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Lawyers claim judge ‘ruled out’ ex-Raider, hearing delayed

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada judge on Wednesday delayed a long-awaited hearing to determine whether former Las Vegas Raiders player Henry Ruggs will stand trial in a fatal crash in 2021, saying he cannot proceed. until the case is properly assigned to a judge in the trial court.

The decision came in response to a request filed Monday by Ruggs’ attorneys asking the state judge to block Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman from presiding over the case.

Until recently, Zimmerman oversaw all DUI cases in Las Vegas, including the case against Ruggs, under a specialized court program. But those cases were transferred earlier this month to another judge appointed to take over the specialist court.

Ruggs, who is out on bail, is accused of driving under the influence on Nov. 2, 2021 and crashing his Chevrolet Corvette into Tina Tintor’s SUV, causing the vehicle to catch fire. Trapped inside the SUV, Tintor, 23, and his dog, Max, died.

Lawyers Richard Schonfeld and David Chesnoff argued in their filing that Zimmerman ‘excluded’ Ruggs and violated her right to equal protection when, without telling the lawyers, she decided to keep the former receiver’s case wide on his schedule while the rest of the “thousands” of DUI cases were transferred to the new judge.

“It’s outrageous,” Chesnoff said in court Wednesday. “We were like deer in the headlights.”

Clark County District Judge Jennifer Schwartz said she wants to hear from attorneys representing Zimmerman and the court before making a decision and has scheduled another hearing for March 22, when she is expected to return. a decision.

Pointing to the courtroom gallery, where Ruggs was seated with relatives, Chesnoff added, “Mr. Ruggs dutifully defended himself in a very difficult case. It’s a critical step in a criminal process, and a judge just walks down the hall and goes to another judge and says, “That’s what I want to do.

Zimmerman was scheduled to hear evidence in the case on Feb. 1 after delays.

Now, that hearing to determine whether Ruggs will stand trial is not expected to take place until the end of March.

Zimmerman did not respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment. But Schonfeld and Chesnoff said they contacted Zimmerman after learning she had asked to keep their client’s file.

According to their court filing, Zimmerman said she and the new DUI specialty court judge reached an agreement that she would “finish hearing this case” because she “has already made substantive rulings in the case.” affair”.

“It’s not uncommon or extraordinary for a judge to hold a case back to finish hearing it,” she told Schonfeld and Chesnoff.

After the hearing, the attorneys told The Associated Press they were pleased with Schwartz’s decision to delay the hearing and “consider the very important constitutional issues” they raised.

Ruggs, who remains under house arrest with electronic monitoring, faces more than 50 years in prison if convicted. The former first-round NFL draft pick was released from the Raiders shortly after the crash.

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