Tag Archives: contempt of court

Body Cam Video: Alabama Mother Unlawfully Arrested After Saying “F The Police”

Arrested by Alabama Cop For Saying Fuck The Police

Body camera video (embedded below) shows a mother and domestic violence victim in Alabama being arrested for saying, “Fuck The Police,” even though it is a legal exercise of free speech that is protected under the First Amendment.

**Scroll down to about the halfway point for the video**
Note: The video and description included within this post was shared with Nevada Cop Block via reader submission. If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

Date of Incident: Ongoing
Officer Involved: Cpl. (now Sgt.) Youngblood
Department Involved: Millbrook Alabama Police
Chief of Police: P.K. Johnson – (334) 285-5603
Assistant Chief: Johnny Montgomery – (334) 285-5603
Facebook: City of Millbrook on FB

The video submitted for this post is fairly self explanatory and even predictable: two cops from a tiny Alabama town show up presumably to mediate a dispute over childcare issues between a husband and wife. One of the cops begins to feel his authoritah isn’t being properly respected, so he decides to escalate the situation into a confrontation. The mother, who also says she is a domestic violence victim, gets frustrated and decides to legally exercise her freedom of speech by yelling “Fuck The Police.” Cpl. Youngblood responds by making an unlawful arrest based on speech that clearly (and according to the Supreme Court) is protected by the First Amendment.

Beyond that singular incident, Nicole, who submitted the post, details the many abusive acts she says her husband has carried out against her and her children. She also discusses the numerous ways in which he has used his influence with the police, courts, and CPS workers to cover up those abuses and further victimize her.

Hello,

I’m in need of help. When this video (embedded below) took place, I was devastated. The police took no actions. Then my 17 yr. old son was handcuffed and beaten by the police of Millbrook, Alabama while non combative for being a hot head. One officer involved in the act spoke up and told what happened. I was incarcerated at the time and watched as four officers beat my son.

After that horrific incident, my son and I were subjected to judicial abuse. This was so bad that, when my son’s charges were dropped, the juvenile judge made threats to our lives. All of this stems from domestic violence within our living situation, for which I was denied help in Alabama by police countless times. Also the nearest local domestic violence center is “Family Sunshine Center” in Montgomery, Alabama. So, I was forced to stay and deal with it, as the Millbrook police suggested after arriving at my home previously.

I took my arrest to trial, however,  because I was making the case a Black Lives Matter issue, the lawyer I paid refused to represent me in court, quitting with only two days remaining before court. So, I was forced to represent myself at trail with no jury, in which I lost when I told the judge he misunderstood the facts. After spending six months on bail bond hold, I could not escape the escalating abuse.

Horrible, unspeakable things were escalating and the children and I were falling into despair. I was isolated and didnot have a way out. So, I continued to deal with it until my husband came home angry and drew back his fist to hurt our three year old.

I cried out, “Don’t you hit her!” Instead of a punch to the belly, he violently threw her four feet across the room. I rushed to her. Thankfully, she was unharmed and had landed in a U shape on her bum. This was a blessing of the fact she could do cartwheels from age two and now, at age four, has mastered a one handed cartwheel, as well as other flips and jumps. If not for her god given talents, she would have ended up in serious condition.

Afraid to call the Millbrook police, for good reason, I called the Montgomery police, who advised me to call the state troopers. Once I had called the state troopers, I was nicely told by the officer that I was crazy and that the Millbrook police are not out to get me. That they will help you. Cpl. Youngblood, who is the policeman seen arresting me in the video, answered the phone.

I said, “No thank you, I do not need help.” The state trooper then asked if Youngblood would be coming out. He replied, “No, I will send some others. I replied, “Still, no thank you.” After several hours had passed, there was a knock on the door. It was the Millbrook police. I looked out the window and said, “No thank you, go away.”

Instead, they broke into my front door. I screamed and ran, asking them to leave. They refused to go and did not say even one word the whole time. Confused, I tried to calm myself down and speak to the officers. So I sat in the living room on a wing-backed chair. One of the officers moved so close to me that the ring on his belt hung in my face. He also wore a very menacing look on his face.

Then, I turned my face towards the door, scared of what they were going to do to me. I saw Cpl. Youngblood walking into the door and I became even more afraid. At this time, I saw my cell phone sitting nearby and picked it up to record their actions. The close officer backed off a bit and they all stood silently with their hands folded as I cried and begged Cpl. Youngblood to leave. (I still have that video.)

