Hundreds of people jammed into the chapel at Palm Mortuary Friday afternoon to say good-bye to an old friend and icon in the legal community. Former federal judge Harry Claiborne, who died on Tuesday, was one of the preeminent defense attorneys for Southern Nevada.More>>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 11:29 AM EDT2013-05-21 15:29:43 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- The two men facing murder charges in the death of a 15-year-old high school student appeared in a Las Vegas courtroom Tuesday morning. Michael Solid, 21, and Jacob Dismont, 18, made theirMore>>
The two men facing murder charges in the death of a 15-year-old high school student appeared in a Las Vegas courtroom Tuesday morning.More>>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 10:49 AM EDT2013-05-21 14:49:55 GMT
A massive tornado has flattened a large area, including an elementary school, in Oklahoma City. It's estimated the tornado was more than two miles wide and struck just south of the city destroying homesMore>>
The state medical examiner's office has revised the death toll from a tornado in an Oklahoma City suburb to 24 people, including seven children.More>>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:40 PM EDT2013-05-21 16:40:42 GMT
LAS VEGAS - Making jewelry with wax molds is a craft as old as time. It's a craft jeweler Rich Fedelleck has perfected. "It's kind of like playing a violin. You just got to have a knack," he said. "WeMore>>
A local jeweler spent $20,000 for a new jewelry cutter, but the machine he received wasn't new and didn't work properly. When he struggled to exchange it, he contacted 8 on Your Side.More>>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:38 PM EDT2013-05-21 16:38:01 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- The I-Team recently exposed how a family court marshal was fired for a sexual assault at the courthouse. Now, the I-Team has uncovered another case of alleged abuse involving a woman who saysMore>>
The I-Team recently exposed how a family court marshal was fired for a sexual assault at the courthouse. Now, the I-Team has uncovered another case of alleged abuseMore>>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 10:51 AM EDT2013-05-21 14:51:58 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman might be the only local politician in the country who needs not one, but two biographies to tell his colorful story. Goodman has always been a masterMore>>
Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman might be the only local politician in the country who needs not one, but two biographies to tell his colorful story.More>>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 9:30 AM EDT2013-05-21 13:30:09 GMT
LAS VEGAS - A UNLV student says the traffic light at Wilbur Street and Tropicana Avenue fails to turn green. She says students often run the red light just to make it to class on time. Traffic8 was ableMore>>
A UNLV student says the traffic light at Wilbur Street and Tropicana Avenue fails to turn green. She says students often run the red light just to make it to class on time.More>>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 9:30 AM EDT2013-05-21 13:30:09 GMT
LAS VEGAS - This week is one of the deadliest of the year for teen drivers. With graduation parties, Memorial Day weekend and summer starting, teens are at a greater risk of getting into accidents. TheMore>>
This week is one of the deadliest of the year for teen drivers. With graduation parties, Memorial Day weekend and summer starting, teens are at a greater risk of getting into accidents.More>>
Monday, May 20 2013 9:29 PM EDT2013-05-21 01:29:24 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- Metro Police has released photos of an 18-year-old man wanted in connection with the death of Dale Borero, who was shot in the 2800 block of Fremont Street on April 19. Police are seekingMore>>
Metro Police has released photos of an 18-year-old man wanted in connection with the death of Dale Borero, who was shot in the 2800 block of Fremont Street on April 19.More>>
Monday, May 20 2013 7:55 PM EDT2013-05-20 23:55:39 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- A Las Vegas man pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role in the embezzlement of nearly $5.6 million from Turnberry Associates, Nevada's U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden saidMore>>
A Las Vegas man pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role in the embezzlement of nearly $5.6 million from Turnberry Associates, Nevada's U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said Monday.More>>
LAS VEGAS -- Nevada federal judge Harry Claiborne was just the fifth person in U.S. history to be impeached by the U.S. Senate. But was Claiborne railroaded by vindictive federal agents? His supporters have long contended the longtime defense lawyer turned judge was unfairly targeted and then sent to prison.
