Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada

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An amended criminal complaint was filed charging Maria Escalante and Ramiro Funez (collectively, Escalante) each with one count of trespass in violation of Nev. Rev. Stat. 207.200(1)(a). Escalante moved to dismiss the charges, arguing that section 207.200(1)(a) is unconstitutionally vague. The Nevada Office of the Attorney General (AG) was not notified of the constitutional challenge to the statute. The justice court granted the motion to dismiss in part, determining that the “vex or annoy” intent requirement in the statute was void for vagueness. When it received notification of the justice court’s order, the AG filed a “motion to place on calendar,” arguing that the AG was entitled to notice of the constitutional challenge under Nev. Rev. Stat. 30.130. The justice court denied the AG’s motion, concluding that section 30.130 applies only to declaratory relief actions and has no applicability to criminal proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 30.130 does not entitle the AG to notice and opportunity to be heard in criminal cases; and (2) Escalante was not required to notify the AG of their constitutional challenge to section 207.200(1)(a). View "Office of the Attorney General v. Justice Court" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of one count of trafficking in a controlled substance. During a break in deliberations, two jurors individually conducted experiments testing the parties’ theories of the case. The next morning, the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict. Defendant filed a motion to declare a mistrial and order a new trial due to juror misconduct. The district court denied the motion, concluding that there was no reasonable probability that the verdict was affected by the two jurors’ independent experiments. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in denying Appellant’s motion for a new trial because (1) the juror misconduct in this case was prejudicial, and (2) the trial court’s failure to give a jury instruction prohibiting jurors from conducting independent investigations or experiments constituted a reversible error. Remanded. View "Bowman v. State" on Justia Law

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In Thomas v. Nevada Yellow Cab Corp., published in 2014, the Supreme Court held that the Minimum Wage Amendment to the Nevada Constitution, enacted in 2006, impliedly repealed Nev. Rev. Stat. 608.250(2)(e)’s exemption of taxicab drivers from minimum wage requirements. In two separate cases, taxicab drivers filed class actions against several taxicab companies seeking unpaid taxicab driver wages dating back to the effective date of the Amendment. The taxicab companies moved to dismiss the complaints, asserting that Thomas applied prospectively, not retroactively. Thereafter, the taxicab companies filed writ petitions arguing that Thomas should apply only prospectively. The Supreme Court consolidated the writ petitions for disposition denied the petitions, holding that section 608.250(2)(e) was repealed when the Amendment became effective rather than from the date Thomas was published. View "Nevada Yellow Cab Corp. v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Education Savings Account (ESA) program allows public funds to be transferred from the State Distributive School Account (DSA) into private education savings accounts maintained for the benefit of school-aged children to pay for non-public educational services and expenses. Two complaints were brought challenging the ESA program as violating several provisions of the Education Article in the Nevada Constitution. The district court dismissed one complaint after rejecting the constitutional claims. In the other case, the district court granted a preliminary injunction, concluding that one of the constitutional challenges had merit. The Supreme Court resolved the appeals together in this opinion and affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court orders in both cases, holding (1) the ESA program is not contrary to the legislature’s constitutional duty to provide for a uniform system of common schools and does not violate Article 11, Section 10 of the Nevada Constitution; but (2) the use of money appropriated for K-12 public education to instead fund education savings accounts undermines the constitutional mandates to fund public education. Remanded for the entry of a final declaratory judgment and a permanent injunction enjoining the use of any money appropriated for K-12 public education in the DSA to instead fund the education savings accounts. View "Schwartz v. Lopez" on Justia Law

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After a trial, Defendant was found guilty of vehicular manslaughter in violation of Nev. Rev. Stat. 484B.657(1). Defendant appealed, arguing that certain phrases in the statute rendered section 484B.657(1) void for vagueness. The district court upheld Defendant’s conviction without addressing Defendant’s arguments concerning the vagueness of the phrases at issue. Defendant subsequently filed a petition for a writ of certiorari challenging the constitutionality of section 484B.657(1). The Supreme Court granted the petition, holding (1) section 484B.657(1) is not unconstitutionally void for vagueness and does not violate due process; but (2) the district court erred in upholding the constitutionality of the statute without interpreting the challenged phrases. View "Cornella v. Justice Court" on Justia Law

