Nevada Supreme Court orders removal of district judge from criminal case

 May 5, 2024

The Nevada judicial circuit experienced quite a bit of drama last week. 

According to Yahoo News, the Nevada Supreme Court sent down an order for a judge to be removed from a controversial criminal case -- a move that doesn't happen often.

Clark County District Court Judge Jerry Wiese was ordered by the state's high court to remove Judge Erika Ballou from a particular criminal case.

The order came down in the wake of Judge Ballou failing to abide by two previous orders from the high court regarding the case.

What's going on?

The criminal case in question involved Mia Christman, who, at 18, went on a violent crime spree that landed her a 10-year minimum prison sentence after she pleaded guilty to two felony charges.

Her attorney, Betsy Allen, argued in the appeal that Christman had been a victim of childhood trauma and sex trafficking

In response to the appeal, Judge Ballou vacated Christman's sentence in 2021, which meant she was released from prison prior to serving the full term.

Christman's future then took another turn after she messed up again.

The Clark County District Attorney’s office continued to fight for Christman to serve the remainder of her sentence and argued that Christman was manipulating the system again. Christman failed to cooperate and disappeared twice before her guilty plea, according to prosecutors.

Her conduct led the state's high court to reverse the vacated sentence order issued by Ballou, but the judge never sent Christman back to prison as ordered.

The order to reverse the vacated sentence was issued once again in 2023, which was also ignored by Judge Ballou, which led to last week's order to have her removed from the case.

"Refusing to do its job"

Yahoo News noted:

Allen and Christman went to the pardons board in March which denied their request. Nevada Supreme Court Justice Douglas Herndon expressed frustration.

"This is kind of turning our pardons process on its head," Justice Herndon said. "The walls are closing in on the District Court that is shockingly refusing to do its job."

A complaint was filed by District Attorney Steve Wolfson, who accused Ballou of five violations.

"Judge Ballou failed to perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially when she repeatedly acted in favor of Christman and against the state," Wolfson wrote. "Judge Ballou’s bias has caused her to ignore the Nevada Supreme Court for nearly two years and impaired the fairness of these proceedings."

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