I-Team: Former vice cop and deputy DA ordered to appear in court

Questions about possible corruption

LAS VEGAS - The legal tables were turned Thursday for a well-known prosecutor and a former star detective.

Attorneys for a convicted pimp used subpoenas to get deputy district attorney Liz Mercer and former vice cop Chris Baughman to court for depositions under oath.

At issue, are some of the same allegations being pursued in an ongoing FBI probe of police corruption.

The I-Team was present for part of the hearing then was ordered to leave.

For years, vice detective Chris Baughman and prosecutor Liz Mercer were regular fixtures at news conferences and in high-profile trials.

Baughman was often the lead investigator and star witness in cases made against big time pimps and Liz Mercer was the principal prosecutor in those same cases, including the one that sent Ocean Fleming to prison for life.

Fleming alleged during his original trial that Baughman and Mercer had coached witnesses to exaggerate his crimes, and that Baughman and other vice cops had engaged in sexual relations with prostitutes who testified against their pimps.

On Thursday, both were back in court, but this time, on the other side. Both Baughman and Mercer -- who are now a married couple -- were subpoenaed so Ocean Fleming's attorneys could depose them as part of Fleming's bid for a new trial.

Almost immediately, special prosecutor Adam Gill asked the judge to kick the I-Team out of the courtroom.

"Their camera, I believe, is running now and I think it is incredibly inappropriate," Gill said. "I'd ask that it be shut down now judge."

The reason private attorney Adam Gill is representing the state in the case is that the DA's office recused itself once it was established that Liz Mercer, who still works for the district attorney, had been less than forthright about her relationship with Baughman.

Judge Michael Villani eventually agreed that the court should be cleared of all parties not directly involved in the case, but that came to include more than the media.

Fleming's attorney Michael Cristalli asked why a lawyer for the Metro police department should be allowed to stick around.

"They don't represent either one of these individuals," Cristalli said. "They really have no standing in this case."

An attorney for Metro gave a startling response about what she expects the former detective to say under oath.

"The allegations being made for post conviction relief are against officers and this testimony is going to implicate officers," said Jackie Nichols, attorney for Metro police.

Although Baughman was deposed, his wife, Liz Mercer, fought it. Her lawyers said she could always be questioned at a later hearing. Fleming's lawyer Janiece Marshall told the court that deputy DA Mercer had repeatedly dodged attempts to be served with legal papers, even while at the DA's office.

"It was communicated to me that Miss Mercer was quite hostile to our process server and made it very difficult to process," Marshall said.

Mercer left without saying a word, even when asked by I-Team photographer Matt Adams.

It is not known which, if any, questions Chris Baughman answered under oath, but the same questions could be raised again, if or when the FBI uncorks the corruption allegations it has been investigating for the past three years.

As a matter of policy, the FBI does not confirm the existence of any investigation. However, attorneys for the DA, the special prosecutor, Metro, and several defendants have said -- on the record -- that the corruption investigation is real and is ongoing.

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