Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada
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The Supreme Court reversed in part the district court's order denying a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking body cam footage and other related records regarding juveniles and then-State Senator Aaron Ford's interaction with the police due to the confidentiality of juvenile justice records, holding that the petition was correctly denied as to all portions of the bodycam footage but that the district court erred in granting the petition as to the other requested records. Officers with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) arrested numerous juvenile suspects after responding to an incident. Ford, a parent of one of the suspects, arrived at the scene. The Republican Attorneys General Association's (RAGA) requested records from LVMPD related to the incident in accordance with the Nevada Public Records Act. LVMPD refused the request, citing Nev. Rev. Stat. 62H.025 and 62H.030 to justify its assertion of confidentiality. RAGA petitioned for a writ of mandamus. The district court denied the petition. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the district court (1) did not err in finding that all portions of requested bodycam footage contained confidential juvenile justice information; but (2) failed sufficiently to assess whether the other requested records contained any nonconfidential material. View "Republican Attorneys General Ass'n v. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment of conviction and amended judgment of conviction convicting Defendant of first-degree murder and other crimes and denying Defendant's motion for a new trial, holding that any error was harmless. A jury found Defendant guilty of first-degree murder, sexual assault, and burglary and denied Defendant's motions for a new trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in admitting evidence of other bad acts; (2) did not violate Defendant's rights under the Confrontation Clause; (3) did not violate Defendant's due process right to a fair trial by admitting autopsy photographs; (4) did not deny Defendant a fair trial by invoking Nevada hearsay rules to exclude certain testimony; (5) erred by not allowing Defendant to introduce certain evidence, but the error was harmless; and (6) did not tolerate prosecutorial misconduct. Further, the conviction was supported by sufficient evidence, and the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence. View "Flowers v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Petitioner's petition to seal criminal records, holding that because the parties did not cite all of the proper statutes governing Petitioner's petition and the district court did not apply all of the controlling statutes the court erred in concluding that all of Petitioner's convictions were ineligible for sealing. At issue in this appeal was whether, if enough time elapses so that a petitioner's later conviction is sealed and deemed never to have occurred, that makes an earlier conviction eligible also to be sealed since it is no longer chronologically followed by another later conviction, even though it would not have been eligible prior to sealing the later conviction. The Supreme Court held (1) district courts have discretion to evaluate successive convictions in reverse chronological order, thereby potentially sealing earlier convictions that would not have been eligible had the court instead considered the convictions in forward chronological order; and (2) even if a later conviction has been sealed, the district court may still consider it in deciding whether earlier convictions should be sealed or not and in concluding whether the petitioner was truly rehabilitated. View "In re Application of Finley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of conviction, pursuant to a jury verdict, of two counts of first-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon and other crimes, holding that the district court erred in precluding Defendant from asserting duress as a defense to the charged crimes which were not punishable with death. Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted murder with the use of a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit murder, and burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon. At issue on appeal was whether the language in Nev. Rev. Stat. 194.010(8) stating that duress cannot be asserted as a defense to a crime that "is punishable with death" can be interpreted to include crimes that are not punishable with death but require proof of intent to commit a crime that is punishable by death. The Supreme Court held (1) section 194.010(8) cannot be interpreted to limit the duress defense with respect to crimes that are not punishable with death regardless of the relationship between those crimes and another crime that is punishable with death; and (2) the district court's error in precluding Defendant from asserting duress as a defense to the crimes not punishable by death was not harmless. View "Cabrera v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying a prisoner's petition for judicial review challenging the amount of compensation he received, upon his release, in connection with the industrial injury he suffered while incarcerated, holding that the administrative appeals officer properly affirmed the calculation of the prisoner's average monthly wage. Appellant was injured while working for Nevada Division of Forestry while he was incarcerated. Respondent accepted Appellant's workers' compensation claim. After Appellant was released he sought to have the benefits calculated at the minimum wage guaranteed under the Nevada Constitution. Under the modified workers' compensation program for prisoners, however, the amount of compensation a prisoner may receive upon release is based on the average monthly wage the prisoner actually received as of the date of the injury. