From the LVRJ: Clark County's chief judge on Thursday tossed a contempt case against the 54-year-old mother of a murder defendant who was held in jail for 10 days without bail or a hearing for borrowing a juror's cellphone during the trial.
Gina Dotson, of California, was arrested in January for contempt after District Judge Michelle Leavitt learned of the incident and feared it could lead to jury tampering.
Nevada law calls for an immediate hearing when a judge issues a contempt order. However, Dotson was not given a hearing at the time of the incident.
At least three hearings before Leavitt were scheduled and delayed during the 10-day period, while Dotson languished in jail violating criminal procedure that mandates in-custody defendants appear before a judge 72 hours after being arrested. She was finally freed Feb. 2.
After Chief Judge Jennifer Togliatti dismissed the case Wednesday, Dotson's attorney Alzora Jackson said "the judge (Leavitt) violated the law" and called the situation "improper."
Dotson's only chance to be heard in the case will likely have to come through a civil lawsuit.
Leavitt has said she didn't want to hold a hearing unless Dotson had an attorney representing her. She said she referred the case to the public defenders office. "I can't control what an attorney does after I appoint them," Leavitt said at the fourth scheduled hearing on the matter on Feb. 2.
Dotson was contacted by a deputy public defender one time by phone while in the Clark County Detention Center.
Unlike what other people think, I think the murderer's mom did ask the juror for his cell phone on purpose and what does it say about the jury pool that the juror in question asks for a cigarette in return?
But the mom should never been held in jail without a hearing. But in 99.9% of the cases, you cannot sue a judge because they are immune. Maybe in this case, it will be the .1% and the public defenders office isn't innocent in this matter either. They should have worked harder to get her released.
But welcome to justice, Las Vegas style.
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