72°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Las Vegas judge who oversaw Binion, Dozier cases to retire

Updated December 27, 2018 - 6:19 pm

Las Vegas Judge Jennifer Togliatti, whose career included prosecuting misdemeanors and murders and overseeing some of the most high-profile cases from the bench, is expected to hear her last calendar of cases Friday.

At 51, she will not stray from the bench completely. Togliatti plans to work part time under the Eighth Judicial District Court’s senior judge program and oversee settlement conferences in civil litigation.

“After 20 years on the bench, I’m ready to do something different,” Togliatti, one of four judges assigned to oversee all of the county’s homicide cases, said in a recent interview with the Review-Journal. “I’m just ready to let somebody else take some of this big responsibility.”

Since announcing her retirement last month, Togliatti, who has served as chief judge of both the Las Vegas Justice Court and the Clark County District Court, was tapped as a mediator to help facilitate negotiations in federal litigation over the Oct. 1, 2017, Route 91 Harvest festival shooting.

Her role as a judge in some of Clark County’s most serious felony cases offered the public a window into her courtroom, but her experience in mediation, mostly done behind closed doors, did not go unnoticed.

Four years ago, she helped attorneys in a massive construction defect case involving CityCenter’s now-demolished Harmon Hotel reach a global settlement on the heels of a trial anticipated to last more than a year.

District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez called Togliatti “a miracle worker” for facilitating the resolution.

In a recent interview, Togliatti called the 18-month negotiation “a complete emotional roller coaster” and “as complex as you can possibly imagine.”

Moving up quickly

Togliatti earned her law degree from California Western School of Law in San Diego in 1993 and started as a law clerk with the appellate division of the Clark County District Attorney’s Office before being admitted to the bar.

Early in her career as a prosecutor, the roller coaster wasn’t as steep, as she recalled once prosecuting someone for fishing with two poles.

But Togliatti quickly rose through the ranks at the district attorney’s office, prosecuting child abusers and murderers along the way. Togliatti worked as a prosecutor under former Clark County District Attorney Stewart Bell, also a retired District Court judge.

“Jennifer was terrific,” said Bell, who now works as a mediator. “Because of her outstanding trial work and just overall talent, she moved quickly through the DA’s office. Everybody who knows Jen has the utmost respect for her.”

In 1998, the Nevada chapter of the National Organization of Women presented her with the 1998 Equality Now Award. That year, she also was elected to serve as Las Vegas justice of the peace.

In that role, she oversaw a preliminary hearing in the death of casino executive Ted Binion, whose stripper girlfriend, Sandy Murphy, and her lover, Rick Tabish, were charged with murder.

She also worked as an acting federal magistrate for U.S. District Court before former Gov. Kenny Guinn appointed her to the District Court in 2002.

Five years later, she oversaw the trial of Scott Dozier, who was convicted of his second murder and sentenced to die. Dozier’s case has drawn national attention since 2016, when he asked that his death sentence be carried out.

Late last year, Togliatti ruled that the prison system could not perform lethal injection using a paralytic drug, which a doctor testified could potentially mask suffering.

When the Nevada Supreme Court overturned that decision, Togliatti signed Dozier’s execution warrant once again. It is the only case she has handled in which a jury delivered the ultimate punishment.

As a judge she is restricted from discussing the case, but of signing a death warrant for a man she had interacted with repeatedly in her courtroom, she said: “It’s definitely a surreal experience.”

Next steps

Now, upon leaving her 10th floor chambers at the Regional Justice Center, Togliatti said she plans to spend more time with her three children and husband, while devoting more attention to sharpening her tennis game.

In the courtroom and on the court, she tries not to labor over a decision already made.

“Next point, next case,” she said. “You make your decision, you go to the next case.”

She expects her mediation work to reflect that mantra.

“If one side leaves unhappy, that’s a good day,” she said. “If both sides leave unhappy, that’s a regular day, especially in civil litigation … As long as you’re fair to people, and they don’t think you’ve prejudged their case or them or made a decision based on who the players are or your ideology, then that’s what they want.”

Elana Graham, recently elected to serve as a Las Vegas justice of the peace, worked as a UNLV extern for Togliatti in 2009 and as the judge’s clerk in 2010-11.

Graham described Togliatti as having an “intense” presence in court and in chambers, while also treating those who appeared before her fairly.

“She’s inspiring,” said Graham, who takes the bench next month. “So as far as the decision I made to run for judge, because I had her influence, that played a big role. She sets an example for women who work that you can be successful with your career but also maintain your priorities in life.”

