Indigent defense, caseload limits are focus of hearing

As Clark and Washoe counties explore the need for caseload limits for public defenders, Nevada officials and national groups are calling on the Legislature to fund indigent defense services across the state.

The Nevada Supreme Court, which on Friday held its fourth and possibly final public hearing on indigent defense, will help determine if these things happen.

"We understand all the issues and how they affect counties," Chief Justice Mark Gibbons said at the hearing. "We’ll take this all into consideration."

The more the Supreme Court discusses the findings of an indigent defense commission formed by the court last year, the more related issues emerge.

Over the past year, one of the most contentious debates has centered on whether large caseloads of public defenders in Nevada’s urban counties have led to inadequate representation of indigent defendants.

Public defenders in Clark and Washoe counties say they can’t aggressively defend clients because of crushing caseloads. But county officials, wary of the cost of increasing the size of these offices, question those claims.

To settle the dispute, both counties have contracted with the Massachusetts-based Spangenberg Group, a legal research organization, to conduct caseload studies that are set to be completed early next year.

The needs of Nevada’s rural counties also got attention at Friday’s hearing, which took place via teleconference in Carson City and Las Vegas.

The Nevada Association of Counties has filed a bill draft request with the Nevada Legislature asking that the state fully fund indigent defense, at least in rural areas. Currently, the state pays a small fraction of indigent defense costs in rural counties.

Citing a draft report of an indigent defense subcommittee that examined rural issues, Seventh Judicial District Court Judge Dan Papez said state help is overdue.

"It makes a powerful and persuasive argument that Gideon v. Wainwright requires the state, not counties, to fund indigent defense," he said at Friday’s hearing. "That’s something the state needs to consider."

Gideon v. Wainwright is the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed legal counsel to criminal defendants who can’t afford to hire lawyers.

Papez’s view has gotten strong backing from local officials and national groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.

"We are deeply concerned that Nevada’s current statutory scheme, as implemented, fails to meet the state’s constitutional obligations," the groups wrote in a letter to the justices this week.

Jeffrey Fontaine, executive director of the Nevada Association of Counties, echoed the belief that indigent defense is a state responsibility. That is the reason for his organization’s bill draft request.

"We further agree that Nevada’s counties have faced challenges in providing indigent defense services at constitutionally mandated levels," Fontaine wrote in a letter to the court.

Also at Friday’s hearing, the court further discussed proposed performance standards for public defenders and private attorneys appointed to represent indigent defendants.

Clark and Washoe counties asked that implementation of those standards be delayed until May 2009.

The Supreme Court expects to issue an order on performance standards later this month, Gibbons said.

Contact reporter Alan Maimon at amaimon @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0404.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Humane Society investigates Las Vegas Petland store
Video from an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States at a Petland story at 8800 W. Charleston Blvd.in Las Vegas. (Humane Society of the United States)
Melvin Dummar dead at 74
Melvin Dummar has died at 74. Dummar was famous for claiming to have saved Howard Hughes in a Nevada desert in 1967. Dummar claimed to have been left $156 million in Hughes’ will. The will mysteriously appeared after Hughes’ death in 1976. It was dismissed as a fake two years later. Dummar never saw a dime of the billionaire's fortune. Dummar died Saturday in Nye County.
Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
Las Vegans Celebrate Big Snowfall
Las Vegans celebrate big snowfall at Lee Canyon.
Exploring old mines for denim jeans and other vintage items
Caden Gould of Genoa, Nev. talks about his experiences looking for vintage denim jeans and other items in old mines and other places areas across Nevada and the west.
Officers share photo of dead gunman after Las Vegas shooting
A little over an hour after SWAT officers entered Stephen Paddock's suite at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas police officers far from the scene were already sharing cell phone photos of the dead Oct. 1 gunman.
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece. (@FlightAlerts_)
Park Service plans ahead for lower lake levels
National Park Service releases new plans to maintain access to the water as Lake Mead continues to shrink.
Women claim abuse at Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility
Current and ex-inmates, including Merry West, are suing Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Facility, claiming abuse and inadequate medical care. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Butte County Sheriff's Office Body Cam Footage
Bodycam video from Butte County (Calif.) Sheriff's Office Deputy Aaron Parmley, who was in Paradise November 8 helping with evacuations. (Butte County Sheriff's Office)
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 106
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 160, near Mt. Potosi Road, in Clark County as part of a $59 million, 6-mile-long highway widening project that began this summer. (Nevada Department of Transportation)
Car crashes into Papa Murphy's Pizza shop
A driver crashed a car into a western Las Vegas Valley pizza shop on Tuesday morning, police said. (Joe Stanhibel/Special to Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Low-lake-level pumping station nears completion
Barnard Construction and the Southern Nevada Water Authority give one last tour before the new low-lake-level pumping station is activated.
Trailer: Valley of Fires
Sultan’s Playroom from Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada
Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada’s Scott Rosenzweig talks about granting Sultan Bouras Souissi’s wish, and what went into building it. (John Hornberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like