The following article was accepted as an Op-Ed by the Las Vegas Tribune for its May 29, 2013 issue.
Sandra DiGiacomo Hasn’t Exhibited The Integrity Necessary To Be A Judge
By Hans Sherrer*
A judge makes decisions that directly affect the life and property of the persons who appear before him or her. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled a judge cannot be sued by anyone harmed by a judge’s negligent or malicious acts. Consequently, a judgeship is a position of public trust that requires a particularly high degree of integrity.
Sandra DiGiacomo is a candidate for Henderson Municipal Court Judge Department 1. I submit that while employed as a prosecutor in the Clark County District Attorney’s Office Ms. DiGiacomo has not exhibited the integrity necessary to be a judge.
The record of Ms. DiGiacomo’s conduct as one of the prosecutors in a case now before the Nevada Supreme Court illustrates how she misused her public position to conceal the truth from the judge, the jury, and defense lawyers involved, and when the truth was exposed she tried to cover-up the magnitude of her dishonest conduct. That case is Kirstin Blaise Lobato v. Nevada, N.S.C. Case no. 58913.
During Ms. Lobato’s trial in 2006 the following exchange took place during Ms. DiGiacomo’s examination of Metro Crime Lab DNA technician Kristina Paulette:
Q. Now, directing your attention to this case, were you asked to do any DNA analysis?
A. [By Ms. Paulette] Yes, I was.
Q. What was that?
A. I was asked to examine a pubic hair combing from the sexual assault kit.
Q. And that was taken from a person by the name of Duran Bailey?
Q. Okay. Were you asked to test anything else within the kit itself?
A. No, I was not.” [Trans. XI-145, 9-25-2006]
Ms. Paulette proceeded to testify Ms. Lobato was excluded as the source of DNA recovered from the pubic hair.
Seven days later Ms. Paulette testified as a defense witness when Ms. Lobato’s lawyers discovered that additional DNA testing had in fact been conducted. That testing excluded Ms. Lobato as the source of DNA on two cigarette butts recovered from the crime scene. The following exchange took place between defense lawyer Shari Greenberger and Ms. Paulette:
“Q. When you previously testified, do you recall the prosecution asking you whether you tested anything within the sexual assault kit itself besides the pubic hair?
A. [By Ms. Paulette] Yes, I do.
Q. Do you recall your answer?
Q. What was it?
A. I only tested the pubic hair combing.
Q. Do you also recall testifying that you weren’t asked to retest any other items?
A. Yes.” [Trans. XVI-52, 10-2-2006]
When asked “Who submitted that request?” Ms. Paulette stated, “Ms. DiGiacomo.” [Trans. XVI-37, 10-2-2006]
Ms. Paulette also testified the testing of the cigarette butts began eight days before she had previously testified she had not been asked to do additional testing.
Ms. DiGiacomo objected 16 times during Ms. Paulette’s testimony as a defense witness. She even objected to introduction of Ms. Paulette’s Report about the DNA testing she had denied being asked to conduct when questioned by Ms. DiGiacomo a week earlier.
It is a matter of public record Ms. Paulette lied when she testified that she hadn’t been “asked to test anything else” in response to Ms. DiGiacomo’s question, and that Ms. DiGiacomo knew she was lying because she was the person who requested the testing. Yet she remained silent. It wasn’t an isolated incident or lapse in character because Ms. Lobato’s appeal now before the Nevada Supreme Court documents more than 100 other instances of Ms. DiGiacomo’s efforts to mislead the jury. [N.S.C. No. 58913, 9 App. 1825-1835]
Ms. Paulette got her comeuppance when she was fired in May 2011 for lying to a Metro Crime Lab supervisor about DNA testing in a case unrelated to Ms. Lobato’s. Ms. DiGiacomo did not experience any negative repercussions for bringing forth Ms. Paulette’s false testimony during Ms. Lobato’s trial, and then trying to mask it from the jury when it was exposed as false. One can only hope the voters of Henderson don’t make the mistake of rewarding Ms. DiGiacomo’s apparent lack of integrity by electing her to be a judge, which will allow her to act without fear of being sued by anyone she harms.
* Hans Sherrer is the editor and publisher of Justice Denied: the magazine for the wrongly convicted that has reported on the Kirstin Lobato case. Justice Denied is based in Seattle, Washington.