See the video below for the rest of what happened…

After that was over, I knew I needed to get out of there before one of us ended a life. So I called my local home town news station, who gave me the number of the domestic violence shelter. So I called and spoke to a wonderful counselor, who got busy to help me stay alive.

She advised me to call the local child protective services, so I did. She also advised me to tell the truth, so I did. John Holmes, who answered the call, listened to my plea for help. Then he advised me that he would not be coming out to make a report and that I would be held responsible for any abuse found, also.

Devastated that my family was once again in grave danger, I again turned to the Willow Domestic Violence Center in New York. The counselor was shocked at the news of what had happened, but she also had bad news for me again. There was no D.V. shelter for me to go to and they refused to help me escape with five kids.

My husband had returned with the police and gotten the car keys. So I could not leave, being in a very country place. There was no way out and he could kill us at any time. No one would help. The Willow Domestic Violence Shelter counselor said that I must get a police report, at least.

Together, we called the police, the mayor, and a host of other city officials in Millbrook, Alabama. Finally, they sent officers out to take the report without Youngblood. However, when they came to do the report, the male officer put words in my mouth. Afraid to dispute it, I held my tongue. I also have video of this event.

Once I had confirmation that the report was written, the captain of the police department stated that that was all they would do for me and that no investigation or arrest would be made. I was then advised by the New York domestic violence shelter that they could not find any help in the state of Alabama for my family.

If I had a way to get to my hometown of N.Y., they said they could help. With nowhere to go and our lives in danger, my oldest son called a friend. We made plans for him to come back in the AM to make two trips to Montgomery, Alabama to board a Greyhound to New York and that is what we did. There was a rainbow on the day that we left.

Confused, sad, and bewildered with five kids and only 600 dollars, I went to a DV shelter. He went to court and filed for a divorce. I was never made aware of this and he won by default all things and custody of our children. He came to their school in NY and removed them. When the domestic violence shelter found out, moves were made to protect the children. Also, a Child Protective Services investigation was done and he was indicted on all claims.

Court procedures to protect the children were started in New York. The children were assigned a legal guardian, who also agreed that there had been neglect and abuse by their father. I thought we were safe, but due to UCJA laws, the case was moved back to Alabama with safety precautions for the children to return. The children were given a legal guardian and I was to contact her and also the local Child Protective Services, so I did.

When speaking to the legal guardian, she informed me that she was only put on the case to satisfy the court in NY. Also, she said that she had been told by Judge Sibley Reynolds to go speak to my husband and to make a written statement, which she had already written. I then called Child Protective Services, as ordered, and they proceeded to tell me that they have not gotten the judges orders and will not open the case to investigate that Steuben, NY had already investigated. In addition, they said it is up to the Millbrook police to file criminal charges and they will in no way protect our children.

Husband Abuse Alabama Wife Police Courts CorruptionSo, afraid of what was going on, I called the Millbrook police and spoke to Capt. Fields, who told me he was not going to protect me or the kids. He also made a remark that he knows exactly who I am; I’m the woman who doesn’t know how to talk to police. He then proceeded to tell me that I can’t make him do it and NY can’t make him do it. I found out later that the New York police and CPS made a request for prosecution that was also denied by the Millbrook police.

Terrified, with no lawyer to take my case, I called Elmore County court and asked about my case. I was informed that there was not a new case of custody modifications in front of a special master as my court documents said. However, some movement was made on a contempt of court charge in the original default divorce. Knowing now that I was not safe to return, I started to read all the divorce documents.

I noticed my maiden name is wrong, the marriage date is wrong, and I found out that the divorce is not fully dissolved due to us being married in India under the Hindu Marriage Act and because I was not present for any of the divorce proceedings. I can have the case heard in a fair forum. I noticed in court that they use having ties to India against me and put a hold on my passport blocking me from help and assets.

I am in hiding, in fear for my life, afraid of being hurt by police or my abusive husband. Several domestic violence shelters, CPS workers, police, and judges in Steuben County have tried to protect my children and I. They can do nothing more than to personally tell me to hide.

The officials in Alabama won’t listen. He has, with the help of an Alabama court had the two indications of abuse sealed and expunged leaving me having to hide in fear, in order to protect myself and my children. I have looked high and low for help. I have proof of all this. Does anyone out there have any ideas? (This account is really just the basic story lines.)

