Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada

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The district court erred in invalidating a search warrant for an evidentiary blood draw and suppressing the blood draw evidence because there was probable cause to support the search warrant. After failing a preliminary breath test (PBT) Respondent was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. The results of the PBT were used to obtain a search warrant for an evidentiary blood draw. The district court suppressed the PBT results, determining that they were obtained in violation of Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. The court then suppressed the evidentiary blood draw, concluding that it was the fruit of an illegal search. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court did not err in finding that the PBT results were obtained in violation of Defendant’s constitutional rights; but (2) there was probable cause to support the search warrant even without the PBT evidence, and therefore, the district court erroneously invalidated the search warrant and suppressed the subsequent blood draw evidence. View "State v. Sample" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of one count each of conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon and two counts each of robbery with the use of a deadly weapon and murder with the use of a deadly weapon. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court violated right to a public trial by closing the courtroom to members of the public during jury selection without making sufficient findings to warrant the closure. The Supreme Court held that, under Presley v. Georgia, 558 U.S. 209 (2010), this violation constituted structural error, but because Defendant did not preserve the error for appellate review, under Nevada law, Defendant must demonstrate plain error that affected his substantial rights. Following the United States Supreme Court’s guidance in Weaver v. Massachusetts, 582 U.S. __ (2017), the Supreme Court held that Defendant failed to satisfy plain error review. Further, Defendant was not entitled to relief on his other claims, and Defendant’s death sentences were supported by review of the record under Nev. Rev. Stat. 177.055(2). View "Jeremias v. State" on Justia Law

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Nev. Rev. Stat. 453.3385 creates a separate offense for each schedule I controlled substance. The State charged Defendant with trafficking in a controlled substance after discovering two bags of heroin totaling 9.445 grams and three bags of methamphetamine totaling 9.532 grams in Defendant’s apartment. Specifically, the State charged Defendant with possessing 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams, of a schedule I controlled substance in violation of section 453.3385(2). Defendant moved to strike the trafficking counts, arguing that the State could not charge him with “an aggregate of completely separate controlled substances” and that the State could not charge him for having a mixture of heroin and meth because the drugs were not mixed into one bag. The district court denied the motion, concluding that the weight of different schedule I drugs simultaneously possessed by a defendant may be aggregated under section 453.3385. A jury convicted Defendant of the charge. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) in section 453.3385, the Legislature intended to create a separate offense for each controlled substance simultaneously possessed by a person; and (2) the weights of different controlled substances may not be aggregated together to form a single offense under section 453.3385. View "Andrews v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant in this case had “an adequate opportunity” (see Chavez v. State, 213 P.3d 476, 482 (Nev. 2009)) to cross-examine a witness when, immediately after the State’s direct examination at the preliminary hearing, Defendant waived his right to continue the preliminary hearing. Jeffrey Baker was charged with sexually motivated coercion and eight counts of lewdness with a child under the age of fourteen. At the preliminary hearing, C.J. testified regarding two instances in which Baker attempted to engage her in sexual activity. When C.J. finished testifying, Defendant waived his right to continue the preliminary hearing and plead guilty to one count of attempted lewdness with a minor. The court rejected Baker’s plea. C.J. subsequently committed suicide. The State moved to admit at trial the transcript of C.J.’s testimony at the preliminary hearing. The district court denied the motion on the grounds that Baker did not have an adequate opportunity cross-examine C.J. at the preliminary hearing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Confrontation Clause guarantees an opportunity to cross-examine and does not give defendants a sword to strike adverse testimony that the defendant chose not to contest. View "State v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's postconviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The court held that the filing of a bar complaint does not create a per se conflict of interest that rises to the level of a violation of the Sixth Amendment, and defendant did not assert that the filing of the bar complaint adversely affected his counsel's behavior or caused his counsel to defend him less diligently, and thus he did not present a conflict-of-interest claim that would entitle him to relief. Therefore, the district court did not err by denying defendant's claim without conducting an evidentiary hearing. View "Jefferson v. Nevada" on Justia Law

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The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order revoking probation and an amended judgment of conviction. The court held that in an appeal taken from an amended judgment of conviction, the appellant may only raise challenges that arise from the amendments made to the original judgment of conviction. In this case, defendant did not challenge the amendments made to his original judgment of conviction. View "Jackson v. State" on Justia Law

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The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed defendant's conviction for battery with the use of a deadly weapon. The court held that, within the context of battery, "deadly weapon" included an instrument which, under the circumstances in which it is used, is readily capable of causing substantial bodily harm or death. The court has consistently defined "deadly weapon" according to both the functional and the inherently dangerous definitions, and thus the district court acted within its discretion in settling the jury instructions in the context of battery according to the functional definition. Therefore, the screwdriver defendant used was considered a deadly weapon. View "Rodriguez v. Nevada" on Justia Law

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The Nevada Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus instructing the district court to vacate its order denying petitioner's motion for expert services at public expense and to reconsider the motion. In Widdis v. Second Judicial District Court, 114 Nev. 1224, 968 P.2d 1165 (1998), the court held that, notwithstanding the ability to retain counsel, a defendant is entitled to reasonable and necessary defense services at public expense if the defendant demonstrates both indigency and a need for the requested services. In this case, the court clarified the definition of an indigent person as well as the demonstration of need sufficient for a request for defense services. The court made clear that Widdis does not require an indigent defendant to request a sum certain before a motion for defense services at public expense can be considered or granted. View "Brown v. The Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated and reversed in part Defendant’s convictions of child abuse and neglect, twenty-nine counts of use of a child in the production of pornography, ten counts of possession of visual presentation depicting the sexual conduct of a child, and open or gross lewdness. The court held (1) the State properly charged Defendant with two counts of violating Nev. Rev. Stat. 200.710(2) for each video file that depicted two minors; (2) Defendant was improperly convicted under section 200.730 on a per-image basis without showing the mechanics of how Defendant recorded and saved the various video files and digital images of children on his laptop; (3) Nevada’s statutes barring the “sexual portrayal” of minors do not implicate protected speech and are not unconstitutionally vague; (4) there was insufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction under Nev. Rev. Stat. 201.210; and (5) Defendant’s asserted trial errors did not warrant reversal. View "Shue v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s convictions for burglary, robbery, coercion, and other crimes and Appellant’s sentence as a habitual criminal. The court held (1) contrary to Appellant’s argument on appeal, the district court properly considered Appellant’s prior conviction from 1984 in sentencing Appellant as a habitual criminal because the conviction was not stale, and the prior conviction resulting from an offense Appellant committed as a minor could be used for habitual criminal sentencing; (2) Appellant’s sentence did not violate the Eighth Amendment; and (3) because there was no error established by Appellant on this appeal, there was none to cumulate. View "Mullner v. State" on Justia Law