Lawsuits target abuse in Carson City Court Department of Alternative Sentencing program

carson city alternitve sentencingLawsuits target abuse in Carson City Court Department of Alternative Sentencing program.

see updated story here; https://nevadastatepersonnelwatch.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/nevada-department-of-alternative-sentencing-did-not-have-legal-jurisdiction-over-pre-trial-defendants-prior-to-july-2013-if-you-were-under-das-supervision-you-may-have-legal-recourse-to-sue/

In Carson City, Douglas County and Henderson Nevada, the courts have created an internal police force called the Department of Alternative Sentencing (“DAS”).  The courts in these jurisdictions bypassed the State parole and probation department and took on jurisdiction of people who have been charged, but not convicted of a crime. These people are known as pre-trial Defendants.

carson city courthouse

carson city courthouse

Prior to July 2013 when the laws governing DAS were modified by the Nevada Legislature in Senate Bill 101 and signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval, DAS had no legal jurisdiction over pre-trial Defendants.

We know the Carson City DAS exploited its power and acted outside jurisdiction when assuming control over hundreds and easily thousands of pre-trial Defendants prior to July 2013. DAS essentially and prematurely put pre-trial Defendants on “probation”  which subjected these people, presumed to be innocent, on GPS monitoring, house arrest, subject to search and seizure, drug and/or alcohol testing and even body cavity searches.

DAS is also widely know for illegally changing court orders and conditions of pre-trial Defendants that were never subject to their jurisdiction.

In the minutes of the Nevada Senate Committee on Judiciary from February 27, 2013 show Carson City DAS Chief Rory Plantea stating on the record how he and his DAS have been breaking the law and violating pre-trial Defendants civil rights.

Click here for SB101: SB101 Nevada DAS new law 2013

Minutes from the Nevada Senate Committee on Judiciary February 27, 2013

Click here for PDF file: DAS minutes from 2013 Nevada SB101

James Settlemyer

Sen. James Settlemeyer

SENATE BILL 101: Revises provisions relating to departments of alternative sentencing. (BDR 16-464)
Senator James A. Settelmeyer (Senatorial District No. 17):

I apologize for not getting the language correct to begin with and having to work off the mock-up (Exhibit G). The changes in the mock-up are necessary to incorporate some important and necessary clarifications.

This bill allows for pretrial sentencing to be done by the county or city department of alternative sentencing. When this was discussed in the past, some said the State should be doing it. However, we know the State does not have the funds to implement pretrial sentencing, so the counties do it. This bill enables legislation, adding the word “may,” so there is no fiscal impact to the counties since it is at their own discretion whether to participate.

There are often conditions of bail that the court stipulates, including restraining orders, temporary protection orders (TPO), firearm purchase bans, controlled substance use bans, etc. These departments can do this and provide a valuable service to the courts to review the bail stipulations and make sure the conditions are met. In some counties, these issues are being handled differently. This bill is an attempt to help those counties without a separate program to implement alternative sentencing. We are attempting to codify activities already being implemented in many counties. tick

Chair Segerblom:
This is not the first bill we have seen from Douglas County about this issue.

Senator Settelmeyer:
Yes, we had this bill in the Assembly. At that time, we felt the State should deal with the issue, but since that time, the State has not stepped forward.

Michael Beam (Chief, Department of Alternative Sentencing, Douglas County):
We perform these functions for the courts in Douglas County and Carson City. We serve both the district and justice courts. We ask that this issue be addressed in the statutory provisions of chapter 211A of Nevada Revised Statutes to make it right. We perform pretrial services for persons accused of crimes and awaiting sentencing or trial. The court imposes conditions, and we supervise those individuals to make sure he or she complies with those conditions. We support this bill.

Chair Segerblom:
If there are orders from the judge, like drug testing or curfews, you make sure it happens, is that correct?

Mr. Beam:
Yes. A range of conditions can be imposed—drug or alcohol clauses, testing, firearm provisions, TPOs, stay-away orders, etc. It varies case by case.