Thank you,

– Nicole

Related Content on NVCopBlock.org:

  1. LVMPD Caught on Body Camera Admitting They Arrested Man For Singing F*ck The Police
  2. Submit Your Own Story of Police Abuse/Corruption
  3. Help Wanted! How You Can Become Involved With NVCopBlock
  4. #FTP – How and Why You Should Always Film The Police
  5. Press Passes for Independent Media and Freelance Journalists
  6. How to File a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) Request
  7. “Let Me See Your I.D.” Stop and Identify Statutes – Know Your Rights
  8. Beware of Gang Activity in Your Neighborhood!
  9. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: The LVMPD’s Killer Reputation
  10. A Video Compilation of Las Vegas Area Police Brutality
  11. Donate to the Cause – Help Us Help You Fight The Power
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Update: Las Vegas Police Officer Previously Caught Committing Perjury Promoted (Again) to Captain

LVMPD Capt. Yesenia Yatomi Promotion After Perjury

Capt. Yasenia Yatomi, who ordered the illegal arrest of Las Vegas attorney Stephen Stubbs in order to question a suspect without his attorney present and then lied about it under oath.

Normally, once you know the actual background of the subject of Las Vegas ABC affiliate KTNV.com‘s “feel good story” about a female LVMPD officer receiving a promotion, its opening line would be rather ironic:

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s newest captain is beating the odds…”

Of course, in this situation we’re talking about a cop and more specifically a Las Vegas cop. So any sort of amazement or disbelief in relation to their horrible and even outright illegal behavior on the job and lack of any sort of meaningful consequences should always be immediately and completely suspended.

The true fact of the matter is that if newly promoted Captain Yatomi was employed in any other sort of career field just the fact that she wasn’t fired after she was caught in court committing perjury in order to justify ordering the illegal arrest of a lawyer would have huge odds against it.

In fact, it could be argued that, even among the police in most cities outside of the Las Vegas area, being exposed (once again in court) as having falsified an official police report would also carry pretty good odds of landing a police officer in jail.

What’s not mentioned at all within that article is that Capt. Yatomi has a rather large and infamous history of misconduct over the past several years. As can be seen in the video embedded below, in 2013 then Sgt. Yatomi, as part of the LVMPD Gang Task Force, arrived at a traffic stop in which members of a motorcycle club, the “Bikers for Christ,” were being questioned by a group of Metro patrol officers.

In spite of the fact that one of the detained bikers had asked Stephen Stubbs, a local attorney who was present at the time, to represent him during that questioning, Yatomi immediately ordered him to leave. Stubbs refused to do so, explaining that the man had a Fifth Amendment right to counsel. Instead of honoring that request, Yatomi ordered the arrest of Stubbs for “obstruction.”

Stephen Stubbs Arrest Video

That, in and of itself, would be a violation of the Constitution and, based on that, an illegal arrest of an attorney who had every legal right to represent their client during questioning. At the very least, it should have brought into question Yatomi’s knowledge of the law and her (rather important) job requirement to actually be aware of and uphold the Constitutional rights of citizens. The fact she was in a supervisory position as a sergeant only compounds those factors.

However, rather than dismissing the charges and admitting to being in the wrong, Yatomi subsequently created a second police report with a falsified description of the arrest, alleging that Stubbs had actively interfered with the officers’ investigation. Fortunately for Stubbs, a bystander had filmed the entire incident. Otherwise, he likely would have been sentenced to jail and possibly even disbarred as a result of Yatomi’s false report.

Instead, once the video was shown in court, Stubbs was declared innocent by Judge Eric Goodman. That video evidence was convincing enough that Stubbs was not even required to present a defense. It gets even worse, though. Not only did Yatomi lie in the police report she presented to prosecutors, she also withheld the original police report in order to cover for her illegal actions. Since a police report constitutes a sworn statement, both the falsification of the second report and the withholding of the first are criminal acts.

Regardless of this blatant and obvious string of crimes Yatomi had committed, she suffered exactly zero repercussions for her intentional illegal actions. Judge Goodman refused to hold her in contempt for having committed perjury and evidence tampering within his courtroom, ruling that it was up to the LVMPD to file charges against her. And you know that didn’t happen, because Metro is known as the most corrupt police department in the country for a reason.

In fact, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has not only reached new lows in failing to hold Yatomi accountable in any way for her crimes, they’ve rewarded her quite handsomely for them. As shown in the video embedded below, in 2016 Yatomi was promoted to lieutenant. As part of that promotion Lt. Yatomi, who had been publicly exposed as a perjurer that withheld evidence in order to justify an illegal and unconstitutional arrest, was placed in charge of Metro’s internal affairs division (the department that investigates cops accused of misconduct).

