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Barral v. State

Supreme Court of Nevada

July 23, 2015

DUSTIN JAMES BARRAL, Appellant,
v.
THE STATE OF NEVADA, Respondent

Appeal from a judgment of conviction, pursuant to jury verdict, of two counts of sexual assault with a minor under 14 years of age. Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County; Douglas Smith, Judge.

Las Vegas Defense Group, LLC, and Michael L. Becker and Michael V. Castillo, Las Vegas, for Appellant.

Adam Paul Laxalt, Attorney General, Carson City; Steven B. Wolfson, District Attorney, Steven S. Owens, Chief Deputy District Attorney, and Michelle Y. Jobe, Deputy District Attorney, Clark County, for Respondent.

BEFORE PARRAGUIRRE, DOUGLAS and CHERRY, JJ.

OPINION

CHERRY, J.:

In this opinion, we address whether a district court commits structural error when it fails to administer an oath to the jury panel, pursuant to NRS 16.030(5), prior to commencing voir dire. We hold that it does.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Dustin Barral was charged with sexually assaulting a child. His case proceeded to a jury trial. At the beginning of voir dire, both the prosecution and defense explained to the potential jurors the importance of answering their questions honestly. After questioning the first potential juror, the following bench conference took place:

MR. BECKER [for Barral]: My recollection may not be correct, but I think it's possible that the panel was not sworn in.
THE COURT: They aren't.
MR. BECKER: Okay.
THE COURT: I don't swear them in until the end.
MR. BECKER: Okay. In other words, admonish [the jury] that they are to give truthful ...

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