Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellant's civil rights complaint without prejudice on the grounds that Appellant failed personally to serve any of the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) parties with a copy of the summons and complaint within the service period, holding that the court was required to allow Appellant additional time to cure defects in service.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) Appellant alleged sufficient facts to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Respondent based on an alleged deliberate indifference to serious medical needs; and (2) Nev. R. Civ. P. 4.2(d)(6) gave Appellant additional time to complete service on the remaining respondents. Appellant, an inmate, filed this lawsuit against various officials and employees of NDOC, alleging a violation of 42 U.S.C. 1983 based on Respondents' alleged indifference to his serious medical needs. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Appellant properly pleaded a section 1983 claim against Respondent; and (2) Appellant was entitled to additional time under Rule 4.2(d)(6) to serve the state officials or employees. View "Harris v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Appellant's conviction of multiple child sexual assault and abuse counts, holding that the district court's decision denying Appellant's motion to substitute counsel violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel.In this twenty-two-count criminal matter Appellant retained Mitchell Posin as defense counsel. On the eve of trial, Appellant filed a motion to substitute counsel, alleging that Posin failed adequately to prepare the defense. The district court denied the motion, and a jury convicted Appellant of most of the counts. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court applied the wrong test in deciding Appellant's motion to substitute counsel because Posin was retained, not appointed; and (2) under the appropriate test, the district court abused its discretion by denying the motion to substitute counsel. View "Brass v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's postconviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that counsel's overt interjection of racial stereotypes into Appellant's criminal trial constituted ineffective assistance of counsel.After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of attempted murder with the use of a deadly weapon, battery with the use of a deadly weapon, and battery with the use of a deadly weapon resulting in substantial bodily harm. In his postconviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Defendant claimed that counsel was ineffective for introducing racial issues into the trial. The district court denied the petition. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) counsel's statements impermissibly tainted the jury pool by introducing racial invective into the proceedings; and (2) counsel's performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness and prejudiced the defense. View "Dean v. Narvaiza" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing Appellant's third postconviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the petition.Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder with the use of a deadly robbery and other crimes. After a penalty phase retrial, the jury returned a death sentence. Appellant later filed a third postconviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the petition at issue on appeal. The district court dismissed the petition as procedurally barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant could not rely on the alleged ineffective assistance of first postconviction counsel as good cause and prejudice to raise grounds for relief from the guilt phase of his trial; (2) Defendant's ineffective assistance claims of second postconviction counsel lacked merit; and (3) Defendant failed to show that the failure to consider his claims would result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice sufficient to excuse the procedural bars to the petition. View "Chappell v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's conviction of sex trafficking of a child under eighteen years of age, first-degree kidnapping, living from the earnings of a prostitute, and child abuse, neglect, or endangerment, holding that the trial court's Faretta canvass was in appropriate in this case.Defendant, who represented himself at trial, was found guilty of sex trafficking of a child under eighteen years of age, first-degree kidnapping, living from the earnings of a prostitute, and child abuse, neglect, or endangerment. The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's conviction on the basis that the waiver of his right to counsel was invalid, holding (1) the trial court's determination that Defendant validly waived his right to counsel was unreasonable in light of the inadequate inquiry into Defendant's understanding of the sentences he faced if convicted; and (2) the trial court should refrain from disparaging Defendant's choice to waive counsel. View "Miles v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of first-degree murder and related charges, holding that there was no reversible error in jury selection or closing arguments.During his trial, Defendant stipulated to a sentence of life without the possibility of parole if he was found guilty and to waive his right to appeal issues "stemming from the guilt phase of the trial." The jury found Defendant guilty, and the court sentenced Defendant to life without the possibility of parole. On appeal, Defendant raised errors relating to the denial of his pretrial motion to suppress evidence, jury selection, closing arguments, jury deliberations, and sentencing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant did not waive any error that occurred during closing arguments, sentencing or jury selection; and (2) Defendant waived his other alleged errors. View "Burns v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellant's 42 U.S.C. 1983 civil rights claims and state law tort claims, holding that the district court erred by requiring Appellant to administratively exhaust all potential remedies.Appellant brought this complaint alleging that Georgina Stuart, who was employed by the Clark County Department of Family Services (DFS), and two police officers forced him to sign a temporary guardianship over his two minor children to the children's maternal aunt. DFS subsequently made a findings of maltreatment against Appellant, which he administratively appealed. The district court dismissed Appellant's request for punitive damages as not available and dismissed Appellant's section 1983 and state law tort claims for failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Appellant was not required to administratively exhaust all potential remedies in his DFS case before bringing his section 1983 and tort claims; and (2) the district court erred by finding that Appellant's section 1983 claim was solely a procedural due process claim subject to the exhaustion doctrine. View "Eggleston v. Stuart" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellant's complaint alleging discrimination based on age and sex, holding that Appellant's complaint was untimely filed.Following Respondent's termination of Appellant, Appellant sent a letter of inquiry to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and filed a charge of discrimination. After the limitation period for Appellant's potential claims against Respondent expired the Legislature amended Nev. Rev. Stat. 613.430, providing employees an additional ninety days to file a claim after receiving a letter giving them the right to sue. Appellant subsequently filed this complaint, alleging discrimination. The district court granted Respondent's motion to dismiss, finding that Appellant's claims expired under the former version of Nev. Rev. Stat. 613.430 and that the Legislature's amendments to that statute did not revive the claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly determined that the amendment did not revive Appellant's untimely claims; and (2) Appellant failed to establish the requirements for equitable tolling. View "Salloum v. Boyd Gaming Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence recovered during a warrantless inventory search of his vehicle, holding that the plain-view exception to the warrant requirement of the United States and Nevada Constitutions applied in this case.Following a lawful stop and arrest of Defendant, a police officer performed a warrantless inventory search of Defendant's vehicle that produced no formal inventory. The officer, however, observed contraband during the search, leading to criminal charged being filed against Defendant. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, alleging that the evidence recovered from the vehicle was the product and fruit of an illegal search. The district court denied the motion, concluding that the evidence was validly discovered under the plain-view exception to the warrant requirement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the plain-view exception to the warrant requirement applied because the officer was legally present in the vehicle at the time he observed the contraband. View "Jim v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea, denying Defendant's subsequent motion to dismiss the charges against him, and entering a judgment of conviction based on Defendant's guilty plea, holding that the district court erred in denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea.Defendant entered into a guilty plea agreement based on charges of robbery and ownership or possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and then suffered a mental breakdown. Defendant sought to withdraw his guilty plea when he regained competency, alleging a violation of his right to a speedy trial and that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. The district court denied Defendant's motions and convicted him. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment below, holding that withdrawal was just and fair, and therefore, the district court erred in denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea. View "Sunseri v. State" on Justia Law