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Crime Videos
CCSD police on the arrest of Deamonte Warren - VIDEO
CCSD police arrested Chaparral High School custodian Deamonte Warren on Friday on three counts of a school employee having sex with a student and an additional count of providing alcohol to a minor. (Courtesy CCSD Police)
Woman charged with sex trafficking an 11-year-old girl on the Strip (Michael Quine)
Gigi Mitchell faces seven felony charges including sex trafficking and child abuse for bringing an 11-year-old girl to the Las Vegas Strip to work as a prostitute.
Bel Air Drive Officer Involved Shooting Presser - Video
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly goes over the officer-involved shooting on Bel Air Drive.
Former Las Vegas police officer get 25 life sentences for sexually abusing child
Former Las Vegas Police officer Bret Theil was sentences to 25 consecutive life sentences at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, May 15, 2019, for sexually abusing a child over a decade. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Man pushed off bus in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Las Vegas police arrested 25-year-old Cadesha Bishop on May 6, after she allegedly pushed Serge Fournier, 74, off of a parked bus near Fremont Street and 13th Street about 4:50 p.m. March 21.(Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
$1 million bail set for mother charged with drowning 2-year-old daughter
The 44-year-old mother who police say drowned her 2-year-old daughter in a bathtub in a northeast Las Vegas apartment on Saturday made her first court appearance on Tuesday, May 14th.
Officer arrested on suspicion of lewdness with a child appears in court
Matthew James Terry, a Las Vegas police officer arrested on suspicion of lewdness with a child, appears in court Monday morning, May 13, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police seek hit-and-run driver
A motorcycle officer pulled over a Mercedes SUV, and after the officer came to a stop, it shifted into reverse, intentionally hitting the officer.
Thedrick Andres becomes Henderson Police Department acting chief
Henderson Police Department Acting Chief Thedrick Andres speaks about his goals in his new position at the Henderson Police headquarters, Monday, April 29, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2 dead, 1 wounded after east valley neighborhood shooting
One man and one woman are dead and another man wounded after a shooting Thursday afternoon in an east valley neighborhood.
Bail denied for former police detective charged with murder
Bail was denied Tuesday for former Metropolitan Police Department detective, Pamela Rene Bordeaux who is accused of fatally shooting her daughter’s ex-husband during supervised visitation with his child.
Third suspect in death of California doctor appears in court
The third and final suspect in the killing of a California doctor, Jon Kennison, 27, appears in court Friday, April 19, 2019. Kennison, Kelsey Nichole Turner, a former model, and Diana Pena, face charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Richard Cleaves of Pahrump arrested in burglary on former Binion property
Updated press release regarding burglary on a former Binion property: Richard Cleaves, 56 of Pahrump, has been arrested on a warrant for burglary, conspiracy to commit grand larceny, and destruction of property. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Judge denies bail for suspect charged in the killing of California doctor
Diana Pena, one of three people charged in the killing of a California doctor, is being held without bail after her fingerprints were found on the car where Dr. Thomas Burchard's body was discovered.
Ex-NFL player and girlfriend held without bail in child’s death
Former professional football player Cierre Wood and his girlfriend, Amy Taylor, face charges of murder and child abuse in the death of Taylor's 5-year-old daughter. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP identifies man who was shot by trooper on Mount Charleston
Nevada Highway Patrol updates the media on the April 2, 2019 officer involved shooting on Mount Charleston. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas court grants '90 Day Fiancé' defendant continuance
"90 Day Fiance" stars Colt Johnson and his mother Debra left the Las Vegas Justice Center Thursday, after the court granted Larissa dos Santos Lima a continuance in her misdemeanor case, in which she is accused of domestic violence against Colt. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Details released on in-custody death
Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank addresses media about details of an in-custody death at Clark County Detention Center on March 31. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Man hurt in shooting with Nevada troopers at Mount Charleston
A man was injured in a shooting involving Nevada Highway Patrol troopers Tuesday afternoon at Mount Charleston on state Route 157 near Echo Trail. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Officer wounds inmate during escape attempt
An officer fired on an inmate who stole a vehicle and tried to flee, ramming several cars and leading officers on a chase until he ran out of gas.
Man fatally shot during a 'beer skip'
A store clerk is being questioned after a man was fatally shot during a robbery at a gas station Friday. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Las Vegas police give details on fatal shooting
Metro homicide Lt. Ray Spencer gives a briefing on a fatal shooting near downtown Las Vegas that occurred on March 27, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas community pays tribute to boy killed by car
The community joined friends and family at Wilbur & Theresa Faiss Park, Wednesday evening, to remember the boy who was struck and killed by a car crossing South Fort Apache Road from Faiss Park, near West Maule Avenue, on Monday. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Person of Interest Found For Downtown Las Vegas Bar - Video
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is seeking help to find a person of interest in a potential homicide case at a bar in downtown Las Vegas.
Metro briefs media on OIS near downtown Las Vegas
Police address media about officer-involved shooting that started on Maryland and Vegas Valley, and concluded downtown, near the Golden Nugget.
Update on OIS at Vegas Valley and Maryland
The incident began at the Steinberg Diagnostic Medical parking lot and ended downtown.
Amy And Spencer Powell Recount Hit And Run
Amy Powell and her son Spencer recount the day Spencer was hit by a truck while riding his bike. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jeremy Burch of Tonopah arrested in Amarillo, TX
Jeremy Burch of Tonopah was arrested in Amarillo, TX on a Nye County warrant for open murder, burglary, obtaining money under false pretense, use of credit card w/o owner consent, and destruction of evidence. (Nye County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)
Metro Presser For OIS 6 (Full)
Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 19, 2019.
Metro Presser For OIS 6
Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 19, 2019.
Domestic disturbance call ends in suicide
A man died by suicide after police tried negotiating with him outside of his ex-girlfriend’s home on March 13. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
20-year-old armed robbery suspect shot by Las Vegas police
A 20-year-old armed robbery suspect shot by a Las Vegas officer on Saturday night is also accused of burglarizing a Boys & Girls Club minutes before the shooting.
Commercial Robbery On 3000 Block Of North Las Vegas Blvd - VIDEO
On February 19th, 2019, at approximately 10:23 am, a robbery occurred to a business located on the 3000 block of North Las Vegas Boulevard. The pictured suspect entered the business, approached the counter and pointed a firearm at the victim demanding money. The victim complied and the suspect fled with an undisclosed amount of money. No injuries were reported.
THE LATEST