For Immediate Release:
Steve Sanson President Veterans In Politics International 702 283 8088
A BROKEN SYSTEM: Another form of Law Enforcement violating Clark County Citizens Civil and Constitutional Rights!
Las Vegas, Nevada: In August 2011, Monica Contreras went to Family Court with her 2-year-old daughter in a routine divorce case; her husband filed for a temporary restraining order yet failed to show in court so the order was denied. According to internal court documents, as Contreras was leaving, Family Court Marshal Ron Fox ordered her into a waiting room for a drug search. This was the first violation of Monica’s Constitutional Rights (1).
Fourth Amendment rights and law enforcement’s legal obligations to protect these rights in any given scenario are numerous. However, in most cases, unless there is a valid search or arrest warrant, a police officer may NOT search or seize an individual or their property unless the officer has a belief rising to the level of “probable cause” that an individual has committed a crime. In this event, a search of Monica’s person or property was entirely unwarranted.
Following the unwarranted search of her person, Contreras returned to the courtroom and reported her ordeal to presiding Judge Doninger. While Fox continued to illegally rummage through her handbag, Contreras told Doninger her requests to have a female Marshal handle the search were ignored.
A visibly shaken and clearly offended Contreras is seen on tape telling Judge Doninger that Fox touched her buttocks and her breast then ordered her to lift up her shirt. A later internal investigation by the courts validated these claims. This is yet another violation of Contreras’ human and civil rights because undergoing a TSA search, one is never asked to ‘lift up their shirt’, and even upon arrest and booking, one is not asked to disrobe or lift their garments for the purpose of a search.
The Code of Judicial Conduct states, “A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary (3). Thereby, a report of misconduct committed by a Court Marshall should have been addressed immediately, and certainly further violations of her rights should not have been condoned.
Yet Doninger ignored her pleas and looked away as Contreras protested, “I was just offended by it… I’m just offended that he asked me to do that”. The Judge made no reasonable effort to establish eye contact or communicate with Contreras. She made no attempt to cease the illegal search nor did she confront Cox with the allegations taking place in her courtroom.
Incredulously, Fox is then heard saying, “Okay, so the story stands; handcuff her”, while he waves a dismissive thumb at Marshal James Kenyon and continues the unwarranted search of her handbag, all without protest from the Judge. The video shows Kenyon preparing to arrest Contreras, wherein she pleads, “For what, sir? Why would I be arrested? Can you please tell me?”
It is seen at 1:52 minutes on the 4:58 of the recorded video, that Fox actually directs the Judge to standby shortly after she scratches her nose to allow this travesty of justice to take place in her courtroom. It is shocking indeed (11)
About that, ‘story that stands’ – with which to cuff and arrest her – is unknown. It’s clear on the video tape there is no ‘story’ apart from the one Contreras is conveying, which is that she’s been violated by a Court Marshall.
Marshal Kenyon is heard telling Contreras to turn around and put her hands behind her back, while Contreras continues to ask why she is being arrested. Abrasively, Marshall Fox replies, “Because of false allegations made against a police officer”.
If Judge Doninger failed to step in prior to this point, this is where she allowed things to go horrifically wrong. This is the third circumstance of the violation of Contreras’ rights, specifically the Fourth & Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution (4).
Search and seizure (including arrest) should be limited in scope according to specific information supplied to the issuing court, usually by a law enforcement officer, who has sworn by it, and the Fourth Amendment applies to the states by way of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Yet the Judge sat idly, playing with Contreras’ daughter while another travesty of justice unfolded in her courtroom.
There are several other reasons where we can find this search was unwarranted: 1) because anyone admitted into the Courthouse has already gone through a search and scan. 2) because Contreras was leaving (not entering) a Family (not drug) Court. And 3) the judge never ordered the search; it was unilaterally decided by Fox that Contreras should be searched before she was free to go.
It should also be noted that making false allegations against a police officer is NOT an offense for which one can be arrested. Indeed, false statements or allegations against anyone are dealt with in the same (civil) manner, citizen or law enforcement officer alike, in accordance with the First Amendment to Free Speech. This was yet another violation of Contreras’ Constitutional rights.
Law enforcement officers have only the right to bring civil suit against any person for damages suffered during the performance of their official duties, for abridgment of the officer’s civil rights arising out of the performance of official duties, or for filing a complaint against the officer which the person knew was false when it was filed.
If Fox felt like Contreras was making a false statement against him, his course of action would be to file suit in a Civil Court. Of all those present, the Judge realized this much.