And now, just four years after knowingly and intentionally committing multiple felonies in order to justify an illegal arrest, Yasenia Yatomi has “beaten the odds” by being promoted to the rank of captain and put in charge of the Bolden Area Command. That certainly inspires confidence that the LVMPD has cleaned up their act and can now be trusted to hold their officers accountable. I feel safer already.

Lt. Yatomi is Promoted and Put in Charge of Internal Affairs

Previous Posts on NVCopBlock.org About Capt. Yasenia Yatomi:

  1. The LVMPD Gang Task Force is Corrupt and it Extends All the Way to the Top
  2. Head of LVMPD Internal Affairs Ordered to Answer Perjury/Withholding
  3. Head of LVMPD Internal Affairs Accused of Perjury; Judge Recused Self Due to “Negative Opinion” of Her
  4. Las Vegas Attorney Stephen Stubbs: “Stand Up and Tell the Truth” – Why #PoliceLiesMatter
  5. Las Vegas Attorney Stephen Stubbs Found Not Guilty in 5th Amendment Right to Counsel Case
  6. Attorney Stephen Stubbs Arrested for Refusing to Leave His Client’s Side
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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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Las Vegas Judge Continues Bizarre, Out of Control Behavior; Throws Family of Murder Victims Out of Court; Threatens to Arrest Reporter

Previously, 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, a 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.

(Full disclosure: Maggie McLetchie, who is identified as one of the paper’s  attorneys in the LVRJ article quoted above is a former partner in the law firm that represented me and several others when we were illegally arrested for writing on public sidewalks with sidewalk chalk.

She’s also a member of the law firm that is currently representing me and two other people in a lawsuit resulting from those illegal arrests. However, I have not spoken to her in regard to this or any other posts I have written about Judge Hafen’s recent behavior.)

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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Contempt Charge Against Defense Attorney Who was Handcuffed in Court by Las Vegas Judge Dismissed

On August 2nd, a contempt of court charge filed by Judge Hafen, a Las Vegas Justice of the Peace, against Zohra Bakhtary was thrown out by a Clark County district judge.

This is the second public rebuke of Hafen, who received much publicity and criticism when he ordered Bakhtary to be handcuffed by a court marshal during court as the deputy public defender was attempting to represent a client. In June, during the Nevada primary elections, Hafen was defeated by Amy Cheline in a landslide, rendering him a former judge, effective in January.

In addition, the client whom Bakhtary was attempting to defend at the time she was, according to Hafen, “taught a lesson” by being handcuffed in open court, has also been ordered released by another judge.

Via the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Bakhtary’s attorney, Dominic Gentile, said Hafen had confused Bakhtary’s “zealous defense” with obstruction of justice, and she was never given the opportunity to speak on her own behalf.

Nick Crosby, a lawyer representing Hafen, argued that attorneys should uphold a professional demeanor in court, speak in their own time with relevance and moderation, and allow the court to do its job without interference.

After Hafen ordered a court marshal to handcuff Bakhtary on May 23, she was left to sit silently, while her client was sent to jail for six months on a larceny charge.

In his contempt order, Hafen wrote that Bakhtary displayed “disorderly, contemptuous or insolent behavior” and that he had “asked defense counsel on numerous times/occasions to not interrupt” him while he was issuing his decision.

Bakhtary, 30, has said she was not trying to argue with the judge. She was released from the handcuffs after about three minutes, after the judge declared that she had “learned a lesson.”

Throwing out the contempt charge, District Judge Gloria Sturman ruled that Bakhtary was denied due process and not allowed to speak in her own defense or call her supervisor before a marshal handcuffed her and placed her in the jury box of the courtroom.

In response to Sturman’s ruling, Gentile said, “At a minimum, it means that judges need to understand that they themselves may not like what a lawyer is doing, but that does not mean that they can capriciously and arbitrarily hold them in contempt. It also means that lawyers have a duty to zealously represent their clients. And sometimes that means standing up to a judge that’s wrong.

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“Zohra exemplified what it means to be a zealous advocate. She really establishes herself as a model for standing up when you have to, even at a personal cost, such as this was to her.”

Bakhtary, who called being handcuffed in court “humiliating,” has not appeared before Hafen since the incident. Her client at the time, Daniel Fernandez, was later released from jail after another judge ordered the larceny case closed.