Chair Segerblom:
In sounds like it saves money because the offender is not in jail and can work, depending on the case.

Mr. Beam:
Absolutely, on pretrial with bail conditions.

Rory Planeta Chief Department of Alternative Sentencing

Rory Planeta Chief Department of Alternative Sentencing

Rory Planeta (Chief, Department of Alternative Sentencing, Carson City):
We supervise persons who are released on bail or released on their own recognizance without bail. The judge puts conditions on the offender, and we supervise. We work from NRS 178.484, which allows judges to place conditions on persons to protect the citizens and protect themselves. The judge makes the decision on which conditions to impose, and once the individual is placed under our supervision, we make sure he or she maintains those conditions or we bring him or her back to the judge. Those conditions can include drug testing, no weapons, no gang associations, etc. These conditions are necessary to protect the public. We support this bill.

Chair Segerblom:
Does this just apply to Douglas County and Carson City?

Senator Settelmeyer:
The provisions could apply to anyone wanting to implement them. Only these two counties are in this situation to my knowledge. Mr. Planeta, do you know of other counties similarly situated?

Mr. Planeta:
Yes. Henderson has alternative sentencing; it is called supervised release, which we think is a good term. Part of this bill refers to probationers, but that is not what we call them. They are persons released under the supervision of the Department. We also perform misdemeanor probation, suspended sentences, house arrest, etc. We feel this legislation is a natural progression for us to watch those individuals and keep our citizens safe.

Chair Segerblom:
This sounds like a great program. Do we have more supporters?

James J. Jackson (Nevada Judges of Limited Jurisdiction):
I represent the Nevada Judges of Limited Jurisdiction, representing municipal courts, justice courts and the State. We support this bill. Originally, the bill had mandatory language, but it is now permissive, so we are fine with it.

Laurel Stadler (Northern Nevada DUI Task Force):
We support alternative sentencing with DUI offenders. We support this bill.

Richard Glasson (Tahoe Township Justice Court, Douglas County):
This bill brings to light something I and other small court judges use on a daily basis. Alternative sentencing allows a judge to shape behaviors and responsibilities and provide protections before adjudication. While we presume everyone is innocent, there is a period of time between arrests and the disposition of the case that can be a sort of never-never land. This alternative sentencing tool allows us to put some people on a right path and potentially eliminates the need for posttrial supervision or probation because the person has proven in advance that he or she has taken these classes or sobriety conditions seriously.

Chair Segerblom:
You can take information from the individual’s cooperation with conditions imposed during pretrial and apply it to sentencing?

Judge Glasson:
Absolutely. There have been times when, because of the abysmal behaviors between arrests and trial, arrestees prove they are not going to be responsive to probation later on. More often than not, we see that these arrestees are just good, responsible people who might have stubbed their toes. They follow the straight and narrow during pretrial, and we do not have a recidivism problem with them when we use this tool.

Chair Segerblom:
Do district attorneys have access to the pretrial information when they are making decisions?

gpsJudge Glasson:
Yes, it is public information. The ankle bracelets and other tools we use are wonderful technology. gps orwell

Mr. O’Callaghan:
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is neutral on this bill. I also represent the Nevada Sheriffs’ and Chiefs’ Association, and that organization supports this bill.

Mark Jacobs (Chief Marshal, Henderson Alternative Sentencing Division, City of Henderson):
We fully support this bill. It would be a great tool for us to use on a local level. We supervise around 2,000 probationers and 200 individuals released with conditions of release from our courts every day. This bill would allow us to get over some challenging hurdles in supervising those offenders.

Chair Segerblom:
Do the individuals who have been charged with the crime have to pay for equipment issued to them, like ankle bracelets?

