Ex-Las Vegas judge who resigned to settle ethics probe dies
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A former Las Vegas judge who resigned from her elected position in 2021 to settle a state ethics and discipline investigation has died, according to authorities.
The Clark County coroner’s office confirmed Saturday that Melanie Andress Tobiasson, 55, died Friday from a gunshot wound.
The coroner ruled the death a suicide, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
No other information was immediately released about the death.
Tobiasson’s final years as a Las Vegas justice of the peace were overshadowed by allegations that she became improperly enmeshed in a double-murder investigation.
Her death comes weeks after her divorce from husband Murray Tobiasson had been finalized, court records show.
Murray Tobiasson declined comment about the former judge’s death when reached by phone by The Associated Press as did the woman’s father, Don Andress.
Melanie Tobiasson stepped down from the bench in May 2021, after reaching an agreement with the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline. As part of that deal, Tobiasson said she would neither seek nor accept judicial office in the state “at any time in the future,” according to the agreement.
“I have been vilified, lied about and accused of wrongdoing, when in fact what I did was appropriate and should be applauded,” Tobiasson told the Review-Journal at the time. “I’m resigning because they have terrorized and lied about me for three years.”
The state Commission on Judicial Discipline had leveled sweeping accusations against Tobiasson, saying she allowed family interests to influence her conduct.
According to the commission, Tobiasson had urged Las Vegas vice detectives in 2015 to investigate Shane Valentine, a man she accused of trying to lure her then-teenage daughter into prostitution.
The following year, Valentine, a felon, was named a person of interest in an October 2016 shooting in Las Vegas that left Sydney Land, 21, and Nehemiah Kauffman, 20, dead.
The commission said Tobiasson “personally investigated” the case — and while doing so reached out to Land’s mother — “because she believed Valentine had committed the murders,” according to the Review-Journal.
Valentine has never charged in connection with the shootings. Court records show no arrests have been made in the case.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department investigated Tobiasson’s actions, the Review-Journal reported, but detectives found that she had not committed any crimes.
Tobiasson, who was first appointed to the bench in 2009, became licensed in January 1993 to practice law in Nevada.
Associated Press reporter Ken Ritter contributed.