Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated and reversed in part Defendant’s convictions of child abuse and neglect, twenty-nine counts of use of a child in the production of pornography, ten counts of possession of visual presentation depicting the sexual conduct of a child, and open or gross lewdness. The court held (1) the State properly charged Defendant with two counts of violating Nev. Rev. Stat. 200.710(2) for each video file that depicted two minors; (2) Defendant was improperly convicted under section 200.730 on a per-image basis without showing the mechanics of how Defendant recorded and saved the various video files and digital images of children on his laptop; (3) Nevada’s statutes barring the “sexual portrayal” of minors do not implicate protected speech and are not unconstitutionally vague; (4) there was insufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction under Nev. Rev. Stat. 201.210; and (5) Defendant’s asserted trial errors did not warrant reversal. View "Shue v. State" on Justia Law

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Nevada’s medical marijuana registry does not violate the Due Process, Equal Protection, or Self-Incrimination Clauses of the United States or Nevada Constitutions. Appellant in this case applied for and received a registry identification card. Thereafter, Appellant filed suit against the Nevada Legislature, the Governor, and the Department of Health and Human Services (collectively, Respondents) arguing that the medical marijuana registry and its associated fees violated his due process and equal protection rights and his right against self-incrimination. The district court granted summary judgment for Respondents. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Nevada’s medical marijuana registry does not impinge upon a fundamental right; (2) the registry is rationally related to the legitimate state interest of protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public; and (3) the registry does not violate a registrant’s right against self-incrimination. View "Doe v. State ex rel. Legislature of 77th Session" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s convictions for burglary, robbery, coercion, and other crimes and Appellant’s sentence as a habitual criminal. The court held (1) contrary to Appellant’s argument on appeal, the district court properly considered Appellant’s prior conviction from 1984 in sentencing Appellant as a habitual criminal because the conviction was not stale, and the prior conviction resulting from an offense Appellant committed as a minor could be used for habitual criminal sentencing; (2) Appellant’s sentence did not violate the Eighth Amendment; and (3) because there was no error established by Appellant on this appeal, there was none to cumulate. View "Mullner v. State" on Justia Law

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Where a defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge pursuant to a plea agreement and fails to comply with the terms of that agreement, he waives his right to be protected from prosecution on a greater charge. Petitioner was charged with felony battery constituting domestic violence. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Petitioner agreed to plead guilty in justice court to one count of battery constituting domestic violence, a misdemeanor, and in district court to one count of battery constituting substantial bodily harm, a felony. Petitioner subsequently pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor battery but refused to plead guilty in the district court. Consequently, the State filed an amended information reinstating the original felony battery constituting domestic violence charge. Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of prohibition alleging that since he had already been convicted of misdemeanor battery in the justice court, double jeopardy protections barred his prosecution for felony battery constituting domestic violence in the district court. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding that Petitioner waived his right to be free from multiple prosecutions when he voluntarily failed to comply with the terms of his plea agreement with the State. View "Sweat v. Eighth Judicial District Court" 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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South California Edison (Edison) was not due a refund of use tax paid to Nevada because it did not demonstrate the existence of substantially similar entities that gained an unfair tax advantage because of the unconstitutional tax, and Edison was not owed a tax credit in an amount equal to the transaction privilege tax (TPT) levied by Arizona because the TPT did not qualify as a sales tax paid by Edison within the meaning of Nev. Admin. Code 372.055. Edison filed a claim with the State Department of Taxation for a refund of the use tax it paid between 1998 and 2000. The Department and Nevada Tax Commission denied the requested refund. Edison then filed an independent action in the district court seeking a refund of the taxes it paid. The district court concluded that, while the negative implications of the dormant Commerce Clause rendered Nev. Rev. Stat. 372.270 (the use tax exemption) unconstitutional, Edison was not entitled to a refund because it did not have favored competitors that benefitted from the discriminatory taxation scheme. The Supreme Court affirmed for the reasons set forth above. View "Southern California Edison v. State Department of Taxation" 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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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