I-Team: District Court Judge Facing Misconduct Counts - 8 News NOW

I-Team: District Court Judge Facing Misconduct Counts

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Judge Valorie Vega Judge Valorie Vega

LAS VEGAS -- A district court judge is facing three counts of judicial misconduct after an I-Team investigation.

In February of 2011, 8 News NOW caught Valerie Vega recessing trials in the middle of the day to attend her kids' soccer games.

Deliberations in the murder case of Victor Fakoya began just before 3 a.m. Protests from Fakoya's lawyers Adrian Lobo and Norm Reed were answered with contempt.

I-Team: Jurors in Murder Trial Held for Hours so Judge can Vacation

"I told counsel this case had to be done by Thursday because I'm packing up and leaving town and going on vacation for two weeks," said Judge Vega in court.

A special prosecutor with the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline filed three counts of misconduct against Vega, all related to her behavior during the Fakoya trial.

The special prosecutor alleges Vega put her personal activities before her judicial duties, failed to perform with competence and diligence, and was not courteous to jurors, attorneys, and staff.

Read the charges against Judge Vega

Vega later banned two public defenders representing Fakoya from her courtroom after the bad press. Citing "post-Fakoya trial media matters," Judge Vega disqualified herself from all of Reed and Lobo's 17 criminal cases, including two that involve the death penalty.

In a written statement, Vega says, "During my nearly 23 years serving on the bench, I have enjoyed an impeccable reputation. I strive to fulfill my job duties in accordance with the Judicial Cannons of Ethics. During my 259th trial as a District Court Judge, which was the retrial of the State v. Fakoya at the end of 2010, a series of factors combined and caused some procedural irregularities. I look forward to the opportunity to provide a full presentation on all of the relevant facts. I am confident that the facts will show that the claims lack merit, and further demonstrate that my intent was to preserve the jury, prevent a second mistrial for this case and administer justice."

Vega has 20 days to file a written answer to the charges and then a public hearing will be scheduled.

An 8 News NOW viewer filed the complaint against Vega after seeing our reports. Penalties could include being removed from office, a public apology or additional training.

The Fakoya trial is not the first time Judge Vega has held a jury late into the night. In 2006, Kirsten Lobato was facing first degree murder charges in the death of a homeless man. The jury in her case deliberated until midnight and later found her guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

She is appealing her case.

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