Recently in Cases in the News Category

Pardons Board Agenda Posted

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The Pardons Board meets on Tuesday, April 27th.  The agenda is available here.

Nevada Supreme Court issues 1 opinion

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The Nevada Supreme Court has issued its first opinion of the year.  In Higgs v. State, the Court, sitting en banc, in an opinion authored by Justice Hardesty, affirms the conviction for first degree murder of Chaz Higgs.  The Court rejects Higgs' argument that expert testimony should be subject to the standard set forth by the US Supreme Court in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals and rejects the claim that the nevada Supreme Court's decision in Hallmark v. Eldridge adopted the standard set forth in Daubert inferentially.  The Court also rejected Higgs' claims concerning the district court's refusal to continue the trial, sufficiency of the evidence, jury instructions on spoliation of evidence, and cumulative error.


Justice Cherry and Justice Saitta authored separate opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part.  They agreed with the majority's decision to reject Daubert, but found that the district court abused its discretion in denying the motion to continue the trial.



This and That

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Good news and bad news: the Nevada Supreme Court has vacated the death penalty for Herbert Wesley, based upon an invalid aggravating circumstance, and has ordered a new penalty trial; but an execution date for the first week of February 2010 has been set for death row inmate Robert McConnell based upon his Washoe County conviction.

Note - the Sun article states that Nevada's last execution was in 1996.  This is not accurate.  Mack was executed in 2006.

The Nevada Supreme Court has approved a revised code of judicial conduct.  It does not appear that the revisions have been posted to the Nevada Supreme Court's website.

This and That

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The New York Times notes in an editorial, Prisons and Budgets, that the US has less than 5% of the world's population, but about 25% ot is prisoners.  The costs of such incarcerations are a huge issue for many states.

Adam Liptak reports on the decision by the American Law Institute to abandon efforts at creating a modern framework for the death penalty.  The ALI disavowed the structure it had created "in light of the current intractable institutional and structural obstacles to ensuring a minimally adequate system for administering capital punishment."

A case concerning prosecutorial conduct has been dismissed by the US Supreme Court as moot, after an Iowa county and two men freed after spending 26 years in prison for murder settled the case for $12 million.  Prosecutors had knowingly used false evidence to convict the two men.  The case was argued before the Court in November.   

Via Sentencing Law & Policy, The Department of Justice has established new guidance for federal prosecutors regarding criminal discovery.

This and That

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The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Daniel Bogden for Nevada's U.S. Attorney position.

Las Vegas Municipal Court George Assad has issued a letter of apology, pursuant to an order in June 2008 by the Nevada Supreme Court, to a woman who was detained until her boyfriend showed up in court to take of his unpaid traffic tickets.

The Ninth Circuit issued an opinion today in US v. Juvenile Male, in which it finds that part of the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act is unconstitutional as applied to former juvenile offenders.


This and That

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The Nevada Supreme will return another $2.5 million to the State General Fund.

Justice Saitta has been chosen for a fellowship as one of 40 emerging state leaders.

The Indigent Defense Commission will meet today from 10 to 2 at the Nevada Supreme Court chambers in Las Vegas and Carson City.

On Friday, the Nevada Supreme Court denied OJ Simpson's motion for bail pending appeal.

Chris Owens will now be the Assistant District Attorney for the Criminal Division.  Former ADA Christopher Lalli will rejoin the Major Violators Unit.

Scotusblog previews a Nevada case that will be heard by the United States Supreme Court this fall: McDaniel v. Brown.

In a couple of weeks there will be another shuffling of cases among some of the criminal judges in the 8th Judicial District.  Judges Bell and Silver will now handle criminal and civil cases.  Judge Mosley will be assigned fewer criminal cases and will now handle all misdemeanor appeals and foreclosure mediation appeals.  Some criminal cases will also be transferred from Judge Hardcastle.  Notices should be sent approximately one week prior to any court dates.

In the news

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via Sentencing Law and Policy, The Sentencing Project issued a new report yesterday: No Exit: The Expanding Use of Life Sentences in America,  Nevada is featured throughout the report, and not in a good way.  Among its other findings:

In five states--Alabama, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and New York--at least 1 in 6 people in prison are serving a life sentence.  In Nevada, 16.4 percent of the prison population is service a sentence of life or life without the possibility of parole -- that is 2,217 people.  450 people, or 3.3% of the prison population, are serving an LWOP sentence. 

Juveniles serve life sentences in nearly every state, but more than 50% of the national population is located in five states: California (2,623), Texas (422), Pennsylvania (345), Florida (338), and Nevada (322).  Given our relative population to these other states, this is shocking.  69 of these juvenile offenders are serving LWOP sentences.

Looking at overall life sentences, the report notes that in four states, more than 10% of the life population were juveniles at the time of their offense. These states are Nevada (14.5%), Nebraska (13.2%), Maryland (11.6%), and Arizona (10.4%).  Nevada leads the country in this shameful statistic.

Racial, ethnic and gender data are also provided.


In the news

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A prison guard at High Desert has been fired for bringing "non-intoxicant contraband" - a pillow, pillow case and air mattress - into the prison.

The prosecutors want a 3 percent cost of living increase, even though Public Defenders and other County employees are getting nothing or 1 percent, and plan to sue the County over its decision to amend a resolution that cuts the increase from 3 percent to 1 percent.  This should be interesting.

There are all kinds of questions at issue over sexual assault examinations in Washoe County.

Via Sentencing Law & Policy, a California appellate court has found a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for a juvenile, who was 14 years old at the time of his offense of kidnapping for ransom, to be unconstitutional.  The opinion is available here.

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