Judge accused of violating judicial ethics | NevadaAppeal.com

Judge accused of violating judicial ethics

LAS VEGAS (AP) – District Judge Donald Mosley says he will fight a complaint by the state Judicial Discipline Commission that alleges he misused his office by giving a criminal defendant special treatment in return for his help in a child custody case.

The complaint filed Wednesday also accuses Mosley of doing a judicial favor for a friend who supported him in his custody battle over his son and of improperly writing personal letters on court stationery.

He has 20 days to answer the charges. He can ask for a hearing, which must be public and must be held within 60 days.

Mosley said he would ”absolutely” contest the complaint.

”I would love to present my side,” Mosley said, adding that he is researching to see if he can comment publicly on the pending case.

If the commission finds ”willful misconduct” on the charges, Mosley could be removed from office or face lesser penalties such as censure, a public reprimand or a fine.

The complaint, brought by special prosecutor Mary Boetsch, a Reno attorney and former chairwoman of the state Ethics Commission, accuses Mosley of several violations of the judicial code of ethics, including having improper conversations with criminal defendants or their representatives who had ties to his child custody case.

Mosley said the ethics complaint was sparked by he and his former girlfriend’s long and heated custody battle over their son.

One of the most serious allegations against the judge involves conversations he had with attorney Catherine Ann Woolf, who represented Joseph McLaughlin, who was awaiting sentencing by Mosley on charges of robbery and burglary.

Mosley, according to the complaint, met privately with Woolf on Aug. 14, 1997, and talked about the potential testimony McLaughlin and his wife could provide for Mosley in the child custody dispute. McLaughlin and his wife, Debbie, had briefly lived with the mother of Mosley’s son.

Seven days later, the complaint says, Mosley met with Woolf and McLaughlin in the offices of Las Vegas attorney Carl Lovell, who was representing the judge in the custody case. The complaint says there were more conversations about the potential testimony that McLaughlin and his wife could provide to help Mosley.

Mosley twice refused to step aside on the McLaughlin criminal case. Then on Oct. 10, 1997, the judge recused himself from the case, only after the McLaughlins had testified on his behalf at the custody hearing. The complaint alleges neither of the McLaughlins knew the judge planned to recuse himself.

McLaughlin was sentenced by another judge to three to 10 years in prison. Later Mrs. McLaughlin talked with Mosley about her husband being in the same prison as a co-defendant against whom he had testified. Mosley contacted the prison at least once to try to get McLaughlin transferred.

The complaint also said Mosley interceded on behalf of Mrs. McLaughlin to get a car returned from a third party, even though he had recused himself from the case.

The complaint said Mosley continued to ”engage in contacts and conduct including interceding for their benefit and such conduct created the appearance that you were rewarding them for assisting you in your custody dispute.”

The discipline commission’s complaint also accuses Mosley of doing a judicial favor for another friend who had testified on his behalf in the custody case. The complaint alleges that in August 1999 the judge had ex parte conversations with Barbara Orcutt, a longtime friend, concerning the arrest and release of Robert D’Amore, who had been arrested on theft charges.