Mr. Jacobs:
Yes. It is not a burden on the taxpayers, and that is also true of our probationers. When we have individuals released with conditions, we have concerns about situations like no contact orders, no further arrest clauses, drug and alcohol testing, GPS monitoring, alcohol monitoring, etc. It is a challenge to try and enforce and keep track of these people and those conditions without a specific statute.

Ian Massy (City of Henderson):
We support this bill.

Diane R. Crow (State Public Defender, Office of the State Public Defender):
I represent people in Carson City, Storey County, White Pine County and Eureka County. I do not oppose the spirit of this bill, but I oppose the end result as we have seen it here in Carson City. Conditions of bail that are supervised by alternative sentencing include call-in and color-coded drug testing. This means a person who has been arrested and not convicted of a crime and not lost his or her constitutional rights is required to call in on a daily basis. If their color is called, they must go in during certain hours and take a drug test. If they are not on color-coded testing, they can just be called in any day or an officer can go to their houses and require them to provide a drug test. The officer can search accused people’s homes and vehicles even though they have not been convicted. They are charged with a crime—misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony—but they still have their constitutional rights. My concern is that we are taking the rights away from people who have not been convicted.

This bill, to me, is somewhat akin to a bill introduced last session regarding DNA testing of anyone arrested for a felony. People have constitutional rights. We cannot stomp on either the U.S. Constitution or the Nevada Constitution.

Chair Segerblom:
If a person does not agree to the conditions of release terms, can he or she stay in jail or post bail?

Ms. Crow:
That is another issue of constitutionality. Bail has to be reasonable, not coercive. You cannot force someone to agree to drug testing to get out of jail.

Chair Segerblom:
If a person refuses to cooperate with the drug testing, does the bail go so high it is impossible for them to pay?

Ms. Crow:
Most of my clients cannot make bail. If the person does not agree to the drug testing conditions, that contributes to the denial of one’s own recognizance release. That is coercion. Who does not want to get out of jail—to go back home, go back to work and support the family? It is coercive to force someone to give up his or her constitutional rights to get out of jail. I am very concerned about the ultimate outcome of this bill.

browerSenator Brower:
The government has enormous power, particularly over those who are arrested. From the law enforcement perspective, these issues have been litigated long ago. It is part of the system and has been upheld by state and federal courts around the Country—that the types of things here do not violate the U.S. Constitution. No less than the U.S. Supreme Court has said that upon arrest, your defense rights are not the same as someone who has not been arrested. Therefore, people can be held in custody in some cases and in other cases, they can be released but on certain conditions. We have litigated these issues, have we not?

DAS is unconstitutional

we the peopleMs. Crow:
There has been litigation. There is a case out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals: United States v. Scott, 450 F.3d 863 (9th Cir. 2005).

The United States District Court for the District of Nevada granted a motion to suppress for evidence that was obtained on supervision. The Ninth Circuit Court upheld the motion to suppress. The United States appealed it to the Ninth Circuit and the State lost.

The head notes of that case refer to constitutional rights of people not convicted and unconstitutional coercive conditions that cannot be imposed.

Senator Brower:
What conditions did the Ninth Circuit decide were unconstitutional?

Ms. Crow:
One head note says pretrial release individuals are not probationers. Probationers have a lesser expectation of privacy than the public at large. People released pending trial, by contrast, have suffered no judicial abridgement of their constitutional rights. Alternitive Sentencing

Senator Brower:
My point is that the issue of whether certain pretrial release conditions are unconstitutional has been litigated. It is a fact of our system that pretrial defendants are sometimes held in custody, their passports are removed, they are subjected to drug testing, etc. That is a bigger issue and not really what this bill is about.

Ms. Crow:
I agree that is not specifically what the bill is about, but it is the ultimate conclusion to this bill. The Ninth Circuit is stating that people not convicted still have constitutional rights, and it is invasive to go into their homes and require them to have search and seizure clause.

