Articles Posted in Nevada Supreme Court

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Landowners filed a complaint against the City of North Las Vegas for inverse condemnation and precondemnation damages. The district court awarded Landowners precondemnation damages and attorney fees, costs, and prejudgment interest. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s orders with the exception of the prejudgment interest award, which the Court reversed, concluding that the district court erred in failing to calculate prejudgment interest from the date on which the resulting injury arose. The City sought rehearing of that order on the prejudgment issue and on issues concerning the statute of limitations and standing. Although rehearing was not warranted, the Court took the opportunity to clarify the relevant law, holding (1) the Court’s dispositional order properly concluded that prejudgment interest should be calculated from the date of taking, which was the first date of compensable injury; (2) the City could not raise its statute of limitations argument for the first time on rehearing, and even if it could, that defense was inapplicable to the facts of this case; and (3) rehearing was not warranted to clarify whether the City can assert a standing defense on remand. View "City of N. Las Vegas v. 5th & Centennial, LLC" on Justia Law

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Appellant, an inmate, filed a timely post-conviction petition for writ of habeas corpus, which the district court denied on the merits. Appellant later filed a second post-conviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. Appellant’s petition was untimely and successive, but Appellant argued he had good cause to excuse the procedural bars because his first post-conviction counsel had provided ineffective assistance by failing to present these claims in his first post-conviction petition. At issue in this case was whether, in light of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Martinez v. Ryan, the ineffective assistance of post-conviction counsel may constitute good cause under Nev. Rev. Stat. 34.726(1) and Nev. Rev. Stat. 34.810 to allow a noncapital petitioner to file an untimely and successive post-conviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The district court dismissed Appellant’s petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Martinez does not alter the Court’s prior decisions that a petitioner has no constitutional right to post-conviction counsel and that post-conviction counsel’s performance does not constitute good cause to excuse the statutory procedural bars unless the appointment of that counsel was mandated by statute. View "Brown v. McDaniel" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of one count of first-degree murder, based on both premeditated and felony murder, and two counts of sexual assault. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court committed clear error by overruling his Batson objection and allowing the State to exercise peremptory challenges against several minority prospective jurors because the State’s explanations for striking the venirepersons were pretext for racial discrimination. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court clearly erred by allowing the State to exercise a peremptory challenge to dismiss an African-American prospective juror, as it was more likely than not that the State struck the prospective juror because of race. View "Conner v. State" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of conspiracy, kidnapping, and murder charges. Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court committed reversible error during the jury selection phase of trial. After the parties completed briefing on the matter, Defendant died. The district court appointed Defendant’s mother ("Mother") as his personal representative, and she substituted in as a party to the appeal. After the substitution, Mother filed a motion to abate Defendant’s judgment of conviction due to his death. The Supreme Court held (1) a criminal defendant is not entitled to have his judgment of conviction vacated and the prosecution abated when he dies while his appeal from the judgment is pending, but a personal representative may be substituted as the appellant and continue the appeal when justice so requires; and (2) in this case, Mother was entitled to continue Defendant’s appeal, and because of an error during jury selection, Defendant's conviction must be reversed. View "Brass v. State" on Justia Law

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Appellant was charged by three indictments with multiple felony counts regarding crimes of a sexual nature against children. Appellant requested access to information about the racial composition of the three grand jury pools that indicted him. The district judge denied Appellant’s request. After a subsequent jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of several counts. Appellant appealed, contending that he had the right to challenge the grand jury selection under the Equal Protection or Due Process Clauses of the United States Constitution and that the district violated his constitutional rights by obstructing his ability to challenge the racial composition of the grand juries that indicted him. The Supreme Court held that Appellant was entitled to the information so that he may assess whether he had a viable constitutional challenge. Remanded. View "Afzali v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged and convicted of sexual assault and incest for the rape of his daughter, with whom he fathered two children. Defendant appealed, arguing that because incest requires mutual consent and sexual assault is, by definition, nonconsensual, the two crimes were mutually exclusive. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) incest condemns sex between close relatives without regard to whether the intercourse was consensual; and (2) the jury instructions, which did not make mutual consent an element of incest, were not in error, and Defendant’s convictions for both incest and sexual assault did not violate double jeopardy. View "Douglas v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with a felony DUI after he was pulled over for driving a vehicle with a cracked windshield. Defendant filed a motion to suppress on the ground that Deputy Wendy Jason, the investigating officer, made a mistake of law that invalidated the investigatory traffic stop under the Fourth Amendment. Specifically, Jason testified that she stopped Defendant because his cracked windshield violated Nev. Rev. Stat. 484D.435. The district court granted Defendant’s motion because section 484D.435 does not prohibit operating a vehicle with a cracked windshield, even though the cracked windshield could violate another statute. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a police officer’s citation to an incorrect statute is not a mistake of law that invalidates an investigatory stop under the Fourth Amendment if another statute nonetheless prohibits the suspected conduct. Remanded. View "State v. Cantsee" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged by information with aggravated stalking, a felony. Defendant filed a motion to suppress text messages retrieved from his cell phone as a result of his arrest, arguing that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when law enforcement retrieved Defendant’s GPS coordinates from Defendant’s cell phone service provider in order to locate Defendant. The district court denied the motion. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of aggravated stalking. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were not violated because law enforcement procured a valid arrest warrant before requesting Defendant’s phone’s GPS coordinates; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant’s request to withdraw from self-representation because his motion was made with an intent to delay the proceedings. View "Meisler v. State" on Justia Law

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Randall Angel, then an inmate, filed a civil rights complaint against corrections officer Michael Cruse, in his individual capacity, alleging that Cruse violated his civil rights by filing a disciplinary charge against him and by having him placed in administrative segregation in retaliation for Angel’s attempt to file a grievance against Cruse. The district court granted summary judgment to Cruse, finding that the evidence demonstrated that Angel had actually threatened Cruse, and in the alternative, Cruse was entitled to qualified immunity because he could not have known that the adverse action violated Angel’s constitutional rights. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed with regard to each of the disputed elements of the retaliation claim and with regard to Cruse’s entitlement to qualified immunity. Remanded. View "Angel v. Cruse" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was Nev. Rev. Stat. 50.315, which provides that the declaration of a person who collects a criminal defendant’s blood for evidentiary testing may be admitted at trial. The City of Reno charged Respondent with misdemeanor driving under the influence. At a bench trial, the City sought to introduce into evidence the declaration of a phlebotomist who collected Respondent’s blood for evidentiary testing after Respondent’s arrest. Respondent objected, and the municipal court excluded the declaration on Confrontation Clause grounds. The district court denied the City’s subsequent petition for a writ of mandamus, determining that admitting the phlebotomist’s declaration into evidence over Respondent’s objection would have violated Respondent’s right to confrontation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts requires the Court to overrule its prior decision in City of Las Vegas v. Walsh, where it held that Nev. Rev. Stat. 50.315(6) adequately protects the rights provided by the Confrontation Clause; and (2) section 50.315(6)’s requirement that a defendant establish a substantial and bona fide dispute regarding the facts in a declaration made and offered as evidence pursuant to section 50.315(4) impermissibly burdens the right to confrontation. View "City of Reno v. Howard" on Justia Law