defense Attorney in Court
  4. Las Vegas Judge Has Defense Attorney Handcuffed During Trial to “Teach Her a Lesson”
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California Cop Bobby Carrillo Released From Jail Early Because He Was Sad And Homesick

King City CA Bobby Carrillo

Officer Bobby Carrillo of the King City Police Department in Northern California has been released from jail after serving less than three months of a one year jail sentence. Monterey County Judge Julie Culver approved his request to serve the remainder of that sentence on house arrest.

In March, Carrillo pled no contest to charges in which he was accused of being the “mastermind” of a scheme involving six cops total, including two chiefs, in which they had low-income and minority residents’ cars illegally towed after stopping them without probable cause in a scheme to profit personally.

By preying on poor people, mostly of Latino background, Carrillo targeted those he knew would be unable to pay the impound fees to get their cars back. Part of the scheme was that for every ten cars his mafia crew stole Carrillo would get to keep one himself.

What was the reason for his early release from the Monterey County Jail you might ask. It was because he was depressed and wanted to go home. Plus, he had lost weight and the other inmates didn’t like him because he is a former cop.

Via KSBW “Action 8 News,” the local NBC affiliate in Monterey County:

A disgraced former King City police officer, Bobby Carrillo, was feeling depressed while serving a 1-year jail sentence and wanted to go home, according to prosecutors

On Thursday, Monterey County Judge Julie Culver granted Carrillo’s request to be released from jail and serve the remainder of his sentence on home confinement.

The judge’s decision surprised and disappointed prosecutors.

“We disagree with the judge. We feel police officers should be held to a higher standard,” Deputy District Attorney Steve Somers said.

Carrillo had been behind bars since April 29, and he served fewer than three months in the Monterey County Jail.

Defense attorney Susan Chapman said Carrillo had lost 30 pounds, his mental and physical health was suffering, and he received death threats.

Being an inmate was especially hard on Carrillo because he was held in a small, isolated cell, where he had very limited contact with other people, Chapman said. Carrillo was held in isolation to protect him from other inmates.

“Mr. Carrillo had been treated harsher than other individuals convicted of the same type of (charges),” Chapman said.

District Attorney Dean Flippo said he had no doubts that Carrillo felt uncomfortable as an inmate because he was a former police officer.

However, “(Carrillo’s) status as a former peace officer cannot be adequate to eliminate jail as an appropriate punishment.

Although jail is a difficult place for former police officers, that should exist as an extra deterrent to violating the law,” Flippo argued in a letter to the judge.

“The defendant has provided no evidence of medical necessity to change his jail sentence. Every inmate can obviously state that he is uncomfortable in jail. Surely this should not be the standard to have a jail sentence changed,” Flippo said.

But Culver sided with Carrillo’s defense attorney.

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Of course, anyone who has been to jail or knows someone that has been to jail knows that everyone is unhappy about being there and would rather be sitting at home. It’s also pretty common to lose a bunch of weight from the inedible food that is given to inmates. Some people might even argue that jail being unpleasant is kinda the point.

Even the one valid issue of danger from other inmates is just a matter of degrees. When you throw people into an overcrowded cage and treat them like animals they often respond as such. They certainly will be a little more threatening toward someone who played a part in the system that put them in that cage, but other inmates face the possibility of violence also.

It looks like these Bad Apples have found yet another way to make sure they receive their Policeman’s Discount whenever the Good Cops are forced (kicking and screaming) to go through the motions of acting like they want to hold them accountable.

“I’m homesick and the other inmates are being mean to me” will likely be taking it’s place next to “I feared for my life” and he reached for his waistband/my gun” in the magical get out of jail free cards they keep handy just in case.

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Henderson Cop Caught on Video Kicking Man In Diabetic Shock In Head Five Times Promoted

Brett Seekatz Henderson Police Beating

(Note: This post was originally published at CopBlock.org and was written by .)

Despite being filmed repeatedly kicking a man in the head during a traffic stop, a Henderson, Nevada police officer has been promoted.

Sergeant Brett Seekatz is seen in the footage with Nevada highway patrol troopers and Henderson police officers mistaking a man suffering from a diabetic episode for a drunk driver during a traffic stop on Oct. 29, 2010.

The video shows an officer pointing his firearm at Adam Greene through his open car door before the man is pulled out of the vehicle and onto the ground while the car remains in gear and begins slowly rolling away.

As an officer brings the vehicle to a stop, Greene is restrained by several cops and Seekatz is seen entering the frame and kicking him five times in the head while one of the officers says, “Stop resisting mother fucker! Stop resisting!”

Greene moans unnervingly during the struggle and his legs contort while another officer is seen kneeing him four times in the midsection. He is then handcuffed and placed into a police vehicle.

Watch the raw footage:

Following the incident, Henderson police chief Jutta Chambers announced her retirement and Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson did not bring any criminal charges against Seekatz for his unnecessary use of force.

Seekatz, who has worked for the Henderson Police Department since August 2002, was among 14 employees who received promotions last Thursday. He is now a lieutenant.

Current police chief Patrick Moers said the promotions became official on Monday, and are internal, meaning they do not need to be approved by the Henderson City Council with a vote.

“Whatever happened with him, happened six years ago,” Moers said. “I wasn’t chief at the time. Nothing was brought forward on any matters. No criminal charges were filed.”

Moers said the matter had already been taken care of by the previous administration and claimed Seekatz had “been a good employee and was doing quite well as a sergeant.” He added, “we need to understand that people can grow and develop as employees throughout their career.”

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