By Steven Barket
Las Vegas, Nevada
This sequel is one of those where one of the original stars doesn’t sign on for the performance. In the case of Roberto Miranda, we have Robert Leonard performing without Tom Dillard, and doing a bang-up job at it, we might add. Looks like Leonard has picked up a few of Dillard’s tricks. (Please read the original DUMB & DUMBER)
After all, a $5 million settlement in favor of Roberto Miranda is a pretty sizable figure.
Roberto Miranda (not to be confused with the case back in the 1960s involving Ernesto Miranda and which established the Miranda rights) was arrested and convicted of stabbing a man to death in 1981. Miranda received a death sentence in 1982. He said, however, that he was framed for the murder, and that someone else did it.
In 1991, nine years after his conviction and death sentence, Miranda had Las Vegas attorney Laura Fitzsimmons appointed to his case. It took years, but she was able to convince a judge in 1996 to grant Miranda a new trial. It was based on the premise that in the original case, the public defender assigned to him did not adequately investigate the case or defend him. In fact, the judge who granted the new trial wrote that, “The lack of pretrial investigation and preparation … cannot be justified.”
Prosecutors declined to proceed with the case, however, so another judge dismissed it. Miranda later filed a civil rights lawsuit in 1998 against the Clark County public defender’s office as well as former Las Vegas PD homicide detectives Robert Leonard and Michael Maddock.
The cas eventually was settled in favor of Miranda for $5 million.
In addition to claiming that Miranda’s deputy public defender, Thomas Rigsby, had no experience in handling murder cases and that the public defender’s office did not vigorously defend Miranda because of his race, religious beliefs and poor polygraph performance, the lawsuit also said the detectives failed to preserve and disclose critical information that would have cleared him.
Miranda spent 14 years on death row as a result.
So there we have it again — Metro PD homicide detectives who failed to preserve and disclose critical information that would have cleared a defendant. Another defendant who unnecessarily spent time in jail, $5 million in a settlement paid out … I’m sensing a little bit of a pattern becoming apparent here.