Suspect PSI, Preliminary Hearing Power, and Definition of Possession...

Leron Blankenship v. State of Nevada (published opinion reversing and remanding for new sentencing)

Defense attorney argued at sentencing that the Division of P&P scoring calculation was based upon suspect and incorrect information (specifically not taking into account Mr. Blakenship was unemployable due to mental health disability).  He was penalized 6 points for being "unemployable" which put him in the borderline category and the recommendation was for prison.  With the 6 points, he would have been recommended for probation.

"The error must be such that it taints the PSI sentencing recommendation considered by the district courts."  The Court found that this error tainted the overall recommendation and sent it back for a new sentencing. 

** Some great explanation of how the Division scores and categorizes (pg.7-8)

Anthony Castaneda v. State of Nevada (published opinion overturning 14 out of 15 convictions for possession of child pornography)

Mr. Castaneda was charged with 15 counts of knowingly possessing child pornography.  He was convicted at jury trial.  On appeal, Mr. Castaneda argued that the State only proved a singular act of digital possession as the images were all seized on the same day.  The State argued that the word "any" in NRS 200.730 makes it a crime to possess every single photograph depicting child pornography "per-image based."  The Court found the State's argument flawed "this does not mean that each additional image possessed necessarily gives rise to a separate prosecutable offense." 

The Court ultimately overturned 14 of the convictions because it found the State failed to prove individual distinct crimes of possession as no evidence distinct downloads or in different locations.

Quinzale Mason v. State of Nevada (published opinion affirming conviction but remanding with instruction for corrected judgment)

Mr. Mason was found guilty at jury trial for numerous offenses attributed to firing a gun outside an apartment building, which missed the intended target and ricocheted, injuring a girl nearby.  On appeal, Mr. Mason argued that the district court erred at sentencing by failing to pronounce the aggregate minimum and maximum terms of imprisonment as required by NRS 176.035(1).

The Court agreed that the district court failed to do so and remanded for a corrected judgment.

Lecroy Grace v. 8th Judicial District Court (petition for writ of mandamus granted challenging a district court order reversing a justice court's order of suppression)

Mr. Grace was arrested an alleged probation violation.  During search incident arrest, an officer observed a baggie containing a white substance around Mr. Grace's foot.  Mr. Grace was charged with one count possession of a controlled substance.  The matter went to preliminary hearing and at the hearing, Defense orally moved to suppress the baggie of cocaine arguing no lawful arrest because the State filed to introduce evidence of Mr. Grace's probation violation, the claimed original reason for the arrest.

The State argued that the justice court lacked the authority to hear and rule on suppression issues.  The justice court ruled it did have authority and granted suppression.  The State appealed to the district court which overturned the suppression stating that the justice court did not have authority to decide suppression issues.  Mr. Grace filed this writ of mandamus asking for an order from the NV Supreme Court vacating the district court's order.

The Court found that justice courts do have the power to make determinations about the legality of proffered evidence at a preliminary hearing.  "We conclude that the justice courts have the power to suppress illegally obtained evidence because:

  1. NRS 47.020 and NRS 48.025 expressly authorize justice courts to do so;
  2. NRS 171.206 and Sargent show that justice courts have limited inherent authority to do so; and
  3. NRS 189.120 (which allows State to appeal a suppression issue at preliminary hearing), A.B. 65 (2007), and A.B. 193 (2015) show that the Legislature envisions justice courts as having that power."