Municipal Judge Diana Hampton of Henderson, Nevada, was found dead on Sunday. The ex-stripper was the first female municipal judge to ever be elected to the position in the Las Vegas suburb.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, emergency personnel found the body of 50-year-old Henderson Judge Diana Hampton during a welfare check at her home on Palazzo Reale Avenue around 12:30 p.m. Michelle French with the Henderson Police Department said there is currently no evidence of foul play.
Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen spoke highly of the mother of two and wife of a local police captain. He commended Hampton’s commitment to making the community a better place to live.
“She was a leader, serving as Chief Judge and working tirelessly to help make our community better. Her presence on the bench and in our community will be deeply missed.”
Prior to her election as municipal judge, Hampton practiced criminal and family law as well as serving as deputy city attorney. She was initially elected as Henderson’s Chief Judge in 2005 and then re-elected six years later.
During her campaign, she suffered intense criticism from political opponents for the years she spent as a Las Vegas stripper between college and law school. Many argued she should be disqualified from the bench for this past discretion.
In 1998, Hampton took a job as a stripper to pay for her education at the California Western School of Law. She openly disclosed her choice and did not regret it since she came from a poor family unable to afford her law degree.
She successfully deflected the pre-election criticism by saying her past did not discredit her skill to be a lawyer or judge.
“From the very beginning, she decided she was going to be a judge,” Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joe Sciscento said. “She was dedicated to that. She was focused on that, and she wouldn’t let things get in her way.”
The criticism continued even after her election. Some complained she was often late for early-morning sessions and was occasionally hit with insults from annual anonymous surveys of local attorneys’ views of area judges.
She was known for firing back at lawyers who complained about her perceived attitude.
“When you’re a woman it can be very difficult to be assertive without coming off as b—-y,” she said in a 2012 interview. “I try to be courteous. I invite anyone to come watch court. I guarantee nobody will think I’m rude.”
Judge Hampton was a catalyst in bringing the “Life of Crime” program to Henderson six years ago. The program discourages kids from participating in crime and introduces them to what life in jail is like through meetings with police officers and inmates.
Designed to teach young drivers about safety and alertness while driving, the Advance Interactive Driver’s Education program was created by Hampton just after being elected as judge. She was motivated to start the program from her experience seeing so many accidents caused by underage motorists.
Defense lawyer Ozzie Fumo was a friend of Hampton and said everything seemed fine when they made plans to meet for lunch last week. Fumo described her as an intelligent and “no nonsense kind of judge.”
The attorney added that Hampton had worked for him as an intern before she passed the bar and came to him for advice during the 2005 stripper controversy. She always wanted to do the right thing, said Fumo.
While foul play is not suspected, the investigation of Judge Diana Hampton’s death is early and ongoing, according to French. The Clark County Coroner’s Office did confirm she died on Sunday, but has not disclosed how.
[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]