“The court’s constitutional duty is to listen to arguments, not silence them,” Bakhtary said. “While this act of physical restraint did not diminish my passion and devotion to continue to represent the indigent, it was extremely disturbing that the court continued to sentence my client without an attorney after having violated his right to counsel.”

At this point, it’s pretty clear who was in the wrong in this little standoff. Soon to be ex-judge Hafen not only went overboard while trying to show who the dictator in his courtroom was, but obviously picked the wrong time to do so, in light of the proximity to the elections and the (proper) reaction of local voters.

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Cop Arrests Defendant for Asking Judge for Clarification in Court

This video was shared with the CopBlock Network by Joe Pierce, who is a member of Cop Watch Hawaii, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

February 22, 2016
Roscommon County (Michigan) Jail

While in court, a friend of mine was told by a judge, “I’m going to throw you in jail if you don’t enter a plea in ten seconds.” My friend asked for clarification of the nature of the proceedings, so he could understand the question before answering it. Instead, the judge threw him in jail…for asking a question…for 30 days.

This was yesterday in Michigan and he’s still in jail now.

I just want people to see that sheriffs and bailiffs are cops too, and should be held accountable for enforcing the Nazi style orders of corrupt judges.

Thanks Cop Block, :)

– Joe Pierce of Cop Watch Hawaii

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Jesus Arevalo, the LVMPD Cop Who Murdered Stanley Gibson, Ends Up in Jail (For 10 Days)

Jesus Arevalo LV Police Murder Stanley GibsonThe former Las Vegas cop, who in December of 2011 fired the shots that killed Gulf War vet Stanley Gibson as he sat unarmed in a car, has been sentenced to 10 days of jail for contempt of court by Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge Heidi Almase. This particular sentence is related to a subsequent charge in which Jesus Arevalo was found guilty of harassing his ex-wife and her new boyfriend. Arevalo was seen and heard by numerous witnesses making death threats against Steve Delao, who is now married to Arevalo’s former wife Catherine, in public at a church.

It’s not exactly clear what constituted that charge of contempt. However, one of the stipulations of his sentencing was that if he violated the protection order his wife has against him after his release he would have to serve the 179 day suspended sentence that he received from that conviction. This would imply that the contempt charge involves some sort of violation of that protection order.

stanley_gibson_shootingAt the time that Jesus Arevalo shot him, Stanley Gibson was not even suspected of being armed (as testified by other officers at the scene), was suffering from a panic attack precipitated by a mental illness and PTSD related to his wartime military service, and was merely sitting in a car that had been blocked in and completely immobilized by police vehicles (see video embedded below). He was incoherent, unresponsive and not in any way threatening or even capable of harming anyone. The police had responded to a suspected break in after Stanley became confused and went to the wrong apartment thinking it was where he lived after having just moved.

Arevalo was a problem cop with an extensive history of complaints and internal discipline, who should have been fired long before he got the opportunity to kill Stanley Gibson. Instead, he was moved from one unit to another and eventually put on the graveyard shift. According to his ex-wife, he had in fact stated that he wanted to kill someone in order to get paid time off, as well as making disparaging and racist comments about Gibson to her after the shooting. Arevalo is just one example of the LVMPD’s abysmal history of refusing and even actively working to prevent accountability for the criminals within their ranks.

Jesus Arevalo's Court Record

Jesus Arevalo’s Court Record

Although on paper he was punished by being fired, Jesus Arevalo was never held accountable or punished in any real way for the murder of Stanley Gibson. Instead, he was effectively rewarded for his deadly actions that day. First, he was given two years of paid vacation while his former coworkers at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department “investigated” the shooting. Then former Sheriff Gillespie dragged his feet long enough before “firing” Jesus Arevalo to allow him to put in for disability (for the stress of being called a murderer after he murderer someone).

He was approved for that disability just one month before his “firing” by the LVMPD. Among those on the board that approved his disability were Chris Collins, who at that time was the president of the LVPPA (the police union for departments within the Las Vegas area). Collins stated that he didn’t feel it was a conflict of interest because they “didn’t hang out together.” As part of his “disability,” Arevalo now receives just under $30,000 (plus future cost of living increases) per year for the rest of his life. Unlike Social Security disability, people receiving government disability are also not precluded from working, they are just not allowed to be employed in the same field. So, Arevalo will receive that $30k/year Killer’s Bonus on top of whatever he makes in another job.

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