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Oct 04

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Judge William Kephart Is Reprimanded For Publicly Advocating Kirstin Lobato Is Guilty

“Judge William Kephart is reprimanded for publicly advocating Kirstin Lobato is guilty,”
is a front-page news story in the Las Vegas Tribune’s October 4, 2017 issue.

Las Vegas Tribune’s front page for October 4, 2017 issue

Las Vegas Tribune’s front page for October 4, 2017 issue

The news story details that Clark County District Court Judge William Kephart has been publicly reprimanded by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline after he admitted to committing five misconduct charges filed against him on May 9, 2017.

Kephart was the lead prosecutor when Ms. Lobato was convicted in 2006 of voluntary manslaughter and other charges related to the July 2001 homicide of Duran Bailey in Las Vegas.

In May 2010 Lobato filed a habeas corpus petition in the Clark County District Court that included new evidence she is actually innocent. Her habeas case is currently pending in the District Court.

Kephart was elected a District Court judge in November 2014, and at the time of the interview Lobato’s habeas corpus case was pending.

The misconduct charges were based on Kephart’s public interference in Kirstin Lobato’s case during an on-camera interview that was broadcast on February 29, 2016, by KSNV News 3 in Las Vegas. During the interview Kephart advocated for Ms. Lobato’s guilt and defended the correctness of her convictions.

Kephart avoided a public hearing by admitting to the charges and agreeing to the punishment of a public reprimand.

The news story is on the LV Tribune’s website at, LasVegasTribune.net. The article was written by Hans Sherrer, Justice Denied’s editor and publisher.

Click here to read the “Stipulation And Order Of Consent To Public Reprimand” on the Commissions’ website. The Stipulation and Order is signed by Kephart.

Click here to read the Formal Statement Of Charges filed on May 9, 2017 that details the charges Kephart has admitted he committed.

Information about Kirstin Lobato’s case is on Justice Denied’s Kirstin Blaise Lobato’s case webpage.

October 4, 2017
By Hans Sherrer
Justice Denied

 

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The full text of the article published in the October 4-10, 2017 issue of the Las Vegas Tribune article follows:

 

Judge William Kephart Reprimanded For Publicly Advocating Kirstin Lobato Is Guilty

By Hans Sherrer
Justice Denied (justicedenied.org)
Special for the Las Vegas Tribune

District Court Judge William Kephart has been publicly reprimanded by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline (NCJD) after he admitted to publicly interfering in Kirstin Lobato’s habeas corpus case during a television interview broadcast by KSNV News 3 in Las Vegas. During the on-camera interview Judge Kephart publicly advocated for her guilt, while in her pending habeas case she asserts she is actually innocent.

On May 9, 2017 the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline charged Kephart with five misconduct violations for his comments about Ms. Lobato’s case during the interview. Kephart’s signed admission to all the charges and his consent to a public reprimand for his conduct was filed with the NCJD on August 31, 2017.

Kephart was one of Ms. Lobato’s prosecutors when she was convicted in October 2006 of voluntary manslaughter and other charges related to the July 2001 homicide of homeless Duran Bailey in Las Vegas. In May 2010 Ms. Lobato filed a habeas corpus petition in the District Court that presented new evidence she is actually innocent. Ms. Lobato’s case has received national and international media attention. Her case is currently pending in the District Court with an evidentiary hearing scheduled to begin on October 9, 2017.

Ms. Lobato’s habeas petition is currently being handled by one of Judge Kephart’s colleagues, Judge Stefany Miley. The Commission alleged in its charges, and Kephart has now publicly admitted that due to his public advocacy for Ms. Lobato’s guilt, “there was or is a reasonable expectation that Respondent’s interview statements could affect the outcome or impair the fairness of Ms. Lobato’s case,” that will be decided by his colleague Judge Miley.

