Did State Court Reverse a Federal Court?
More Allegations Appear Against
Former Judge Jerry Carr Whitehead

  By Steve Miller
  copyright (c) 1996, Electric Nevada

When Jerry Carr Whitehead resigned his State of Nevada judgeship early this year rather than face federal prosecution, the actual charges against him were kept under seal and never made public.  
But a host of previously unreported criminal complaints against Whitehead have surfaced in court papers obtained by Electric Nevada this week.
The documents -- filed in a case that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, recently agreed to hear -- allege that Whitehead for years knowingly and maliciously entered unlawful orders and sanctions against a Sparks businessman in an effort to compel him to abandon debt-collection rights won in a 1987 federal bankruptcy court judgment and to keep him from competing in the paging market with the debtor company.
The debtor company, a Reno beeper firm now known as Fast Page, was known as ARC Systems of Reno, Inc. at the time of its 1987 bankruptcy reorganization plan, supervised by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge James H. Thompson.
Under that plan [see accompanying story for details], the firm agreed that representatives of its creditors were to be allowed to "inspect any of the equipment" as collateral for money owed the creditors, "at a reasonable place and in a reasonable manner at any reasonable time."
However, in August, 1988, when an attorney for businessman Mark A. Edwards -- a paging systems entrepreneur whose equipment, leases, FCC license, trademarks, systems design and software had provided the entire original endowment of the company -- wrote and asked the debtor firm to "designate what, when and where the inspection shall be allowed," the company, by then renamed Fast Page, Inc., hastened to Jerry Carr Whitehead, and sought and received an Ex Parte Restraining Order to block any such inspection or verification.
Such inspection, said Whitehead, would appear to be "a tortious interference and obstruction of plaintiff's right to carry on its business" and would "do an irreparable injury to plaintiff."
Although bankruptcy matters are, under the U.S. Constitution, under the jurisdiction of the federal courts, Whitehead, a judge of the Second Judicial District of the State of Nevada, on October 18, 1988, turned the restraining order into a preliminary injunction, the intent of which was, he said, to maintain "the current 'status quo'" between Edwards and Fast Page, and insure "there shall be no disruption of plaintiff's [Fast Page's] business by virtue of the exercise of any rights being granted to defendants [Edwards and others] herein."

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Early next year at a January 1989 hearing, the court documents charge, Whitehead "attempted to coerce an assignment of the rights granted by the bankruptcy court," using threats of "incarceration, monetary sanction, and financial and professional ruin."
When Edwards refused, he says in count I of the complaint he filed early this year against Whitehead, the district judge told him he "would see to it that this was the sorriest day of Plaintiff's life." and subsequently "Whitehead sanctioned Plaintiff and others several hundred thousand dollars and permanently restrained Plaintiff and others from exercising those rights granted by statute and federal court order and judgment."
On August 7, 1989, state district judge Whitehead issued a conclusion of law that his court had jurisdiction over all relevant issues, made permanent his earlier preliminary injunction, and modified the U.S. Bankruptcy Court's position that the creditors could make reasonable inspections of the equipment that formed the collateral for the debt.
Instead, Whitehead ordered that Edwards and the other creditors henceforth "are allowed to conduct no inspections of plaintiff's books, records, collateral or inventory."
According to the lawsuit complaint, Edwards has filed criminal complaints against Whitehead with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Las Vegas Federal Grand Jury, the U.S. Attorney's office for the district of Nevada, the federal U.S. Trustees Office and the Office of the Nevada Attorney General.
Edwards' lawsuit is not only against Whitehead, but also Second Judicial District Judge Deborah A. Agosti, who, count II of the complaint says, in 1993 also issued a Preliminary Injunction and Restraining Order stopping Edwards "from exercising those rights granted by statute and federal order and judgment."
While Agosti recognized that both she and Whitehead had lacked jurisdiction in the bankruptcy matter, says Edwards in his complaints, she, "incredibly, continued to issue orders" and "has refused to respect the orders of the bankruptcy court, and is attempting to grant relief to the bankrupt debtor in the same fashion as Whitehead. Debtor Fast Page is in arrears in payment in the approximate amount of $270,000 as of January 1, 1996, and continues to enjoy the use of the intellectual and real property of Plaintiff which is the subject of the default action."

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