Nevada Revised Statutes indicates the only crime punishable by arrest for false statements is under NRS 357, “Submission of False Claims Made to State & Local Government” (2). Once again Judge Doninger failed this citizen by breach of conduct in her own courtroom.
It’s also highly unlikely a sexual assault victim can be placed under arrest by the alleged assaulter. If there were any doubts as to the legality of this arrest, the Judge should have noted this conflict of interest and stepped in to cease the arrest immediately (3).
After attempts by the Marshals to get Contreras to recant on the record, she capitulated, saying on the recorded tapes, “Let me go. It was all lies. I don’t want to deal with anything. It was all lies. All lies. All lies. All lies. Please stop,” she said. And then Fox tells Contreras the only way she can avoid going to jail is to step up to the microphone and recant her allegations.
Contreras agreed, but, in a courageous last stand, she did the opposite. Believing that once in front of a microphone, on an official recorded proceeding, in a Court of Law, for which her taxpayer money is funded, she could count on her judicial system to uphold her rights, she said to Fox, “You put me in a room. You asked me to lift up my shirt without a witness,”
There was more she had to say, but Fox interrupted and said, “Okay, take her to jail.” All the while, the two-year old daughter is heard rambling about the courtroom, protesting in an infantile way, “Sir, don’t take away my momma”, and “This is my Mommy”.
This little girl is likely scarred for life having watched this unfold. Reports have yet to confirm how long Monica was held in custody and for how long she needed await reuniting with her little girl, remanded, unlawfully into state custody.
Contreras kissed her daughter before being detained and sent through the hellacious process of the Clark County Detention Center. Her daughter was taken from her and sent to Child Haven. Two months later, Contreras filed a complaint with Court Marshal Internal Affairs.
Sources tell that investigators were shocked they hadn’t heard of the alleged courthouse sexual assault from Family Court. After a six-month internal affairs investigation, Fox was fired, yet no one from Clark County courts told Contreras her claims were validated. She only recently discovered from an investigative reporter that her rights had indeed been violated.
The Clark County court administration released a statement reading: “Court personnel are prohibited from commenting on the video because it’s a personnel matter (and) when the actions of any court employee are called into question, the court immediately responds by conducting a fair, thorough investigation and, upon completion, taking appropriate action.”
This is not a personnel matter; this is a matter of a taxpayer-funded broken judicial and policing system otherwise accountable to the citizenry. This is our government and transparency is a must. After two long years, this story is finally coming to light?!
In the meanwhile we’ve been paying for six-figure salaries, benefits, pension funds, union dues, union administration salaries, attorney fees, legal department salaries and associated benefits, at least two high-powered law firms on retainer and paid administrative leave, plus their legal expenses once finally relieved of duty (thru the PPA). This is not a personnel matter at all, not by a long shot (12).
As if this were not shocking enough, Fox, under protection of the taxpayer funded PPA, maintains his innocence and is suing Clark County for wrongful termination – another attorney bill, another set of court costs passed on to the taxpayer for police misconduct. Fox’s attorney declined an on-camera interview but claims the arrest of Contreras was legal because “nobody in the courtroom tried to stop him”. Pass the buck… sound familiar?
It all comes down to more money out of our taxpayer coffers… that much less to spend on education or infrastructure, on Head Start Programs or assistance to the working poor, or on parks and libraries.
When two uniformed public servants and a judge are willing to violate multiple human, civil and Constitutional rights laws, knowing they are being video-taped, it would seem the justice and policing system feels they are above the law. And we can interpret that this system, for which we pay dearly, is beyond redemption.
The LVMPD and our judiciary system routinely violates, brutalizes and destroys the lives of our citizens, while they demand ever more increasing budgets for their Police State and Military Style Assault Tactics of Shoot First, Ask Questions Later. How many of our working class citizens are being targeted we must wonder… those who don’t come to light.
These public servants on six-figure salaries with Police Protective Associations (aka Unions) and multiple high-powered attorney firms held on retainer, all at taxpayer expense are out of control. Most Clark County taxpayers are not aware of the cost. They are no longer here to “protect and serve”, but to perceive us as the threat; a potential profit for the Privatized Prison System.
State and local police departments are increasingly accepting the military as the model for their behavior and outlook. The problem is that the mindset of the soldier is not appropriate for the civilian police officer, who confronts, not an enemy, but the civilian protected under the Bill of Rights (5).
