Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court to deny Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence discovered during a search of his bedroom after Defendant’s mother opened his locked bedroom door while a law enforcement officer stood nearby, holding that the mother’s decision to open Defendant’s locked bedroom door was private conduct to which the Fourth Amendment’s protections were inapplicable. In the presence of a sheriff’s deputy but without the deputy’s request that she open the door or suggestion that he wanted to see inside the bedroom, Defendant’s mother opened Defendant’s locked bedroom door. The deputy saw firearms and bomb-making materials inside the room once the door was open. The district court denied Defendant’s motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant’s mother’s actions were insufficiently connected or related to governmental action to implicate the protections of the Fourth Amendment. View "Mooney v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that law enforcement officers cannot justify a warrantless search of a bedroom inside a home by relying on the consent of a third party when the third party did not have authority to consent and the officers have little to no information about that third party’s authority over the bedroom. At issue in this appeal was whether law enforcement officers cannot rely on the consent of a third party to search a room within a residence without making sufficient inquiries about the parties’ living arrangements within that residence before conducting a warrantless search. The Supreme Court answered in the negative, holding that the district court erred in denying part Defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the illegal entry in this case and that the error was not harmless. The Court further directed law enforcement to gather sufficient information about the living arrangements inside the home to establish an objectively reasonable belief that the third party has authority to consent to a search before proceeding with that search without a warrant. View "Lastine v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the district court’s denial of Appellant’s second postconviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus in a death penalty case, holding that an evidentiary hearing was required as to Appellant’s judicial bias claim. Appellant’s petition challenging his conviction for two first-degree murders and death sentences was both untimely and successive. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of the petition as procedurally barred, concluding that Appellant did not show good cause and prejudice to excuse the procedural bars to his petition. The United States Supreme Court vacated the Supreme Court’s opinion and remanded for further proceedings, concluding that the Court applied the wrong legal standard as to Appellant’s judicial bias claim. On reconsideration of the judicial bias claim, the Supreme Court held that an evidentiary hearing was required with respect to several issues related to the claim. The Court remanded for an evidentiary hearing on the judicial bias claim and affirmed the remainder of the district court’s order. View "Rippo v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that double jeopardy did not prohibit Defendant’s retrial under the circumstances of this case because Defendant impliedly consented to the district court’s declaration of a mistrial, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding manifest necessity to declare a mistrial. Defendant stood trial on charges of murder and battery with substantial bodily harm. The district court declared a mistrial after a juror conducted extrinsic legal research and shared that information with other jurors after a weekend recess in jury deliberations. The district court dismissed Defendant’s motion to dismiss the charges based on double jeopardy and set the matter for a new trial. Defendant petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus directing the district court to grant his motion to dismiss and bar his re-prosecution. The Supreme Court denied the petition on the merits, holding that a second prosecution was not barred by double jeopardy where Defendant did not object to the mistrial, Defendant agreed with the court’s analysis of juror misconduct, Defendant gave his implied consent to mistrial, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding manifest necessity to declare a mistrial. View "Granda-Ruiz v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that although parents in a termination of parental rights proceeding cannot be compelled to admit to abuse of their children, they can be required to engage in meaningful therapy designed to ensure the children’s safety if returned to the home. The district court terminated the parental rights of Appellants because their oldest child was abused while in their home, the younger children witnessed the abuse and were directed to lie about it, and, while in therapy, Appellants insisted that the child’s injuries were self-inflicted. Appellants appealed, arguing that their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination were violated because the termination of parental rights was based on their refusal to admit to the abuse. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court’s findings of parental fault did not violate Appellants’ Fifth Amendment rights because Appellants did not engage in meaningful therapy and did not demonstrate the insight and behavioral changes necessary to protect the children from future abuse; (2) the district court’s findings of parental fault were supported by substantial evidence; and (3) termination was in the children’s best interests. View "In re Parental Rights as to S.L." on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the Supreme Court should adopt a rule of admissibility that would limit the use of a probationer’s testimony at a revocation hearing in a subsequent criminal proceeding. The issue stemmed from the tension between the due process right to have an opportunity to be heard and present mitigating evidence at a revocation hearing and the right against self-incrimination as to criminal charges related to the alleged probation violation. The Supreme Court invoked its supervisory powers and adopted an admissibility rule in the interest of basic fairness and the administration of justice to limit the use of a probation’s testimony given at a probation revocation hearing. Accordingly, the Court reversed the district court’s revocation of Defendant’s probation and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Cooper v. State" on Justia Law

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A criminal defendant’s request to represent himself was properly denied as “untimely” when the request was made twenty-four hours prior to the scheduled trial date. Defendant was convicted of burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon, first degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, robbery with use of a deadly weapon, and coercion. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions but vacated his deadly weapon sentencing enhancements, holding (1) under Lyons v. State, 796 P.2d 210 (Nev. 1990), which is consistent with United States Supreme Court precedent, a defendant’s request to represent himself may be denied as untimely if granting it will delay trial; (2) the State produced sufficient evidence to sustain Defendant’s convictions for robbery and kidnapping even when both convictions stemmed from Defendant’s actions over the course of a single incident; and (3) there was insufficient evidence that Defendant’s “weapon” satisfied an applicable definition of deadly weapon. View "Guerrina v. State" on Justia Law

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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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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