Tag Archives: Las Vegas Municiple Court

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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Las Vegas Lawsuit Aims to Curb Courts’ Revenue Generation Focus (Update)

It’s no secret that revenue generation is the name of the game for law enforcement and the courts these days. However, as has been pointed out previously on CopBlock.org, Las Vegas and the State of Nevada are particularly prone to such piracy. Now a lawsuit filed in Las Vegas aims to put an end to that.

The lawsuit stems from the case of Eric Siegler, who had warrants for “fix-it” tickets that he attempted to have a lawyer quash in April, so that he could resolve the original tickets. Instead that lawyer, Craig Mueller, was told that Siegler would have to pay $450 in fines before his case could even be heard by a judge.

Eventually, Mueller was able to get Seigler’s case before an elected judge without paying what is (correctly) described by the attorney as an “extortion fee.” At that point, Municipal Court Judge Martin Hastings not only quashed the warrants, but also waived the original fees. However, the city attorney’s office then filed a motion against Siegler “to clarify the process leading to quashing of bench warrants.”

Revenue Generation Traffic Courts

“Business” is good at the Las Vegas Municipal Courts

Mueller responded to that motion with the lawsuit on behalf of Siegler. In the suit, Siegler charges that the court levies unconstitutional fines and extracts hefty fees from poor defendants. It’s alleged that this is a purposeful strategy to take advantage of those least able to fight back against those policies in order to generate revenue through the court system. In addition, it states that the court denied constitutional due process rights to Eric Siegler in regard to his warrants.

According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, City Attorney Brad Jerbic declined to comment on the case, because litigation is pending.

In that same article, Mueller summarizes the way the courts operate:

Mueller suspects the move is simply an attempt to protect a traffic court system built around unaccountable judges, exorbitant fines and plain old “extortion.”

That’s why he hopes Siegler’s legal challenge — set to be heard by Hastings on July 22 — can force the court to change its ways.

“My hunch is (traffic court) is designed to do exactly what they’re doing with it: To make sure you don’t get to a judge and you get screwed out of these outrageous fines,” he said. “I think we can force them to rethink it.

“If nothing else, we can embarrass them into changing it.”

A good portion of the LVRJ article, outside of the part discussing the lawsuit, is a rehash of the previous criticisms of the revenue generation tactics of the Las Vegas Municipal Courts already detailed in my earlier post. However, there are some interesting things brought to light by this article. One is that (unnamed) court officials are actually quoted referring to the courts as “our business.” Another is the fact that, although the number of cases filed in the Municipal Court have dropped by over a third (36%) since 2003, revenue has increased by 124% in that time. The vast majority of that is due to secondary fees and charges not related to the original charges, which often add up to several times the original amount.

Another example of how well Las Vegas residents are being served by their elected representatives is that Councilmen Bob Coffin and Ricki Barlow, who collectively represent five of the poorest areas in town (by ZIP code), are not too worried about the impact this is having on their constituents. Although Coffin can’t even recall the reason for appointing unelected traffic commissioners to essentially act as judges, he states, “I’m comfortable with the traffic commissioners to the extent that I can be.”

The fact that the courts operate like the worst mob-run weekly payday loan sharking operation, designed to keep people on the hook for months, if not years, is disgraceful in and of itself. Its use of unelected “traffic commissioners” and the requirement to pay these exorbitant fees before you even have an option to be seen by an actual judge, is downright criminal.

And those “community leaders” who just aren’t that concerned about the way the communities who elected them are being fleeced by this racket should be put out on the streets with the rest of the garbage in this city. Without the ability to hire a lawyer, it’s almost impossible to fight against this type of thievery and that’s precisely why poor people, who lack the money to do so, are being targeted. Of course, low income residents are also the least able to afford this financial treadmill. The people who supposedly represent them shouldn’t be comfortable with that.

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Putting Revenue Generation Above Public Safety at Las Vegas’ “Money Hungry” Municipal Courts

The Las Vegas Review Journal is the latest media outlet to point out the already painfully obvious tendency toward revenue generation that law enforcement has degenerated into.  Citing current and ex-employees, as well as lawyers and people that have been defendants within the court, the LVRJ states in a recent article:

“It’s a question of priorities.


Should Las Vegas’ law enforcement officers arrest criminals, or feed city coffers…?


They contend the court’s “money hungry” approach to misdemeanor warrants prioritizes revenue collection above public safety and pressures marshals to take a credit card payment in lieu of locking up violent offenders.


Staffers say this collect-at-all-costs mentality tends to place a heightened emphasis on traffic ticket revenue — a practice that disproportionately harms poor, often minority defendants more likely to wind up in jail for failure to pay a speeding or fix-it ticket — all while leaving much more serious offenders on the street.


They blame those practices on a pair of top city managers, administrators they say have created a culture of “coercion” to better fund Las Vegas’ courts….


Law enforcement authorities…also have been accused of plundering vulnerable residents — most recently, in Las Vegas’ case, as part of a class action lawsuit that claims the now-disbanded Las Vegas constable’s office engaged in the ‘illegal shakedown’ of newcomers to the area.”

This is a photo I took of the Brinks truck that they drive up to the front door of the Regional Injustice Center in Las Vegas every morning.The reference to the “illegal shakedown” by the constable’s office (which was actually dissolved due to the constant scandals and corruption within it) refers to their practice of charging new residents a $100 fee as “compensation” when they issue tickets for having not changed their license plates, even if they later prove that they were within the 30-day window allotted to do so (a law which itself was modified to shorten the time allowed and quadruple associated fines, based purely on a desire to increase tax revenue). This led to constables (who personally received $65 of that fee) spending most of their time driving around apartment complexes searching for cars bearing out of state license plates.

