Judge faces vehicular manslaughter charge in fatal accident
December 6, 2013
A Douglas County district judge was charged Friday in connection with the death of a bicyclist in an Aug. 20 collision.
Douglas County District Judge Michael Gibbons faces a charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, District Attorney Mark Jackson said Friday.
Gibbons, 57, is scheduled to appear Jan. 13 in East Fork Justice Court.
According to the Nevada Highway Patrol, Gibbons was driving west on Pinenut Road in a Subaru when he turned right onto East Valley Road. Joseph A. Longo also was westbound on Pinenut, approaching the same intersection.
The bicycle and the right rear portion of Gibbons’ vehicle made contact, throwing Longo, who was not wearing a helmet, to the ground, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol.
Nevada law requires drivers give bicyclists 3 feet right of way.
Gibbons attorney, David R. Houston, questioned whether Jackson should be handling the case.
“We are surprised and disappointed that the local district attorney has decided to file charges,” Houston said. “We thought the case should be handled by a prosecutor from outside of Douglas County. We believe that this case is more properly resolved in a civil court because our accident reconstruction has shown that Judge Gibbons did not hit the bicyclist. This is a tragic incident for all.”
Jackson said he believed that it was appropriate for him to prosecute the case, pointing out that his office has pursued other cases involving family members of county officials.
If convicted, Gibbons faces a mandatory fine of $250-$1,000, mandatory community service of 50-99 hours, and up to six months in the county jail.