Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court permitting the State to introduce evidence of prior, uncharged sexual acts committed by Appellant in the instant prosecution for a sexual offense for purposes of showing propensity under Nev. Rev. Stat. 48.045(3), holding that the district court did not plainly err by permitting the State to introuce evidence of Appellant’s prior conduct for propensity purposes. Specifically, the Court held (1) the plain language of section 48.045(3) permits the district court to admit evidence of a separate sexual offense for purposes of proving propensity in a sexual offense prosecution; (2) while such evidence may be admitted without the district court holding a Petrocelli hearing, evidence of separate acts constituting sexual offenses must be evaluated for relevance and heightened risk of unfair prejudice; and (3) the district court did not commit plain error by allowing the State to introduce evidence of Appellant’s prior sexual acts for propensity purposes. View "Franks v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed and remanded this criminal case for a new trial, holding that the district court clearly erred when it found that Defendant had not made out a prima facie case of discrimination in challenging the State’s use of peremptory challenges to remove two African-American women during jury selection. Defendant was charged with child abuse, neglect, or endangerment and other offenses. Defendant objected to the State’s exercise of two of its peremptory challenges to remove two African-Americans from the jury. The district court denied Defendant’s Batson challenge. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court clearly erred when it terminated the Batson analysis at step one of the three-step analysis and that the record did not clearly support the denial of Defendant’s objection. View "Cooper v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of conviction, pursuant to a jury verdict, of three count of first-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon and other offenses, holding that the admission of photographs of the victims was an abuse of the district court’s discretion, but the error was harmless, and none of Defendant’s other claims warranted relief. After Defendant shot and killed a motorist, the motorist’s car struck a taxicab, killing the driver and a passenger. On appeal, Defendant challenged the district court’s admission at trial of photographs of the taxicab victims. The Supreme Court held (1) the challenged photographs, including images of the taxicab victims’ bodies disfigured by fire and subsequent autopsies, should have been excluded because they added little to the State’s case but did create a significant risk of inflaming the jury, but the admission of the photographs was harmless; and (2) Defendant’s remaining claims on appeal were unavailing. View "Harris v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the State’s interlocutory appeal from a district court order granting a motion to suppress evidence, holding that the State failed to demonstrate “good cause” as contemplated by Nev. Rev. Stat. 177.015(2). At issue was the district court’s suppression order suppressing Defendant’s incriminating statements made during a recorded interrogation on the ground that the statements were involuntary. The State appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the State failed to establish that a miscarriage of justice would result if the Court did not entertain its appeal. View "State v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s conviction for exploitation of a vulnerable person and theft, holding that the district court erred by instructing the jury that a person’s status as a joint account holder does not by itself provide lawful authority to use or transfer another's assets for their own benefit and that the error was not harmless. On appeal, Defendant argued, in part, that the instruction was a misstatement of law because it directly contradicts Nev. Rev. Stat. 100.085. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding (1) the instruction was inconsistent with section 100.085 and did not accurately and completely reflect the reasoning and conclusion in Walch v. State, 909 P.2d 1184 (1996); and (2) therefore, the jury instruction was not a correct statement of the law, and the error in giving the instruction was not harmless. View "Natko v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the determination of the district court that Glenn Miller Doolin was not entitled to the application of credit to his parole eligibility and minimum term for a sentence imposed pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 207.010, holding that Nev. Rev. Stat. 209.4465(8)(d) precluded application of statutory credit. In so holding, the Court reasoned that both the sentence and category of conviction are enhanced when an offender is adjudicated a habitual criminal pursuant to section 207.010, and because such an adjudication will always enhance a conviction for a lower category felony to either a category A or B felony, section 209.4465(8)(d) precludes application of the statutory credit to the offender’s parole eligibility and minimum term. The Court then held that where Doolin was adjudicated a habitual criminal pursuant to section 207.010(1)(a), he was not entitled to the application of credit to his parole eligibility and minimum term. View "Doolin v. State, Department of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Defendant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus as procedurally barred, holding that the district court did not err by finding that Defendant failed to overcome the procedural bars. Plaintiff, who was convicted of first-degree murder, filed the instant postconviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus more than twenty years after the remittitur was issued from his direct appeal. Plaintiff argued that he was entitled to the retroactive benefit of the narrowed definition of “willful, deliberate and premeditated” murder announced in Byford v. State, 994 P.2d 700 (Nev. 2000) and thus was entitled to a new trial. The district court dismissed the petition as procedurally time-barred, concluding that Defendant failed to demonstrate good cause or a fundamental miscarriage of justice to overcome the procedural bars. See Nev. Rev. Stat. 34.726(1) and Nev. Rev. Stat. 34.810(1)(b),(2). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the United States Supreme Court decisions in Welch v. United States, 578 U.S. __ (2016), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. __ (2016), do not constitute good cause to raise a procedurally barred claim arguing that a nonconstitutional rule should be applied retroactively. View "Branham v. Baca" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the State’s petition for a writ of prohibition or mandamus, holding that the district court had authority to order the State to share criminal history information obtained from databases to which the defense did not have access. Francisco Ojeda, who was charged with murder, filed a pretrial motion seeking an order compelling the State to disclose the criminal histories of veniremembers before jury selection. The district court granted the motion, grounding its authority to order disclosure in Nev. Rev. Stat. 179A.100(7)(j). Thereafter, the State filed the instant petition arguing that the district court did not have the authority to compel the disclosure of the veniremembers’ criminal history records. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding (1) a district court has the authority compel the State to disclose veniremegber criminal histories; and (2) the district court did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in requiring the State to share veniremember criminal history information. View "State v. Second Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s judgment of conviction, pursuant to a guilty plea, of battery resulting in substantial bodily harm committed against an older person, holding that the district court did not impermissibly impose double sentencing enhancements for the same primary offense. The district court sentenced Defendant to a maximum of sixty months’ imprisonment for the crime of battery resulting in substantial bodily harm under Nev. Rev. Stat. 200.481(2)(b) and an additional 120 months’ maximum imprisonment for committing that crime against an older person under Nev. Rev. Stat. 193.167. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the addition of an older person enhancement to Defendant’s sentence under section 200.481(2)(b) did not violate Nevada law prohibiting multiple sentencing enhancements for the same primary offense because the statute is not an enhancement statute. View "Rodriguez v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the State’s petition for a writ of mandamus or prohibition challenging the district court’s decision finding Nev. Rev. Stat. 176A.290(2) unconstitutional and striking the unconstitutional language from the statute, holding that the statute, which grants the prosecutor veto power over a district court’s sentencing decision, violates Nevada’s separation of powers doctrine. Matthew Green Hearn pleaded guilty to battery by a prisoner. A specialty courts officer deemed Hearn eligible for the veterans court, but at sentencing, the State refused to stipulate to Hearn’s assignment to veterans court pursuant to section 176A.290(2). The district court concluded that the statute violates the separation of powers doctrine by conditioning the judicial department’s discretion to place certain offenders into a treatment program on the prosecutor’s stipulation. The Supreme Court agreed with the district court, holding (1) because section 176A.290(2) grants a prosecutor veto power over a district court’s sentencing decision, the district court correctly deemed the statute unconstitutional; and (2) the district court correctly determined that the unconstitutional language was severable. View "State v. Second Judicial District Court" on Justia Law