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Legal Ethics

Judge Blasts Crotch Photo Snapped by Whistle-Blower Prosecutors; DA Files Ethics Complaint

Posted Dec 21, 2011 9:08 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An embattled judge in Las Vegas is turning the tables on two whistle-blowing prosecutors by condemning their evidence gathering methods: a clandestine crotch photo intended to show a budding romantic relationship.

In court papers filed Tuesday, Family Court Judge Steven Jones called for a criminal investigation of two prosecutors who snapped the picture, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. According to the newspaper, the photo appears to show the judge’s hand moving toward or away from the leg of prosecutor Lisa Willardson. Jones banned the two photographer prosecutors from his courtroom after the incident.

The court documents claim the two prosecutors took the photo of the judge’s crotch under the table while engaging in "alcohol-influenced speculation” during a restaurant retirement party on Halloween. "The salacious tale spun by the state with regard to this alleged relationship is a red herring designed to deflect attention from the state's own unprofessional, unethical and adolescent and possibly criminal conduct," according to the document filed by Jones’ lawyer, James Jimmerson. The court papers deny that Willardson and Jones were in a relationship at any time when Willardson appeared in his courtroom.

After the photographic evidence came to light, Clark County District Attorney David Roger barred Willardson from handling cases before Jones and then fired her last week, the newspaper says. Roger told the newspaper he filed an ethics complaint with the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline on Tuesday. The subject: the judge’s relationship with Willardson and his conduct after it was exposed.

Jimmerson told the Review-Journal the ethics complaint against his client is groundless.

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