By Steven Barket
Las Vegas, Nevada
Court documents are very one-sided. There’s no two ways to look at something when it comes to the finality of a court’s decision. Sometimes the legalese gets in the way, but there can be no mistake about rulings or verdicts. And that is the case in the jury’s findings in the U.S. District Court case (Nevada) between Howard L. Haupt (the plaintiff) and former Metro detective and defendant Thomas D. Dillard (Case No. CV-S-90-121-PMP(RJJ). You can see above a few of the highlighted statements.
Dillard (left) should know better, but apparently he believes he’s above the law. We’re speculating here, drawing inferences from his actions, but how else do you explain his violation of one of the basic tenants of law? Dillard had the stones to call Judge Stephen L. Huffaker, the sitting judge presiding over this case of life and death, and try to influence his instructions to the jury as the jury was about to begin their deliberations after hearing all the testimony and seeing all the evidence in this highly publicized murder case involving a 7-year-old boy.
And that’s what this current case of Haupt v. Dillard stemmed from. It’s a case brought by Haupt against Dillard, which germinated from a previous case in which Haupt had been arrested and charged with the abduction and murder of 7-year-old Alexander Harris at Whiskey Pete’s Casino in Stateline, Nevada. Dillard was one of the Metro homicide detectives assigned to investigate the case. Haupt ultimately was acquitted, but not before Dillard tried to pile up as much circumstantial and fabricated evidence as he could and dump it all over Haupt, who was left to try to dig himself out of it.
And then, after the evidence and testimony was presented in that case by the prosecution, based on what Dillard had collected, the judge, in a rare display of judicial gravitas, was going to instruct the jury that they needed to find Howard L. Haupt not guilty in the crime. Judge Huffaker felt that strongly about the case and the evidence — or rather the lack there-of — presented in the case. And upon hearing that, because the judge advised both the defense and the prosecution that he was going to so instruct the jury, Dillard called the judge directly to try to influence him to not give that instruction, calling it “ridiculous.” And because of the reaction of the prosecuting attorney and Dillard, the judge ultimately refrained from giving the jury that very instruction. The jury didn’t need it, though. They returned a verdict of not guilty on all counts against Haupt. And after the verdict, the judge admitted that he felt intimidated by Dillard’s call.
The document graphic with our highlights that you see at the top of this post is from the Haupt v. Dillard verdict, page 20. Ex-Metro Detective Thomas (Tom / T.D.) Dillard was found guilty on all four counts before the jury:
1. Violating Howard Haupt’s right to a fair criminal trial.
2. A finding in favor of the defendant for damages as a result of that violation.
3. Malicious or reckless disregard for Haupt’s right to a fair criminal trial.
4. Punitive damages as a result awarded to plaintiff Haupt for $1 million.
Now, that’s a fairly simple, straightforward finding. I’ll translate it to polite layman’s terms: Detective Dillard really screwed up bad. A substantial smack-down of Dillard for sure.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. This is one of who knows how many cases in which a suspect in a crime was, in our opinion, targeted as a fall guy by Dillard in which he tried to pile up as much as he could against an individual in order to get an arrest and/or conviction. Fortunately, in some of the more prominent cases — murder cases — the system worked, and innocent people were exonerated. But at what cost? How deeply had even just the accusation and subsequent arrest scarred them? We know in one case that according to a source very close to the family, the wife of one of Dillard’s victim’s said her husband “died a broken man because of Thomas Dillard.” And this man spent about a month in jail on a murder charge, but was released and had all charges dropped before he even reached trial. Still, he was so haunted by the accusation that his life was never the same. And, his wife went on to say, according to the family source, that Dillard was “pure evil.”