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order denying Appellant's petition for judicial review, holding that an administrative appeals officer is not permitted to recalculate the average monthly wage at an amount the prisoner did not actually receive while incarcerated. View "White v. State, Division of Forestry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's decision applying the pre-2007 version of Nev. Rev. Stat. 209.4465 to Defendant's criminal conduct in this case, holding that the 2007 amendment to Nev. Rev. Stat. 209.4465 applies when the charged offense is continuous in nature but that attempted lewdness with a child under fourteen is not a continuing offense. Defendant was convicted of two counts of attempted lewdness with a child under fourteen and was alleged to have committed the offenses between 2006 and 2013. The district court applied the 2003 version of section 209.4465. On appeal, the State argued that section 209.4465(8)(2007) applied to Defendant's offenses because the attempted lewdness counts were charged as continuing offenses through 2013. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) attempted lewdness with a child under the age of fourteen is not a continuing offense; and (2) the district court properly relied on the 2003 version of section 209.4465 and applied Defendant's earned credits to his parole eligibility. View "High Desert State Prison v. Sanchez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Respondent's pretrial motion to dismiss the indictment for violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial, holding that Respondent properly invoked his speedy-trial right, Respondent was entitled to a presumption of prejudice, and the State failed to rebut that presumption. The district court concluded that the State violated Respondent's right to a speedy trial because the State's gross negligence caused a twenty-six-month delay between the filing of charges and Respondent's arrest, and the State failed to rebut the presumption that the delay prejudiced Respondent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in concluding that Respondent was entitled to a presumption o prejudice under the facts enunciated in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972), and Doggett v. United States, 505 U.S. 647 (1992); and (2) the State did not rebut this presumption or explain on appeal how Respondent was not prejudiced by the delay. View "State v. Inzunza" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of conviction, pursuant to a jury verdict, of seven counts of robbery with the use of a deadly weapon and other offenses, holding that Defendant made specific factual allegations that could be sufficient to establish a prima facie violation of the requirement that a Defendant choose from a fair cross section of the community and those allegations were not disproved, and therefore, the district court abused its discretion by denying Defendant's request for an evidentiary hearing. At issue in this case was when an evidentiary hearing may be warranted on a fair-cross-section claim. The Supreme Court held (1) an evidentiary hearing is warranted on a fair-cross-section challenge when a defendant makes specific allegations that, if true, would be sufficient to establish a prima facie violation of the fair-cross-section requirement; (2) the district court abused its discretion in denying Defendant's request for an evidentiary hearing on his fair-cross-section challenge; and (3) none of Defendant's other arguments required a new trial. View "Valentine v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court admitting certain out-of-court statements after finding that the witness was unavailable and that Defendant had intentionally deterred the witness from appearing at trial, holding that the district court correctly concluded that the State met its burden under the preponderance of the evidence standard. Defendant was charged with attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon and other crimes. When the State sought to admit Defendant's daughter's out-of-court statements to a district court's office investigator Defendant asserted his right to confrontation. The trial court admitted the statements, finding that the witness was unavailable and that Defendant had intentionally deterred the witness from appearing at trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) when invoking the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception to the Confrontation Clause the preponderance of the evidence standard is the appropriate burden of proof; and (2) the district court applied the correct standard, and the court did not err in its application of the exception. View "Anderson v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court declined to reconsider well-settled Nevada law that when a district court imposes a sentence in a criminal case it must give a defendant credit for any time the defendant was spent in presentence confinement absent an express statutory provision making the defendant ineligible for such credit and remanded the case with instructions for the district court to give Appellant the required credit for time served in presentence confinement. Defendant pleaded guilty to grand larceny of an automobile, less than $3,500, and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle. After she was sentenced Defendant appealed, arguing that the distrixt court erred by failing to give her credit for time served in presentence confinement. The State urged the Supreme Court to overrule established precedent holding that sentencing courts must award credit for time served in presentence confinement. The Supreme Court concluded that there was no compelling reason to overturn precedent, and based on that precedent, held that the district court erred in forfeiting Defendant's presentence credit as a condition of probation. View "Poasa v. State" on Justia Law