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Judge Valorie Vega says ethics charges lack merit

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Steve Marcus

Judge Valorie Vega presides over the trial of Victor Fakoya at the Regional Justice Center on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010.

Updated Friday, June 8, 2012 | 3:09 p.m.

Clark County District Judge Valorie Vega said Friday she intends to fight state judicial ethics charges filed against her, saying the claims lack merit.

The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline announced Friday that three counts of judicial misconduct were filed June 5 against Vega. She is accused of manipulating the schedule of a 2010 child abuse murder retrial so it didn't conflict with her personal schedule.

If allegations against a judge are founded, the commission has wide latitude in meting out discipline, which could range from no sanctions to requiring a judge to take an educational course to censuring or removing a judge from office, a commission spokesman said.

The charges, filed by Mary E. Boesch, special prosecutor, involve the trial and retrial of Victor Fakoya, who was eventually acquitted of a child abuse murder charge in the death of the daughter of a friend staying with his family.

The ethics charges partly stem from Vega keeping the jury overnight to reach a verdict in Fakoya's retrial. Juries are regularly dismissed at the end of a workday and asked to return the next morning to continue deliberations.

According to the complaint, to accommodate her personal schedule, Vega kept the jury, the attorneys and staff to conduct proceedings for almost 18 hours — from 1:12 p.m. on Dec. 16, 2010, until the jury returned with its acquittal verdict at 6:57 a.m. Dec. 17, 2010.

The complaint also alleges that during Fakoya's retrial, the judge recessed court in the early afternoon six times so she could attend her daughter's high school soccer games.

One of those recesses cost Clark County extra funds and inconvenienced an out-of-state expert witness who had to stay an extra day to finish his testimony, according to the complaint.

Vega declined an interview but issued a statement Friday morning.

"During my nearly 23 years serving on the bench, I have enjoyed an impeccable reputation," Vega wrote. "I strive to fulfill my job duties in accordance with the Judicial Cannons of Ethics.

"During my 259th trial as a District Court Judge, which was the retrial of the State v. Fakoya at the end of 2010, a series of factors combined and caused some procedural irregularities.

"I look forward to the opportunity to provide a full presentation on all of the relevant facts. I am confident that the facts will show that the claims lack merit, and further demonstrate that my intent was to preserve the jury, prevent a second mistrial for this case and administer justice."

David Sarnowski, executive director of the state’s Commission on Judicial Discipline, said Vega will have until June 28 to formally answer the charges.

The burden will be on the special prosecutor to prove the charges, and the judge is entitled to a full hearing, he said. The hearing before the commission would be held in Las Vegas.

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  1. Read the full charges and they are just that, charges.

    IF she is found guilty of those charges I personally feel she should be removed from the bench.

    Until she receives her hearing she can not be found guilty though.

    I guess some feel that "Innocent until proven guilty" is only for some.

  2. Ever notice about once a week some judge or lawyer in Nevada is getting in serious trouble? See the viral video on Nevada corruption CSI: Carson city: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4juUJdlr...

  3. I don't think she'll be skating away from this!

  4. "Clark County District Judge Valorie Vega said Friday she intends to fight state judicial ethics charges filed against her, saying the claims lack merit."

    Toplikar -- thanx for a peek under what the judiciary wants swept under the rug. The usual refuge of every ignorant yet arrogant judge is "claims lack merit." Vega seems to epitomize the extremely low quality of the average sitting judge.

    "What she did was outright the most self serving and total disregard for the system."

    artswanson -- remember Halverson? Vega is an angel compared to Jabba the Judge. Tragically, few of us understand how "the system" has been thoroughly corrupted by these black-robed tyrants. They violate their oaths constantly, totally disregard the Rule of Law, and destroy lives daily with their pens. And why not? What can you do besides beg another judge to side with you in the byzantine ritual of appeals? "The system" you mentioned is the one We the people Constituted and the statutes lawfully made therefrom. Visit any courtroom and watch the corruption in our name ruin lives, almost always in the name of filthy lucre. Liberty and justice are merely cheap commodities in the hands of those we've entrusted them to.

    "I guess some feel that "Innocent until proven guilty" is only for some."

    vegaslee -- that only applies to criminal charges. Vega faces nothing more than getting booted from her cushy job.

    ".....The world revolves around the judges. They see to it."

    BChap -- for once we're in total agreement

    A bit of trivia for y'all -- some 19th century law dictionaries defined "prostitution" included judges selling their offices to the highest bidder.

    "The legal system has also been wounded by lawyers who themselves no longer respect the rule of law ..... When lawyers cannot be trusted to observe the fair processes essential to maintaining the rule of law, how can we expect the public to respect the process?" -- the Honorable Edith Jones to Harvard's Federalist Club "American Legal System Is Corrupt Beyond Recognition, Judge Tells Harvard Law School" 2/28/03

  5. "The job of a judge is somewhat unique. They must posses the ability to suspend judgement, the ability to remove thier own bias, natural to us all, from the process. To render judgement only on the issue and evidence in front of them."

    PROBABILITYW -- good post, mostly. The office of a judge is to judge -- literally to speak the law (that's what "jurisdiction" translates to) -- and to do it according to the well-settled principles portrayed by the blind lady justice statute. You get to pick which version, with or without the exposed breast.

    Sadly, judges do what they do mostly out of the public eye, and there's next to no public accountability for it. They seem to like it that way. Last time I walked into a local courtroom a skinhead marshal ran me out for just sitting down. I repeat what I've posted here many times -- if the average citizen had a clue how low the actual quality is of the average sitting judge, there would be that revolution Jefferson is reputed to have urged.

    "Makes you feel ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game." -- Bob Dylan "Hurricane"