District Judge Todd Russell has ordered the public defender’s office to show cause why it should not be held in contempt of court for violating a restraining order.
Jeremy Ryan Wilson, 29, the defendant in a strong-arm robbery case, was ordered by Justice of the Peace Steven McMorris to have no contact with the victim.
Russell set a 9:30 a.m. hearing Sept. 23 directing the public defender’s office to show cause why it should not be held in contempt of court.
The violation surfaced at what was supposed to be Wilson’s sentencing for the robbery when Deputy DA Melanie Porter informed the judge the PD’s office had delivered a letter from Wilson to the victim in the case. The DA referred to it as “an absolutely egregious violation.”
According to Porter, a member of the public defender’s staff hand delivered a letter written by Wilson to the victim in the case despite the no contact order — an act she described as “an absolutely egregious violation.”
Judge Russell asked Mihaela Neagos if that was true: “Did your office participate in the contact?”
“It was not done in an attempt to violate the no contact order,” she said.
“Did you choose to violate that order?” Russell asked. “Yes or no. Did it happen?”
When she said yes, Russell told her, “I have a real problem with that. “
“It was not submitted by Mr. Wilson and was not submitted at his request,” she said. “It was a decision made in our office.”
Porter said she doesn’t think the office can continue to represent Wilson because it “might be the subject of a criminal investigation.”
Russell agreed saying, “They helped him break the law.”
He named Mike Novi as Wilson’s new lawyer and reset sentencing for Sept. 29 saying he didn’t want to penalize Wilson for what the Public Defender’s Office did.
The order calling a show cause hearing states: “The alleged act of the Nevada State Public Defender’s Office providing the letter to the victim in regards to this matter is in clear violation of Senior Justice of the Peace McMorris’s order.”
Assistant DA Mark Krueger said Margie Judge, an investigator for the PD’s office, delivered the letter to the robbery victim Mary Lou Miller last Thursday.
He said the victim told him she was so upset she didn’t open the letter for three days. After that, she brought it to the attention of the DA’s victim support staff.
Public Defender Karin Kreizenbeck declined comment saying the office would make its position clear at the Sept. 23 hearing.
“Out of respect for Judge Russell, I think the court is the appropriate place to make our comments,” she said.