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Jones v. Eighth Judicial District Court of the State

Supreme Court of Nevada

July 3, 2014

DARRYL L. JONES, Petitioner,
v.
THE EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF CLARK; AND THE HONORABLE DOUG SMITH, DISTRICT JUDGE, Respondents, and THE STATE OF NEVADA, Real Party in Interest

Page 476

Original proper person petition for a writ of mandamus challenging a district court order labeling petitioner a vexatious litigant and restricting his access to the courts.

Petition granted.

Darryl L. Jones, Indian Springs, in Proper Person.

Catherine Cortez Masto, Attorney General, Carson City; Steven B. Wolfson, District Attorney, and Steven S. Owens, Chief Deputy District Attorney, Clark County, for Real Party in Interest.

BEFORE HARDESTY, DOUGLAS and CHERRY, JJ.

OPINION

Page 477

DOUGLAS, J.:

In considering this petition, we address whether the district court has the authority to restrict a criminal defendant's access to the courts in order to challenge a judgment of conviction and sentence or the computation of time served under a judgment of conviction and, if so, what approach courts should take when restricting that access.

Petitioner Darryl Jones filed a timely post-conviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging his judgment of conviction and sentence, his first such petition. Jones represented himself in the post-conviction proceeding. Based on motions filed by Jones, including a motion for the appointment of post-conviction counsel, the district court determined that Jones was a vexatious litigant and issued an order restricting Jones' ability to file further documents in the district court. Jones filed this original petition to challenge that order.

This court has held that a district court has authority to label indigent proper person civil litigants as vexatious litigants and to restrict their access to the courts. Jordan v. State ex rel. Dep't of Motor Vehicles & Public Safety, 121 Nev. 44, 59, 110 P.3d 30, 41-42 (2005), abrogated on other grounds by Buzz Stew, L.L.C. v. City of N. Las Vegas, 124 Nev. 224, 228 n.6, 181 P.3d 670, 672 n.6 (2008). It has not addressed restrictive orders that prohibit a litigant from challenging a judgment of conviction or the litigant's custody status pursuant to a judgment of conviction. We conclude that the district court may restrict a litigant from filing petitions and motions that challenge a judgment of conviction or the litigant's custody status pursuant to a judgment of conviction and that the guidelines set forth in Jordan adequately protect a litigant's rights while providing instruction for the district courts as to when a restrictive order is warranted and the proper scope of a restrictive order. A court imposing access restrictions on a vexatious litigant with respect to filings that involve post-conviction challenges to a judgment of conviction or computation of time served pursuant to a judgment of conviction must: (1) provide notice of and an opportunity to oppose the proposed restrictions; (2) create an adequate record that includes a list of the filings or other reasons that led it to conclude that a restrictive order is needed, including consideration of other less onerous sanctions to curb the repetitive or abusive activities; (3) make substantive findings as to the frivolous or harassing nature of the litigant's actions; and (4) narrowly tailor the restrictions to address the specific problem and set an appropriate standard by which to measure future filings. Under the facts presented in this case, we conclude that the district court acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it determined that Jones was a vexatious litigant and entered an order restricting his access to the court. We therefore grant the petition.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Jones was convicted, pursuant to a jury verdict, of five counts of burglary, one count of attempted theft, five counts of obtaining and using the personal identification information of another, four counts of theft, two counts of grand larceny auto, two counts of obtaining property under false pretenses, and one count of possession for sale of a document or personal identifying information to establish false status or identity. He was sentenced to a total of approximately 51 to 134 years in prison. On direct appeal, this court reversed ...


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