(The photo to the left is one I took of the armored truck that they drive up to the front door of the Regional Injustice Center in Las Vegas every morning to haul away all the cash they take in.)

The Review Journal article also goes on to explain how the focus on collecting revenue creates an unofficial quota system and leads to favoritism toward those that pad the Las Vegas Municipal Court’s budget within the Las Vegas Marshal’s office:

“Former Las Vegas Marshal Richard Kilgore said a lot of the work of some of his former colleagues amounts to nothing short of ‘extortion.’


Kilgore said the court rewards those who bring in the most money, offering additional training and even promotions to marshals who negotiate court-ordered bail amounts with scofflaws in the field.


Those who don’t, he said, find themselves out in the cold.


‘Officers like myself would get denied training, get stuck in court more,’ Kil­gore added. ‘That’s where I thought (marshals) were supposed to be. I’ve always thought that we’re not there to generate revenue, we’re there to enforce court orders and uphold the decorum of the court.’”

These cash centric policies of the Las Vegas courts create a predatory nature among law enforcement and effect sentencing policies. Plus, the real danger is that actual criminals, who pose a true threat to local residents, are being allowed to run free, as long as they have a credit or debit card to swipe and some dollars in the bank:

“But the court does handle its share of DUI and domestic violence cases.


Lately, when a defendant in one of those cases skips a court date or violates a court order, records show marshals have been willing to let them off with a fine — even if the offender is violent and even if it is not that offender’s first brush with the law….


State and city audit records show the Las Vegas Municipal Court has implemented several ‘revenue enhancement’ tweaks in recent years, including at least one bail and fine schedule revision in 2003 and a 2012 change that ‘provides defendants options for settling their case in exchange for higher fines and a major bump in the court’s administrative assessment revenue.


The court’s fiscal 2012 revenue report notes a similar policy change requiring defendants to pay program fees before fines — a practice that could see defendants spend months or years paying the court hundreds or thousands of dollars in late fees before even starting to pay down an initial past-due fine….


City employees who spoke with the newspaper recall instances in which marshals collected as much as $1,500 on a $187 speeding ticket, or were called out to cuff a defendant facing multiple DUI charges, only to see those infractions washed away with one swipe of a credit card. Still others said marshals had been directed to collect hundreds of dollars in fines over a ticket for suspended vehicle registration.


They said the system is designed to ensure that defendants who owe the court money continue to owe the court, and that those same defendants never land in jail.


‘There are thousands of violent criminal warrants in the system to be worked,’ said one employee, who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation. ‘Instead, they’re putting more emphasis on traffic warrants or just letting these people go.'”

These type of tactics by Las Vegas revenue collectors can’t help but beg for a comparison to the NYPD’s famous unofficial strike, in which they vowed to only harass or arrest people “when necessary.” That didn’t quite work out how they had expected though, when everyone pointed (happily) to the enormous drop in “crime” and pretty much nobody missed them one bit. The biggest lesson learned during that exercise in cutting off your nose to spite your face was when reporters asked people in New York why they were less than brokenhearted over their absence. A good percentage of them explained, that while cops were constantly stopping them for minor, money based infractions or with thinly veiled excuses to harass people they didn’t like the looks of, when they called them for an actual violent crime or legitimate threat, they were often nowhere to be found.

And of course, no story about police or politicians in Las Vegas would be complete without a healthy dose of corruption and inappropriate behavior being involved:

“Three city staff members blamed marshal’s office management for most problems associated with that department’s renewed emphasis on revenue collection, particularly marshal’s office chief Lt. Manning.


They said the 20-year marshal’s office veteran has been named in no fewer than three formal workplace conduct and sexual harassment complaints, two of which are still pending.


The city wouldn’t say whether Manning has ever been investigated or disciplined in connection with those allegations. Manning’s wife, Cheryl, has served as the city’s chief internal affairs officer since 2007, a post officials say does not include investigative authority over Municipal Court marshals.


Las Vegas employees suspect City Hall is aware of some, if not all of the questions surrounding Manning’s workplace conduct, but chooses to ignore them because he generates “a lot of money” for Las Vegas in fines and fees.


Staffers contend that one way Manning manages to boost those returns is by manipulating warrants ‘ordered’ and ‘issued’ by the court.


A warrant ordered by one of Las Vegas’ 20 Municipal or Justice Court judges can still be voluntarily tidied up through a defendant’s court appearance before a set date.


Marshals can’t make an arrest or collect a fine on such a document until it is put into issued status — a designation that’s not supposed to be approved by anyone but a judge.


Multiple city employees said marshals have been instructed to seek out defendants with an ordered warrant and, if found, call the court clerk to have the warrant switched to issued status, effectively pre-empting a judge’s order on the matter and dangling the specter of jail time in front of defendants being served with a warrant.


Staffers likened the practice to coercion — the equivalent of treating Las Vegas’ most vulnerable residents like an ATM.


‘It’s pay or go to jail…’ one employee said.”

So the next time you see eight LVMPD cops arresting one elderly homeless woman on Fremont St., remember they’re keeping you safe and they need to raise your taxes, so they can hire more cops to keep you even more safe from the dangers of having too much money in your pocket.

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