Senator Brower:
You are right. Even those who have been convicted have certain constitutional rights. The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution applies to even those who are incarcerated. What the courts have done over centuries is to decide conditions may be imposed that do not violate the Constitution. I respect the rights of you and your clients to challenge certain types of conditions, and it is up to the system to continually hear those challenges and decide whether they meet constitutional muster. The conditions we impose in this State and in the federal system have been determined constitutional by judges.

Chair Segerblom:
In pretrial supervision, if officers find drugs at homes of defendants, can they be prosecuted?

Ms. Crow:
Yes, but they generally are not. My other concern about this bill is that in most of the sections, while it includes new language about pretrial or presentence release, it still labels the person a probationer, which is not accurate.

Chair Segerblom:
We can change that in the bill.

Senator Hutchison:
Is there anything in this bill that is constitutionally infirm?

Ms. Crow:
No.

Mr. Spratley:
We are neutral on this bill because it does not apply to our jurisdiction of Washoe County, but we are in overall support of S.B. 101. Our jail supports the judicial, conditional release of inmates to not only help reduce our inmate population, but also allow those persons who made mistakes and can follow court conditions to be out of custody to live their lives. Without appropriate monitoring, as this bill provides, those conditions most likely would not be met.

Chair Segerblom:
As I understand it, this bill could apply to Washoe County if you opted for it. images

Mr. Spratley:
We do have a Department of Alternative Sentencing in Washoe County, but I am not sure of its role.

Senator Brower:
Is it a fact that without pretrial release, we could not keep every arrestee in custody?

Mr. Spratley:
That is true. Our jail is already 50 inmates shy of maximum capacity. We are always being creative in how we can let the people out whom we believe will follow the program and not continue to reoffend and create victims. This is a huge step in helping us manage our population statewide.

guiltySenator Brower:
Allowing arrestees out on their own recognizance or on bail without conditions does not work either.

Mr. Spratley:
Yes. It would be ludicrous to let arrestees go without some conditions, without them knowing someone may check up on them at any moment. A portion of arrestees will reoffend or drink without those imposed conditions.

Senator Settelmeyer:
Some of the wordsmithing addressed by the testifier in opposition may be found in the amendment. We had a bill a long time ago addressing the issue of the larger counties in the State having a division between the pretrial and the posttrial alternative sentencing departments, and the smaller counties wanted them together since they were already doing it that way. With this bill we are looking for codification for a practice that is already occurring.

Chair Segerblom:
I will close the hearing on S.B. 101 and adjourn the meeting of the Senate Committee on Judiciary at 10:13 a.m.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED
Linda Hiller,
Committee Secretary
APPROVED BY:
Senator Tick Segerblom, Chair

Continue reading

Judicial Ethics Complaint filed against Carson City Judge John Tatro by Ty Robben

nv judicial ethics

Judicial Ethics Complaint filed against Carson City Judge John Tatro by Ty Robben

Commission Case No. _______________________
(For Commission use only)
Carson City Judge John Tatro

Carson City Judge John Tatro

NEVADA COMMISSION ON JUDICIAL DISCIPLINE

VERIFIED STATEMENT OF COMPLAINT

Part I: General Information

Date of This Form: April 06, 2013

Name of Person Completing This Form:  Ty Robben

Mailing Address of Person Completing This Form: CONFIDENTIAL

Daytime Telephone Number To Contact You: CONFIDENTIAL

Part II: Specific Information Regarding Complaint

Name of Nevada Judicial Officer (Only One Name Per Complaint Form): John Tatro.

Name of Court or Judicial District Involved:  Carson City Justice Court.

Case Number (Please Include All Letters and Numbers): 12-5139

This Case Is (Select One): _Pending In Trial Court On Appeal Not Pending or Closed

Nature of Complaint (Select One):   I Have Used The Standard Complaint Supplementary Form

Code of Judicial Conduct Section(s) Violated, If Known [(Example: Canon 3B(4)]:

Canon 1 Rule 1.1ComplianceWith the Law. A judge shall comply with the law, including the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Canon 1 Rule 1.2  PromotingConfidence in the Judiciary. A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

Canon 1 Rule1.3 Avoiding Rule Abuse of the Prestige of Judicial Office. A judge shall not   abuse the prestige of judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others, or allow others to do so.

