A 50-year-old woman who overcame controversy surrounding her past stripping career to become the first elected female judge in Henderson was found dead in her Nevada home on Sunday.
Henderson Municipal Judge Diana Hampton was discovered after city police responded to a welfare check at her home.
Foul play is not suspected but the investigation is in its early stages, according to Henderson Police spokeswoman Michelle French.
Hampton, a mother of two, served as a municipal judge since 2005. She was re-elected in April 2011.
Defense lawyer Ozzie Fumo, who Hampton once worked for as an intern, said she had called him before running for judge with concern her past might be an issue.
Hampton stripped for a year in Las Vegas in 1998 after graduating with a degree in Kinesiology to pay for her education at the California Western School of Law.
Fumo said Hampton never shied away from her past and said it didn’t affect her skills as a lawyer or a judge. He advised her to ’embrace it’, Fumo told The Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joe Sciscento was surprised by the death of his friend, who he said very intelligent and a ‘hard-driven’ ‘no nonsense kind of judge’.
‘From the very beginning, she decided she was going to be a judge,’ he said of Hampton, who he knew for more than two decades.
‘She was dedicated to that. She was focused on that, and she wouldn’t let things get in her way.’
Fumo said Hampton was someone who ‘really cared about doing the right thing’.
Before she was elected judge, Hampton was deputy city attorney for Henderson and prosecuted drunken driving and domestic battery cases.
In her second year as judge, Hampton created the Advance Interactive Driver’s Education program to teach juvenile drivers to become more alert and safer behind the wheel.
She was inspired to start the program after seeing ‘firsthand the amount of underage catastrophes’ on the road, according to her biography on the City of Henderson website.
In 2010 Hampton initiated the Life of Crime program in the city, which works to discourage youth from lives of crime by having them talk to police officers and current inmates to see life behind bars.
Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen said Hampton helped the city’s youth understand ‘the consequences of choices’.
‘[She] helped them learn about personal responsibility and positive decision making,’ his statement read.
‘She was a great advocate for justice and fairness. 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.’