Saturday, February 12, 2005

Shareholder's Lawsuit Inexplicably Dismissed

Just today, I was informed by author and criminal justice system critic Frank Vipperman that a lawsuit filed by him against Las Vegas Tribune founder and editor Rolando Larraz, without notice or explanation to him, has been abruptly dismissed.

The case is of considerable interest to me, because Frank and I both invested substantially in the weekly newspaper, only to see Larraz, devoid of any justification, attempt to vaporize our ownership interests.

Frank's pro se action, seeking damages of one million dollars, has been in the judicial mill since April of 2003. The charges include obtaining money under false pretense, breach of contract, fraud, illegal asset conversion and embezzlement.

A jury trial had been set to begin in short order, on February 14 of this year, but due to severe health problems, Frank requested that the trial date be set back.



Shortly after that, the funny stuff began. Court records online show - reference case # 03-A-465833-C - that on January 26, 2005, less than two weeks after Frank's petition for postponement, presiding Judge Jackie Glass recused from the case. Judge Jessie Walsh receiving the reassignment. One week later, on February 3, the most recent entry on record is, “CASE CLOSED PER DEPARTMENT”. Keep in mind: Plaintiff Frank Vipperman has received no notice of or explanation for these two maneuvers.

The benign explanation is some kind of snafu within the court system. A more sinister possibility is the return of a favor. In late 2002, during her initial run for District Court, Frank informed me that Walsh was the recipient of favorable exposure in the Tribune, something only Larraz would have effectuated.

The receipt of good words would have been timely, as Walsh was not endorsed for the seat by the state's largest newspaper, the LV Review-Journal. Her rejection was due primarily to Walsh having received, by a long shot, the lowest attorney retention recommendation of all peer judges while occupying a chair in the Las Vegas Municipal Court.

Even posing the prospect that clandestine motives are behind this development makes me uneasy. Yet, because similarly sleazy moves happen with such regularity among the good old boys and girls in Vegas, it's impossible to say such couldn't be so.

As this story is breaking news, I will continue looking into the situation.

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