Gloria Navarro was the first person to publicly declare Kirstin Blaise Lobato is innocent of the July 2001 homicide of Duran Bailey in Las Vegas.
Navarro did so in May 2002 during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal following Ms. Lobato’s conviction by a jury of first-degree murder and other charges related to Bailey’s homicide. At the time Navarro was a Clark County Public Defender and one of Lobato’s lawyers during her trial. Navarro declared to the RJ: “She placed her belief in the justice system, and she ended up being convicted of a crime that she did not commit.” She also said that Ms. Lobato turned down a plea deal for three years in prison because she is innocent. Lobato was subsequently sentenced by District Court Judge Valorie Vega to a minimum of 40 years in prison.
Navarro never retracted her statement Kirstin Lobato is innocent.
In 2010 she specifically included a reference to the 2002 Review-Journal article in the documents she filed with the U.S. Senate in support of her qualifications to be a U.S. District Court judge. U.S. Senator Harry Reid recommended her, President Obama nominated her, and the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed her by a vote of 98-0 in May 2010.
Ms. Lobato’s habeas corpus petition filed in May 2010 included new evidence by more than 20 people conclusively establishing Ms. Lobato’s actual innocence of Bailey’s homicide. The Clark County District Attorney’s Office effectively acknowledged her innocence when on December 28, 2017 it filed a motion to dismiss the charges against her with prejudice — meaning she could never be recharged. The DA’s motion was granted on December 29, and she was released on January 3, 2018 after spending a total of more than 15 years in custody.
Five days after Lobato’s release, now-U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed all charges against Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy, and Ryan Payne. The dismissal of the charges on January 8, 2018 was with prejudice … barring them being recharged.
The Bundys and Payne had been in the midst of their retrial in federal court in Las Vegas
on charges related to an armed standoff with federal agents in April 2014 over grazing fees for Cliven Bundy’s use of federally-owned land adjacent to his ranch in southeastern Nevada.
The men’s retrial began on October 30, 2017. Their first trial ended with Navarro declaring a mistrial on April 24, 2017 because of a deadlocked jury.
On December 20, 2017 Navarro granted a defense motion for a mistrial. The motion had been filed on November 14, 2017 — the trial’s sixth day. The motion was based on exculpatory evidence the prosecution disclosed after the trial began. Some of that evidence directly contradicted the prosecution’s narrative of the men’s alleged crimes, and it undermined rulings Navarro had made regarding limitations on the defendant’s defenses to the charges.
In granting the mistrial motion Navarro ruled the prosecution’s willful failure to disclose five key pieces of evidence violated the defendant’s due process right to be provided with exculpatory evidence as mandated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brady v. Maryland (1963):
- * Records about surveillance at the Bundy ranch;
- * Records about the presence of government snipers;
- * FBI logs about activity at the ranch in the days leading up to standoff;
- * Law-enforcement assessments dating to 2012 that found the Bundys posed no threat;
- * Internal affairs reports about misconduct by Bureau of Land Management agents.
Navarro ruled the evidence was so favorable to the defense it could have changed the outcome of the trial. She said, “Failure to turn over such evidence violates due process. A fair trial at this point is impossible.”
Navarro then had to decide if the constitutional violations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office had been so egregious that they required dismissal of the charges, or that the defendant’s could be retried for a third time. On January 8 she issued her ruling:
“The Court DISMISSES this case WITH PREJUDICE as to Defendants Cliven Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Ammon Bundy and Ryan Payne. The Court hereby vacates the detention orders for Cliven Bundy. The Court further vacates the Pretrial Release Orders and exonerates the bonds of Ryan Payne, Ryan Bundy, and Ammon Bundy.”
Navarro said she ordered dismissal of the charges instead of a new trial that would not only give the prosecution an unfair advantage, but “The court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated. The government conduct in this case was, indeed, outrageous.”
Navarro’s dismissal will become final if the government does not appeal it to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. As of January 10 it hasn’t done so.
Navarro’s granting of a mistrial and then ordering dismissal of the charges based on the government’s flagrant wrongdoing is a remarkable reversal from her prior rulings in the Bundy case that generated intense national criticism she was openly biased against the Bundy defendants and using her position to ensure their conviction. One critical article dubbed her “Queen Navarro of Las Vegas.”
The Bundy case is complicated and involves more than the four defendants whose cases were dismissed on January 8. A detailed explanation of the case is the “Bundy standoff” entry on Wikipedia.org.
Click here to read or download at no charge the PDF book “Kirstin Blaise Lobato’s Unreasonable Conviction: Possibility Of Guilt Replaces Proof Beyond A Reasonable Doubt – Third Edition.” The book about Ms. Lobato’s case was written by Justice Denied’s editor and publisher Hans Sherrer.