LAS VEGAS, Nev. (702 Times, NV Globe) – A Nevada judge postponed a long-awaited hearing to determine whether former Las Vegas Raiders player Henry Ruggs would face trial in a deadly 2021 accident on Wednesday, saying the case cannot move until it is properly assigned to a judge in the lower court.
The ruling came in response to Ruggs’ attorneys’ appeal to a state judge on Monday to prevent Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman from presiding over the case.
Until recently, Zimmerman oversaw all DUI cases in Las Vegas, including Ruggs’, as part of a speciality court program. However, those cases were moved early this month to a new judge who had been nominated to take over the specialized court.
Ruggs, who is out on bond, is accused of driving under the influence on Nov. 2, 2021, and crashing his Chevrolet Corvette into Tina Tintor’s SUV, causing it to catch fire. Tintor, 23, and her dog, Max, perished while trapped inside the SUV.
Lawyers Richard Schonfeld and David Chesnoff argued in their filing that Zimmerman “singled out” Ruggs and violated his right to equal protection when she decided to keep the former wide receiver’s case on her calendar without notifying the attorneys while the rest of the “thousands” of DUI cases were transferred to the new judge.
“It’s outrageous,” Chesnoff said in court Wednesday. “We’ve been like deer in headlights.”
Clark County District Judge Jennifer Schwartz stated that she needed to hear from attorneys for Zimmerman and the Justice Court before making a judgment, and she set another hearing for March 22, at which time she is likely to issue a ruling.
Chesnoff remarked, motioning to the courtroom gallery, where Ruggs was sat with relatives:“Mr. Ruggs has dutifully been defending himself in a very difficult case. This is a critical stage of a criminal proceeding, and a judge just walks down the hall and goes to another judge and says, ‘This is what I want to do.’”
After many delays, Zimmerman was supposed to hear evidence in the case on Feb. 1.
The hearing to decide whether Ruggs will stand trial is now expected to take place after late March.
Zimmerman did not reply to an Associated Press request for comment. However, Schonfeld and Chesnoff stated that they contacted Zimmerman after discovering that she had desired that their client’s case be kept confidential.
Zimmerman stated in their court statement that she and the new DUI specialist court judge agreed that she would “finish hearing this case” since she “had previously made some substantive rulings in the case.”
“It is not uncommon or extraordinary for a judge to retain a case to finish hearing it,” she told Schonfeld and Chesnoff.
After the hearing, the lawyers told The Associated Press they were pleased with Schwartz’s decision to delay the hearing and “study the very important constitutional issues” they raised.
“It is neither unusual or unusual for a judge to keep a case to complete hearing it,” she said to Schonfeld and Chesnoff.
The attorneys told The Associated Press after the hearing that they were happy with Schwartz’s decision to postpone the hearing and “examine the very substantial constitutional problems” they highlighted.
Credits: FOX 5 VEGAS
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