Claiborne died a few years ago but always felt his name would be cleared someday. A new book about the disgraced judge appears to do just that. The late '70s through the mid '80s was a contentious time for federal law enforcement in Nevada. Much of the state saw the feds as enemies who viewed everyone in Nevada as a crook. And agents will tell you, a heck of a lot of the power structure was crooked, in their eyes.
They went after Harry Claiborne with a vengeance, and eventually got him. Author Michael Vernetti says in his new book, Lies Within Lies, that it was tragic and wrong.
Claiborne was never more eloquent than when he appeared before the U.S. Senate as part of his own defense. He was the first federal judge in a century to face impeachment. And while the Senate proceeding may have looked like a fair trial, Claiborne's biographer says the outcome was always a foregone conclusion.
"So why I say it was a kangaroo court is because they were not going to overturn a decision from a federal court," said author Michael Vernetti who spent years poring through court documents and trial transcripts.
In his new book, he makes the case that Harry Claiborne was railroaded by federal law enforcement. The Claiborne saga is Shakespearean in its scope. Claiborne was born to humble surroundings in Arkansas, put himself through law school, worked as a cop and prosecutor, but found his niche as a defense attorney in a young city in Nevada.
He quickly became the premiere defense lawyer in Las Vegas, representing everyone from Bugsy Siegel to Frank Sinatra and a lot of little guys in trouble. No one could win over a jury like Claiborne.
"And all with that folksy Arkansas accent, telling stories. Harry never put on. He was not high falutin. He just talked to people in a language they could understand," said Vernetti.
"As a young lawyer, I will never forget coming to town and everybody talked about Harry Claiborne. He was the lawyer if you were in trouble, you had to go to Harry Claiborne," said Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, a defense attorney.
Goodman not only studied and admired Claiborne, he later defended him in the proceedings that led to Claiborne's removal from the bench. Goodman thinks some of Claiborne's troubles stemmed from his regular guy interests. He liked good whiskey and flashy women. Three of his four wives were cocktail waitresses. And even after he was appointed to the federal bench, he still had daily lunches with colorful casino owner Benny Binion.
"I was told Claiborne had lunch four to five times a week with Binion. I thought that was strange. In no other place in the U.S., would a federal judge's best friend be a convicted murderer," said Joe Yablonsky, former FBI special agent.
When Yablonsky took the reins of the Las Vegas FBI office, federal law enforcement and Nevada were basically at war. Oscar Goodman believes the feds targeted Claiborne in part because they did not understand how Las Vegas operated and saw the whole town as corrupt. Although the FBI had done a background investigation of Claiborne before his appointment and found nothing wrong, they tried to nail him for hiring a private eye to illegally bug one of Claiborne's girlfriends. Claiborne prevailed. Agents began to follow the judge. On the steps of the courthouse after a liquid lunch, Claiborne let loose against the federal strike force.
"They should be run out of town," he said.
Prosecutors got their chance to nail Claiborne in the form of a phone call from a federal fugitive, brothel baron Joe Conforte, then living on the run in Brazil, who had been a client of Claiborne's and claimed he could give him to the feds on a silver platter.
When the I-Team caught up to Conforte in Rio a few years ago, he stuck to his story that he paid a bribe to judge Claiborne to help get all charges dropped.
Joe Conforte: "Ask any question you want."
George Knapp: "Did you pay Claiborne $80,000 dollars as a bribe?"
Conforte: "Of course, of course."
But Conforte made for a lousy witness. A sensational trial in Reno ended with a deadlocked jury. Prosecutors dropped the bribery charges in a second trial and convicted Claiborne of income tax evasion. He was removed from the bench and sent to prison.
His lawyer Oscar Goodman still says it was a bad conviction.
"We beat them as far as the Conforte counts. The Reno counts, we destroyed them. But with that little tax count, it was enough because they had a judge who was a hanging judge, sent out to do a number, and he did," said Goodman.
"Harry got over it. He was not a bitter man. He did not kill himself out of bitterness, it was behind him," said Vernetti.
Harry Claiborne eventually resumed the practice of law on a limited scale but faced with cancer, the onset of Alzheimers, and worries that he might be put in a home, he put a gun to his head back in 2004. His funeral attracted a huge gathering.