Published Opinions - December 31, 2015

Barber v. State of Nevada (conviction reversed for insufficient evidence of burglary)

  •  Cold case hit out of Clark County.  Home burglary where latent palm print on outside of window which was determined to be point of entry matched Mr. Barber.  Defendant was 17 at the time of the alleged burglary, but was arrested and charged when he had already turned 18.
  • Procedural issue involving juvenile jurisdiction and NRS 62D.310(3) decision that juvenile court maintains jurisdiction over a 'juvenile' even after the expiration of the 1 year period.
  • Insufficient evidence at trial to support burglary because the print was outside of the structure and to support burglary there must be evidence of entry.

State of Nevada v. Boston (vacated district court order and remanded for further proceedings)

  • Defendant, age 16, was found guilty of kidnapping 1st degree, multiple counts of sexual assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, lewdness with a minor, and a number of other charges.  He was sentenced to 14 consecutive life with the possibility of parole sentences and an additional 92 years.  Defendant would have to serve 100 years before he would be considered for parole.
  • U.S. Supreme Court Graham (2010) applies therefore it is unconstitutional and cruel and unusual punishment when an aggregate sentence imposed against a juvenile offender convicted of more than one non-homicide offense is the equivalent of a life-without-parole sentence.
  • Assembly Bill 267 remedied Defendant's claim as it added a new subsection of NRS Chapter 213 which makes prisoners eligible for parole after 15 years if their sentences were for non-homicide crimes committed when they were juveniles.

Gonzalez v. State of Nevada (reversed conviction and remanded for new trial)

  • Gang related shooting where defendant argued he shot in defense of others.  Jury found defendant guilty of 1st degree murder with a deadly weapon and gang enhancement.  During trial, the judge refused to provide answers to two juror questions regarding conspiracy theory and refused to bifurcate the guilt and gang-enhancement portion of the trial. 
  • "In situations where a jury's question during deliberations suggests confusion or lack of understanding of a significant element of the applicable law, the judge has a duty to give additional instructions on the law to adequately clarify the jury's doubt or confusion."
  • "To provide the defendant with a fair trial, the guilt phase of trial must be bifurcated from gang-enhancement phase."
  • Court also found that a jury instruction that intertwined self-defense and defense of others was unduly confusing to jury.
  • Judge should have given a cautionary jury instruction on accomplice-distrust as the state's witness' testimony was uncorroborated that the killing was a premeditated plan versus a spontaneous clash between rival bikers.