Suit Says Nevada Judge Violated Rights of Defendants

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

A federal lawsuit alleges that a veteran Nevada state judge violated defendants' civil rights with improper sentences.

The class-action lawsuit stems from the case of Jeanette Faye Sadoski, who accuses Clark County District Court Donald Mosley of wrongfully increasing her sentence and exposing her to double jeopardy.

The suit, filed Thursday, seeks a review of all of Mosley's criminal cases to determine if he legally resentenced other defendants.

Clark Garen, Sadoski's attorney, said he believes "a couple hundred people" may be affected.

Sadoski claims that Mosley changed her sentence for theft from a misdemeanor to a felony after another charge came to light. Nevada law lets a judge reduce sentences, but does not address lengthening them.

Mosley, who has served on the bench for 23 years in Las Vegas, was out of town and could not be reached for comment, a clerk in his office said.

The suit calls for Mosley to be prohibited from resentencing defendants without an order from a federal judge. It also asks that Mosley inform defendants he may have illegally resentenced so they can sue, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

Other defendants in the suit, which was filed last week in U.S. District Court, include former District Attorney Stewart Bell, District Attorney David Roger and Nevada Department of Corrections Director Jackie Crawford.

Roger declined to comment Monday on the suit. Efforts to reach Bell and Crawford were unsuccessful.

Garen said Sadoski pleaded guilty in June 2000 to charges stemming from the theft of $6,000 from a Las Vegas store where she worked.

Mosley originally gave Sadoski a suspended sentence of one year for a gross misdemeanor. But between the time that Sadoski gave her plea and the time she was sentenced she was arrested on a drug trafficking charge, according to documents filed by the district attorney's office.

That prompted Mosley to resentence Sadoski to 12 to 32 months in prison. Sadoski was paroled in July 2002 on the drug charge, but remained under house arrest on the theft charge, which ran concurrent to the drug charge.

In June, the Nevada Supreme Court reversed the resentencing. In July, Mosley reinstated the original sentence and Sadoski was released.

The suit claims damages for illegal incarceration for Sadoski and other members of her class, but an exact damage amount has not been determined.

The suit also seeks $750,000 in attorney fees from Mosley, Bell, Roger and Crawford, plus $32,322 in costs Sadoski claims during her house arrest.


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