Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Supreme Court accepted two questions of law certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals, answering (1) a hyperlink to source material about a judicial proceeding may suffice as a report within the common law fair report privilege; and (2) Delucchi v. Singer, 396 P.3d 826, 830 (Nev. 2017), explains that application of Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statute, prior to the most recent amendments in 2013, is not limited to communication addressed to a government agency but includes speech “aimed at procuring any governmental or electoral action.” Plaintiff in this case filed a defamation action against Respondents, who posted an online petition to pressure presidential candidate Mitt Romney to reject Appellant’s campaign contributions, alleging that the petition was false and defamatory. The federal district court concluded that Nevada law governed the controversy and dismissed Appellant’s complaint, ruling that the state’s anti-SLAPP statutes applied. On appeal, the court of appeals certified two questions of law to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered the questions and held (1) the fair report privilege immunizes Respondents from civil liability; and (2) communications with either the government or the public that are intended to influence an electoral result potentially fall under Nev. Rev. Stat. 41.637(1). View "Adelson v. Harris" on Justia Law

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Pursuant to the protections of Nev. Const. art. I, 8, when a defendant requests a mistrial, jeopardy will also attach when a prosecutor intentionally proceeds in a course of egregious and improper conduct that causes the defendant prejudice that cannot be cured by means short of a mistrial. Petitioner was granted a mistrial on the basis for the late disclosure of certain documents. Petitioner later filed a renewed motion to dismiss pursuant to the Double Jeopardy Clause. The district court denied the motion, finding that the State had not intentionally withheld the documents from Petitioner. Petitioner then filed this original petition for extraordinary relief. The Supreme Court granted the petition, holding (1) the prosecutor intentionally and improperly withheld exculpatory documents, which constituted egregious conduct causing prejudice to defendant that could not be cured by means short of a mistrial; and (2) therefore, double jeopardy barred reprosecution of Petitioner on all counts. View "Thomas v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s dismissal of the claims of Appellant, a Nevada inmate who follows the Thelemic faith. After the State denied his request for a religious diet, Appellant filed suit under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In dismissing Appellant’s claims, the district court concluded as a matter of law that a religious diet is not central to the Thelemic faith. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding (1) the district court erroneously used the centrality test rather than the sincerely held belief test in its analysis of Paliotta’s Free Exercise and RLUIPA claims; and (2) Appellant made a prima facie showing that his sincere religious beliefs may be entitled to protection under the Free Exercise Clause and RLUIPA. View "Paliotta v. State Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The district court did not violate Appellant’s due process or equal protection rights when the Storey County Liquor Board denied Appellant’s applications for liquor licenses. Appellant filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the district court, requesting that the court compel Respondents to approve the applications. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Storey County Code 5.12.010(A), which requires an applicant for a liquor license to provide the board with proof of financial standing “to warrant an expected satisfactory and profitable business operation” is not unconstitutionally vague; and (2) the Liquor Board did not violate Appellant’s due process or equal protection rights in denying his liquor license applications. View "Malfitano v. County of Storey" on Justia Law

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Under the circumstances of this case, where the evidence indicated both juror misconduct during voir dire and resulting prejudice, the district court abused its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of two counts of lewdness with a minor. Defendant filed a motion for new trial on the basis of juror misconduct. The district court denied the motion, concluding that Defendant had failed to demonstrate prejudice arising from the alleged misconduct of the juror at issue. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the evidence indicated that the juror failed honestly to answer a material question during voir dire, and truthful disclosure could have provided a valid basis for a challenge for cause; and (2) therefore, the district court erred in denying Appellant’s motion for a new trial on the basis of juror misconduct. View "Brioady v. State" on Justia Law

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Based on the plain language of Nev. Rev. Stat. 612.530(1), the requirement that all relevant parties be named as defendants must be completed as timely as the rest of the petition. The Board of Review and the Administrator of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, Employment Security Division (ESD) awarded unemployment compensation benefits to Jessica Gerry, a former employee of McDonald’s of Keystone. McDonald’s filed a petition for judicial review of the Board’s decision. The ESD moved to dismiss the petition for judicial review on the ground that the caption failed to identify Gerry as a defendant, rendering the petition defective under Nev. Rev. Stat. 612.530(1). The district court denied the ESD’s motion to dismiss and granted McDonald’s motion to amend, concluding that the naming of all relevant parties as defendants was not a jurisdictional requirement. The Supreme Court granted the ESD’s petition for extraordinary relief, holding that McDonald’s failure to follow the statutory requirements of section 612.530(1) deprived the district court of jurisdiction to hear its petition for judicial review. View "Board of Review v. Second Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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Appellant filed a class action lawsuit against Respondent, a taxi company, seeking back pay and equitable relief under the Minimum Wage Amendment of the Nevada Constitution (MWA). The district court denied class certification based on an agreement that resolved an earlier-filed grievance for wage adjustments under the MWA brought by the union that represented Respondent’s cab drivers. The district court subsequently granted Respondent’s motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion in holding that the settlement of the union’s grievance against Henderson Taxi made class certification inappropriate; and (2) properly granted summary judgment to Respondent. View "Sargeant v. Henderson Taxi" 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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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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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