From Nevada Appeal: Jason Woodbury: Delay on death penalty decision is cause for alarm
Plus, the Rombardo is getting divorced because he screwed one of his employees… See Wild wild west law herehttp://wildwildlaw.blogspot.com/2010/01/friday-open-thread.html
And Carson City Judge John Tatro caught lying on the witness stand – DA Neil Rombardo caught giving Judge John Tatro a “hand job” during testimony! See http://wp.me/p2cFpU-Qd
Note – In 2007 Neil Rombardo DID NOT seek the death penalty in 2007 – The death penalty will not be sought against David Winfield Mitchell, who is charged in the 1982 murder of an 18-year-old woman.
On April 6, police recovered the beaten body of William McCune in the Carson River. Within days, four people were arrested in connection with his murder. On April 10, District Attorney Neil Rombardo issued a press release stating he was considering the death penalty. He said a team would be assembled to help him make his decision.
Three months later, on July 15, KRNV reported that Mr. Rombardo “might know by the end of this week.”
Six weeks later, we’re still waiting.
CARSON CITY, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) — Carson City prosecutors might know by the end of this week whether they will seek the death penalty in the murder of William McCune.
The Carson City District Attorney, Neil Rombardo, told News 4 that he is waiting for the results of the autopsy on McCune before he makes a decision on whether to pursue the death penalty.
Prosecutors believe the 62-year-old McCune was beaten and robbed before his body was bound in duct tape and dumped in the Carson River. He had worked as the head state’s insurance division.
Last Friday, defense attorneys for four people accused in the crime began laying the groundwork for a potential death penalty case. Defense attorneys painted the victim, McCune, as having a “darker side,” asking the judge for permission to obtain court records and information regarding sexual offenses allegedly committed by McCune including information on an arrest of McCune back in 1977 on felony charges of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile and aggravated crime against nature. Both the D.A. and judge agreed to the defense’s request. The defense says this information is key
The defendants in this case are all young, with youngest being age 20. The Washoe County Coroner’s Office is expected to provide information from the medical examiner’s office on how McCune died, including McCune’s toxicology report.
This extreme — virtually unprecedented — delay should alarm Carson City.
Death is different. Ask anyone in the criminal justice system. And while people may debate the death penalty — on both moral and financial terms — there is no debate that current law requires astonishing public expenditures in a capital case. A defendant facing the death penalty is entitled to two attorneys, not just one. Defense attorneys must be “death certified” and paid a higher rate. Dr. Terance Miethe of UNLV determined the trial defense for a single defendant in a capital murder case costs around $200,000 more than a non-capital case. And that is only a portion of the additional costs.
Bound by the law, judges have no meaningful ability to control these expenses. Only the district attorney does. As such, there should be a prompt decision by the D.A. to either pursue the death penalty or not.
Indecision gambles taxpayer dollars on the massive costs of capital procedures in what might be a non-capital case.
While Mr. Rombardo has been mulling the choice in this case, a total of eight attorneys have been appointed to represent the defendants. All are being paid at public expense. At public expense, defense investigators and expert witnesses have been hired.
Through Aug. 15, Carson City taxpayers have paid over $78,000 for the defense. But it’s worse than that. To date, not a single witness has testified and not a single piece of evidence has been presented to a jury.
In fact, a trial is still many months — and hundreds of thousands of dollars — away.
The potential waste of taxpayer money, though maddening, is not even the worst consequence of the district attorney’s indecisiveness. The D.A. might very well be painting himself into a corner, where he sees no choice but to pursue the death penalty rather than accepting responsibility for wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. And that is the real tragedy. The adage is true. Death is different. But the objective in a capital case is the same as every other case — justice. If these four ought to face the ultimate penalty for Mr. McCune’s murder, justice — not political necessity — should dictate that outcome.
Jason Woodbury is an attorney in Carson City. source http://www.nevadaappeal.com/news/opinion/7882483-113/death-penalty-case-capital
Carson City DA Neil Rombardo: A rush to judgement is a real cause for concern
The August 29, 2013 “opinion” questioning the District Attorney’s decision-making in a pending death penalty case reveals a lack of understanding of the criminal justice system.
Whenever a crime occurs where the death penalty must be considered, the law requires the District Attorney’s Office to consider the victim, the community, and the defendant. The real cause for alarm is that anyone would suggest such a decision be rushed.
As a prosecutor, it is a violation of my ethical code to speak of an on-going case. As a result, I will speak of death penalty cases in general terms.
First, as a representative of the people of the State of Nevada, it is an ethical prosecutor’s job to review every piece of evidence, which can amount to thousands of pages, hundreds of photos, and dozens of audio and video recordings before making a decision on whether someone should be put to death by the State.