It should be noted that Judge Doninger has a barrage of disparaging remarks made about her, dating back to May 2008 entered on the Lawyer Rating website (6).
These bullying gangs and sexual deviants are alive and well, even in our courtrooms with elected officials presiding. So confident are they as to falsely search, sexually violate, incriminate and arrest an innocent citizen then remand her child into state custody. Need we yet another illustration we do not employ the services of public servants but those of brutes and criminals intent on our demise?
Perhaps the defense being arranged on Officer Roston’s behalf, already recommended for discharge is something one should find of interest? (8) If not then taxpayers should be aware that the LVMP Fiscal Affairs Committee has paid a yearly average of $4.5M over the past three years under the leadership of Sheriff Gillespie, with suits over this past fiscal year amounting to more than $6M (9).
The constituents of Clark County are deeply concerned over the logic used in determining that the Collective Bargaining Contract, under NRS 288, which allows for LVMPD to retain officers on the Executive Board, is to be paid wholly with tax payer money as though they were Police Officers or providing duties for the public. These Executive Board members cost taxpayers $1M/year (10).
All of this is part and parcel for an arrogant military style police force that acts with impunity because they are guaranteed – they are beyond reproach.
Still, law-abiding citizens should be made to feel safe, especially in a court of law. When a judge first allows an illegal search to take place, then disregards complaints of sexual misconduct and finally bears witness to an officer perjuring himself with impunity in her courtroom…
The assumption that any of our elected or appointed justice officials will uphold the law is deeply compromised. Thereby our expectation of our uniformed officers to follow any law(s) is a fanciful notion indeed.
Corruption in American law enforcement and the judicial process is pervasive and tolerated until the public takes a stand and holds those responsible for upholding the law accountable to the law. Unless and until this happens, said officials will continue to sweep things under the rug, proffer worn-out excuses, and promise changes that never come about, while a few minions get the proverbial slap on the wrist replete with paid leave.
And here in Clark County we will pay for all of this as well as the Police Protective Association and high-powered attorney representation to the tune of tens of millions each year, and the process begins anew… taxpayer expense while we find ways to shut down alternative energy resources and leave broken county governments to pay for desks and teachers for our kids.
Unless and until we get angry enough, this is a cyclical and ever-devolving situation; one that is deleterious to our Democratic Republic. We are meant to endure austerity cuts to our education, infrastructure, research and development, while corporate profits soar? Equity in our homes has declined and we continue the struggle with household debt trying to keep up with a rigged system that has wages falling ever more behind the cost of living?
Yet while unemployment rises and communities fail… we can still count on a well-funded, taxpayer-insured six-figure salaries, high-powered attorney-backed, Biggest Gang In Brown. Tired of this yet?
(1) Search & Seizure Rights: http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-rights/search-and-seizure-and-the-fourth-amendment.html#sthash.qVVthpMn.dpuf
(2) Table of Titles & Chapters, Nevada Revised Statutes: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/
(3) Canon 1, Code of Judicial Conduct. http://www.americanbar.org
(4) U.S. Constitution Fourth & Fourteenth Amendment Rights http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution
(5) Warrior Cops: The Ominous Growth of Paramilitaries in American Police Departments. http://www.cato.org/publications/briefing-paper/warrior-cops-ominous-growth-paramilitarism-american-police-departments
(6) Lawyer rating, 1.2 out of 5, an overall Poor Rating for Patricia Doninger http://www.lawyerratingz.com/ratings/6537/Lawyer+Patricia-Doninger.html
(7) More People Wrongfully Jailed: Contact 13 Investigates, May 2013. http://www.ktnv.com/contact13/investigations/206492531.html
(8) Executive Director Chris Collins Directs a Vigorous Defense for Officer Roston: http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1102445029798-238/req.+dv+info.pdf
(9) Full Report on Finances: www.clarkcountynv.gov/depts/finance
(10) Letter from Concerned Citizens & Taxpayers to Carson City, 77th Legislative Session, 19 March 2003, Author T. Price: http://fb.liox.eu/index.php?p=ed82e3d4e3e202dffb0b5ef4404407e0
(11) Cop Sexually Assaults Woman Then Arrests Her For Protesting in Court http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6Yos2f8-zQ
(12) Las Vegas/Clark County Salary Tracker: http://www2.8newsnow.com/salaries/search.php?type=all&limit=20&agency=lvmpd
(13) Officer Hall of Shame – YES, you pay for this! http://clarkcountycriminalcops.wordpress.com/the-clark-county-police-officer-hall-of-shame/