Judge Kephart complicates Ms. Lobato’s legal situation further because while with the DA’s Office, in 2010 he wrote and signed the State of Nevada’s opposition to Ms. Lobato’s habeas petition that Judge Miley will be ruling on. To grant Ms. Lobato’s petition Judge Miley would not only have to disregard her fellow judge’s public declaration Ms. Lobato is guilty, but she would have to specifically rule against the State’s defenses to her habeas claims authored by Kephart and his public written declarations that the claims Judge Miley is ruling on are meritless and should be denied.

Kephart was elected a Clark County District Court judge in November 2014.

During the February 29, 2016 broadcast interview, Kephart’s statements about Ms. Lobato’s case included: “I stand behind what we did. I have no qualms about what happened and how we prosecuted this matter. I believe it was completely justice done.”

The NCJD’s Formal Statement Of Charges filed in May 2017 states:

“Respondent’s television interview statements attested to his belief that Ms. Lobato is guilty as he indicated that justice was done, although these comments directly contrast with Ms. Lobato’s claim of actual innocence, which is a subject in the case. Therefore, there was or is a reasonable expectation that Respondent’s interview statements could affect the outcome or impair the fairness of Ms. Lobato’s case.”

The five charges of misconduct against Kephart were: 1) Failing to “maintain the dignity of office and avoid impropriety;” 2) “Failing to comply with the law;” 3) “Failing to act at all times in a manner that promotes confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary and avoiding impropriety and the appearance of impropriety;” 4) Failed at “performing judicial and administrative duties competently and diligently;” and, 5) Making “public statement on a pending or impending case.”

Kephart’s denied all the charges in his Response filed with the NCJD on May 25, 2017.

Kephart avoided a public hearing by admitting to all the charges and consenting to a public reprimand that was filed with the NCJD on August 31, 2017. The “Stipulation And Order Of Consent To Public Reprimand” signed by Judge Kephart states in part:

1. D. … Respondent’s television interview statements attested to his belief that Ms. Lobato is guilty as he indicated that justice was done, although these comments directly contrast with Ms. Lobato’s claim of actual innocence, which is a subject in the case. Therefore, there was or is a reasonable expectation that Respondent’s interview statements could affect the outcome or impair the fairness of Ms. Lobato’s case.

2. Respondent admits to all the allegations brought against him in the Charge of Misconduct of the Formal Statement of Charges filed May 9, 2017, and paragraphs (1)(A) through (D) as set forth above.

3. Respondent agrees to waive his right to present his case and contest the allegations in the information set forth above in a formal hearing.

5. Respondent and the Commission hereby stipulate to Respondent’s consent to public reprimand pursuant to Rule 29. Respondent stipulates to the following substantive provisions:
A. He agrees the evidence available to the Commission would establish by clear and convincing proof that he violated the Code, including Canon 1, Rule 1.1 and 1.2, and Canon 2, Rule 2.5 (A) and 2.10.

C. He stipulates to a public reprimand for violations of the Judicial Canons and Rules as set forth above in paragraphs (1) (A) through (D).

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Respondent is hereby publicly reprimanded for violating the Code, Canon 1, Rule 1.1 and 1.2; and Canon 2, Rule 2.5 (A) and 2.10.

The “Stipulation And Order Of Consent To Public Reprimand” against Judge Kephart is on the NCJD’s website. It can be read at, www.tinyurl.com/y9rpnfqz.

With the conclusion of Kephart’s case, the author of this article can publicly reveal that in April 2016 he filed the complaint with the NCJD about the television interview. The outcome resulting from the NCJD’s investigation proves the complaint was valid.

Author note: Hans Sherrer is President of the Justice Institute aka Justice Denied that conducted a post-conviction investigation of Kirstin Lobato’s case. The Justice Institute is based in Seattle, Washington and promotes awareness of wrongful convictions, and maintains the world’s largest database of exonerated persons. Its website is, www.justicedenied.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://justicedenied.org/wordpress/archives/3951