Second, the law permits a prosecutor to make a decision regarding the death penalty 30 days after the preliminary hearing. Any good prosecutor knows that valuable information is obtained during a preliminary hearing — information that should be considered when someone has been murdered and someone else’s life is at stake.
Third, the Nevada Supreme Court requires a defendant to receive two lawyers for every murder until a decision has been made regarding the death penalty. However, what is lost upon the opinion writer is that it is common place for two attorneys to be appointed to a murder case whether the death penalty is being considered or not.
And, in the long run, the use of two attorneys actually saves taxpayer’s dollars because appeal issues are reduced at the beginning of the process, which is where the real money is spent on these types of cases. Fourth, and here is where it is easy for senseless political attacks, the opinion writer is wholly unaware of what this administration does to resolve these types of cases in a manner that insures justice and saves taxpayer’s dollars.
For example, just this morning, as a result of lengthy negotiations between the District Attorney’s Office and defense counsel, two of the four defendants in the case mentioned by the opinion writer elected to waive their preliminary hearing in accordance with a resolution of the case. In the end, the facts will show that this Office did the right thing by seeking justice for the victim, the victim’s family, the community, and the defendant or defendants in a cost-effective manner.
With regard to the use of taxpayer’s dollars, the current District Attorney’s administration has created the following: (1) victim-witness services to help victims and witnesses navigate their way through the judicial process; (2) the Gang Response Intervention, Prevention, and Suppression (GRIPS) program, which has decreased violent gang activity in Carson City and created community outreach programs to prevent future gang members; (3) the Stop Abuse of the Vulnerable and Elderly (SAVE) program, which raises awareness about abuse of the vulnerable and elderly and has resulted in the successful investigation and prosecution of those who prey on the vulnerable and elderly; (4) vertical prosecution which is a system where the same prosecutor handles a case from beginning to end which reduces costs and promotes efficient use of personnel and resources, and (5) at the encouragement of the District Attorney, the Board of Supervisors voted to become self-insured allowing the city to manage its own risk. All of these policies and decisions have resulted in increased services to the citizens of Carson City and saved taxpayer’s dollars. These same policies further demonstrate fiscally responsible leadership on criminal justice issues and legal public policy issues.
In conclusion, ask yourself this, “If my loved one was murdered or my loved one faced the death penalty, would I want the District Attorney to do the right thing, or would I want him to rush his decision?” The opinion writer suggests the decision should be rushed. I stand by our decision to do the right thing.
Neil A. Rombardo
Carson City District Attorney
The death penalty will not be sought against David Winfield Mitchell, who is charged in the 1982 murder of an 18-year-old woman.
The notice was filed in Carson City District Court in Nevada last Wednesday stating Mitchell will not face a sentence of death if convicted on the charge of open murder in the killing of Sheila Jo Harris. Mitchell pleaded not guilty to the charge on December 18.
Harris, 18, was found beaten, sexually assaulted and strangled on January 6, 1982, in the bedroom of her Lompa Lane apartment for which Mitchell was a handyman.
Jury selection in Mitchell’s month-long trial will begin on April 3. Mitchell, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, was arrested on August 18 last year by international police on the Caribbean island, after DNA comparison in 2000 allegedly resulted in a match between evidence found on Harris’ body and clothing and samples of saliva and blood obtained from Mitchell by warrant in the 1980s.
Harris’ former boyfriend and Mitchell were both suspects in the 1982 murder, but investigators were unable to find physical evidence linking them to the crime.
Mitchell was arrested in 1986, but the charges were dismissed in 1987 with a right to refile because of a lack of evidence. He is being held in the Carson City Jail without bail.
Mitchell, 61, a retired Ministry of Works foreman, was arrested on August 18 at Rock City, Laventille, by members of the local Interpol Branch. Mitchell denied having any contact with Harris outside of asking her if she wanted her name on her door when she moved in, according to court records. Newly appointed District Judge Todd Russell, 59, will preside over the case and newly elected District Attorney Neil Rombardo will be in charge of the prosecution.
Shortly after the 1982 murder, Mitchell was deported to his native Trinidad. He had been in the US illegally. After the DNA results were received in 2000, Mitchell’s whereabouts were unknown. In 2003, investigators tracked down Mitchell’s ex-wife in Hawthorne, USA, who said she last contacted the fugitive in Trinidad in 2000.
In January 2005, Interpol, with the assistance of the TT police, found Mitchell living in Mount Hope, Trinidad. He was working as a nightwatchman for the Ministry of Works and Transport. In January last year, a murder charge was formally laid against Mitchell and filed in the Carson City Justice Court in Nevada.