Canon 2 Rule 2.2 Impartiality and Fairness. A judge shall uphold and apply the law, and shall   perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.

Canon 2 Rule 2.3 Bias, Prejudice, and Harassment.

Canon 2 Rule 2.6 Ensuring the Right to Be Heard.

Canon 2 Rule 2.9 Ex Parte Rule Communications.

Canon 2 Rule 2.11 Disqualification.

Canon 2 Rule 2.14 Disability and Impairment. A judge having a reasonable belief that the   performance of a lawyer or another judge is impaired by drugs or alcohol, or by a mental, emotional, or physical condition, shall take appropriate action, which may include a confidential referral to a lawyer or judicial assistance program.

Canon 2 Rule 2.16 Cooperation With Rule Disciplinary Authorities.

carson city courthouse

carson city courthouse

STANDARD COMPLAINT SUPPLEMENTARY FORM (STATEMENT OF FACTS)

The following is my explanation as to why the judicial officer named in this complaint has violated the Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct or suffers from a disability.

I am [select one]: [X] one of the litigants

The judge did the following things that I believe constitute misconduct (please be as specific as possible about the event or action and attach additional pages, if required).

nevada crime scene

I am writing this judicial ethics compliant against the very, very corrupt and impaired Justice of the Peace (“JP”) John Tatro of the Carson City Justice Court. “JP Tatro is not a well man.” Says my lawyer William Routsis recalling an episode of JP Tatro yelling, frothing at the mouth and lunging over the bench at Mr. Routsis. The incident was caught on the court audio/video. JP Taro has a long history of judicial complaints and violations of the Judicial Code of Conduct (“NCJC”) including a similar complaint in 2006 against JP Tatro by activist Tonja Brown. Ms. Brown and I are both ANTI Corruption activists in Carson City, NV and have protested against the Carson City courthouse. Both of us have had negative experiences with courthouse Department of Alternative Sentencing (“DAS”) $$ A FOR PROFIT ENTERPRISE $$  The DAS is also known as the (“KGB”). Ms. Brown was abused and arrested by the DAS for alleged “trespassing” into the courthouse to refresh herself! The courthouse is a public building.

Judge Tatro Carson City Corruption

Judge Tatro Carson City Corruption

Both Ms. Brown and I have protested and filed complaints against JP Tatro for his flagrant disregard for the law, the constitution and the NCJC as well as using DAS and the Justin Brothers Bail Bondsmen and their “Bounty Hunters” to illegally cross the State line into So. Lake Tahoe, CA and acting in concert with DAS and JP Tatro to act under the color of law and “serve a warrant” for the Carson City, Nevada, Justice Court JP John Tatro and his DAS – illegally and with callous and total disregard for the law and my rights and the rights of others in the State of California.

Judicial ethics complaint filed against Justice of Peace Tatro

Geoff Dornan –  Appeal Capitol Bureau Continue reading

Nevada Intermediate Court of Appeals Amendment – Why not get the lower courts right first?

Nevada is one of only 10 states + DC without an intermediate appellate court. Like many other states, the state’s constitutional article related to the judiciary locks the state into a supreme court, district courts, justice of the peace courts, and (if the legislature approves, which it has), municipal courts. In 1980 and 1992 voters rejected efforts to amend the constitution to allow, but not require, the legislature to create an intermediate appellate. A third attempt in 2010 (Question 2) was rejected 47/53%.

Nevada judges are some of the highest paid in the Nation.

Nevada’s jurists are well compensated in comparison to their counterparts in other states, according to a 2011 report by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). Judges for the state Supreme Court are paid $170,000 annually, which puts Nevada well above the average and 10th on the list of best-paying states. The median salary for state Supreme Court justices across the United States is $146,917.