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Appellants filed an inverse condemnation complaint against Washoe County alleging that the County approved subdivision maps, directed the flow of water, and accepted street dedications during the building process of two upstream developments that increased the flow of water to Whites Creek and caused flooding to Appellants’ property. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Washoe County, concluding that the County’s approval of subdivision maps and acceptance of dedications did not constitute substantial involvement sufficient to support a claim for inverse condemnation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether the County’s action constituted substantial involvement in the drainage system sufficient to support a claim for inverse condemnation. View "Fritz v. Washoe County" on Justia Law

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Father and Mother divorced in 2011. In 2013, the district court ordered Father to pay additional child support for failing to previously pay child support. In 2014, Mother filed a motion to modify custody and enforce the 2013 order. After a hearing, at which Father represented himself, the district court awarded Mother primary physical custody of the child. The district court then held Father in contempt of court for failing to pay child support. The court sentenced Father to a total of eighty days in jail and stayed the contempt sentence on the condition that Father “follow the Orders of the Court.” The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) a contempt order that does not contain a purge clause is criminal in nature, and because the district court’s contempt order did not contain a purge clause, the district court violated Appellant’s constitutional rights by imposing a criminal sentence without providing Appellant with counsel; and (2) the district court abused its discretion by basing its decision to modify custody on Appellant’s failure to comply with a court order and by failing to consider and set forth its findings as to the Nev. Rev. Stat. 125.480(4) factors for determining the child’s best interest. View "Lewis v. Lewis" on Justia Law

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The Nevada Constitution prohibits the Legislature from amending or repealing a voter-initiated statute for three years after it takes effect. Scenic Nevada, Inc. qualified an initiative for submission to general-election voters in 2000. The initiative passed, and the Initiative Ordinance, which related to the construction of new billboards, became effective. Within three years of the new law’s effective date, the City of Reno enacted two billboard-related ordinances, the Conforming Ordinance and the Banking Ordinance, which amended the Initiative Ordinance. In 2012, the City enacted the Digital Ordinance, which reenacted and amended the Conforming and Banking Ordinances. Scenic Nevada sued the City, seeking to invalidate the Digital Ordinance because it incorporated the Conforming and Banking Ordinances, which were enacted within the first three years of the voters’ 2000 Initiative Ordinance. The district court entered judgment for the City, concluding that the three-year legislative moratorium does not apply to municipal initiatives. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the three-year legislative moratorium applies to municipal initiatives; and (2) although the City enacted the Conforming and Banking Ordinances within three years of its passage, the subsequent reenactment of those ordinances after the three-year legislative moratorium cured the constitutional defect. View "Scenic Nevada, Inc. v. City of Reno" on Justia Law

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Appellant was charged with felony eluding a police officer and misdemeanor reckless driving based on the same incident. Appellant pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless driving and then moved to dismiss the felony eluding a police officer charge on the basis of double jeopardy. The district court denied the motion to dismiss, concluding that misdemeanor reckless driving did not constitute a lesser included offense of felony eluding. Appellant subsequently pleaded guilty to felony eluding. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the offense of reckless driving is a lesser included offense of felony eluding as charged in this case, and therefore, Appellant’s conviction for felony eluding a police officer violated double jeopardy. View "Kelley v. State" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of burglary while in possession of a firearm, conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery with the use of a deadly weapon, and murder with the use of a deadly weapon. Defendant appealed, arguing that the State’s warrantless access of historical cell site location data obtained from his cell phone service provider pursuant to the Stored Communications Act violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a defendant does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in historical cell site location information data because it is a part of the business records made, kept, and owned by cell phone providers, and therefore, a search warrant is not required to obtain such historical cell site location information; (2) certain out-of-court and in-court identifications did not violate Defendant’s constitutional right to due process of law; (3) prosecutorial conduct and statements during closing arguments did not violate Defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial or Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination; and (4) there was sufficient evidence to support the convictions. View "Taylor v. State" on Justia Law