January 31, 2004 by

Harry Claiborne


Categories: Criminals, Law

Harry Eugene Claiborne, the first federal judge to be sent to prison, committed suicide on Jan. 19.

Claiborne received his law degree from Cumberland University and was admitted to the Arkansas and Nevada bars. He spent two years as a deputy district attorney in Las Vegas before going into private practice as one of Nevada’s top defense lawyers. Whenever a celebrity needed legal advice in Las Vegas, the masterful litigator was the person to call. He handled a divorce for Judy Garland and settled casino licensing cases for Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

He lost his bid for the Senate in 1964, but his opponent, Senator Howard Cannon, later recommended Claiborne for a federal district court judgeship. President Jimmy Carter appointed him to the bench in 1978.

He was serving as the chief U.S. district judge for Nevada in 1984 when he was indicted on bribery, fraud and tax evasion charges. His first trial ended in a hung jury, but he was eventually convicted of fraud for failing to report more than $107,000 on his 1979 and 1980 federal income tax returns. In 1986, he was removed from the bench by the Senate and served 17 months in prison. He was one of only seven federal officials in U.S. history to be removed from office through impeachment.

After his prison term ended, the Nevada Supreme Court reinstated him to the bar and he returned to private practice. Claiborne, who had cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, died of a self-inflicted gunshot. He was 86.

4 Responses to Harry Claiborne

  1. David Guardino

    There is a picture of Judge Claiborne and me in the archives section of my web site http://www.guardino.net taken in my home in Las Vegas years ago while he was awaiting trial.
    Harry Claiborne was a charming, brilliant, sensitive,caring and an innocent man. A book will be written about his fabulous life that will totally exonerate the Judge and place th criminality where it belongs: upon those who persecuted and prosecuted him!

  2. Dewayne Blevins

    Yes, glorify him.
    Harry Claiborne was bribed to be lenient on Walter Rozanski, the scapegoat for my uncle’s murder. You see, Ted Binion of the Horseshoe shot my uncle in the back of the head in cold blood in public with witnesses, but threw enough money around to turn around three witnesses. Rozanski pled guilty to manslaughter 1, and the judge gave him 6 months. PROBATION.
    So Harry is roasting in hell the fucking bastard.

  3. Aaron

    @Dewayne… You sound like a real stand up guy saying that about the best human being that I have ever met in my whole entire life!
    Regardless of what you opinions are about him you should have enough decency and respect to not write and accuse him of an allegation that you say he was responsible for and that is currently and I quote “Roasting in hell” for… I loved him more than anything or anyone in this whole world and not 1 single day has of will go by where I do not think about him. I myself feel as I am the luckiest person in the world to have had him in my life. I love you grandpa!

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