According to transparentnevada.com Carson City judges are paid (2011) as follows:

John Tatro: $125,707.40 *

Tom Armstrong: $66,393.76 (partial pay from 2011) *

James Todd Russell: $172,080.96 *

James Wilson: $159,561.74 *

Carson City DA Neil Rombardo made $162,641.05 in 2011 *

Carson City Department of “Alternative Sentencing” Chief Rory Planetamade $147,909.99 in 2011. 

Other “Alternative Sentencing” public servants are paid very, very well and others not:

Catherine “Maddog” Summers was paid $113,597.47 in 2011.

Martin Hale was only paid $33,073.80 in 2011.

* This does not include bribes, kickbacks and other RICO Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act – “payments” that remain unreported.

A Carson City Justice/Municipal Court “Judge” (Justice of the Peace “JP”) only requires an education level of a High School Diploma – No higher education is required like say a degree in law!

From Carsonnow.org: The qualifications to be a candidate are established by Nevada State Law, (NRS 4.010) which states that a Justice of the Peace for Carson City must:

— Be a qualified elector

— Not have been removed from judicial office by the Legislature or removed or retired from judicial office by the Commission on Judicial Discipline

— Have a high school diploma or its equivalent as determined by the State Board of Education

— Reside in Carson City

The base pay range for the Justice of the Peace/Municipal Judge is $75,000 to $105,257.36 per year. The actual starting salary will be determined by the Carson City Board of Supervisors and will be based on the successful applicant’s education and experience.

California pays its high court judges the most of any state, with annual salaries of $218,237. But the pay scale varies widely for jurists in Nevada’s other neighboring states. Arizona pays its Supreme Court judges $155,000, while Utah pays them $145,350. The annual salary for high court judges in Oregon is $125,688, while Idaho pays just $119, 506.In general jurisdiction trial courts, Nevada judges are paid $160,000. The state is ranked 8th on the generosity list in this category. he median salary for general trial courts across the United States is $132,500.

The Survey of Judicial Salaries is published by the NCSC with information provided by state court administrative offices across the United States. The NCSC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the modernization of court operations and the improvement of justice at the state and local levels throughout the country. It functions as an extension of the state court systems.

The Nevada Intermediate Court of Appeals Amendment may appear on the 2014 ballot in the state of Nevada as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure would establish an intermediate court of appeals in the state. State Senator Michael Roberson claimed that the state’s courts are overloaded with cases, which is why the measure is being proposed. If approved, the court would use existing facilities to operate. According to reports, the measure’s $1.3 million cost would be used for salaries and other staff requirements.

A similar measure was found on the November 2, 2010 statewide general election ballot, where it was rejected by voters.

Nevada must get its judicial act together before Taxpayers allow millions more tax dollars to fuel the troubled Nevada judicial industrial complex.

Citizens and Taxpayers must demand competent judges that follow the laws and the constitutions of the United States and Nevada.

In January 2012 the Las Vegas Review Journal did a series of stories called “Judging the Judges”: Nevada high court justices again ask for appeals court

See the excellent LVRJ Story here: http://www.lvrj.com/news/judging-the-judges-nevada-high-court-justices-again-ask-for-appeals-court-136498223.html

Here are some of the reader comments:

Nevada judicial reform

Nevada judicial reform

We propose these standards as presented for the worst State, Georgia: http://www.lawlessamerica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=716:candidate-for-judge-introduces-state-legislation-designed-to-reform-the-legal-and-judicial-process-changes-desperately-needed-part-1&catid=104:initiatives&Itemid=105

The business-as-usual methodology in Nevada’s courts must change.  Nevada received a D- grade for CORRUPTION from the Center for public integrity in 2012. The “Judicial Accountability” section got a D+ grade and this is unacceptable and must not be rewarded by expanding an already corrupt system.

Nevada corruption report card 2012

Nevada corruption report card 2012