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Nevada State Board of Architecture v. The Eighth Judicial District Court of State of Nevada

Supreme Court of Nevada

October 3, 2019

NEVADA STATE BOARD OF ARCHITECTURE, INTERIOR DESIGN AND RESIDENTIAL DESIGN, Petitioner,
v.
THE EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF CLARK; AND THE HONORABLE KATHLEEN E. DELANEY, DISTRICT JUDGE, Respondents, and DENNIS E. RUSK, Real Party in Interest.

          Original petition for a writ of prohibition challenging a district court order denying a motion to dismiss a petition for judicial review in a professional licensing matter.

         Petition granted.

          Louis A. Ling, Reno, for Petitioner.

          Nersesian & Sankiewicz and Robert A. Nersesian, Las Vegas, for Real Party in Interest.

          BEFORE HARDESTY, STIGLICH and SILVER, JJ.

          OPINION

          STIGLICH, J.

         We grant this petition for a writ of prohibition to clarify that premature petitions for judicial review do not vest subject matter jurisdiction in the district court. A petition for judicial review may not precede the administrative agency decision it contests, and the agency decision must satisfy NRS 233B.125 in order to constitute a decision subject to judicial review. The underlying petition for judicial review was filed after the administrative agency stated its disposition on the record, but that utterance did not include findings of fact and conclusions of law with a concise and explicit statement of the underlying facts in support. The disposition that was stated on the record accordingly did not constitute a final decision for purposes of commencing the period set forth in NRS 233B.130(2Xd) in which an aggrieved party may seek judicial review. Consequently, because the underlying petition for judicial review was filed before the administrative agency's written order, which did constitute a final decision, the petition failed to comply with the relevant statutory requirements. Accordingly, the petition did not vest jurisdiction in the district court. Dismissal is an appropriate remedy where the district court lacks jurisdiction. Because the district court incorrectly concluded that the agency's oral decision as stated on the record was subject to challenge by judicial review when it denied petitioner's motion to dismiss, we grant the petition for a writ of prohibition and direct the district court to grant petitioner's motion to dismiss.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Real party in interest Dennis Rusk was a licensed architect in Nevada. In 2011, the Nevada State Board of Architecture, Interior Design and Residential Design (Board) held a hearing on two complaints that alleged that Rusk's designs failed to include required fire-and-life-safety design elements. The Board concluded that Rusk violated Nevada law and ordered that Rusk pay a fine, pay the Board's fees and costs, complete certain courses while his registration as an architect was placed on probation, and submit to related conditions on these mandates. Rusk petitioned the district court for judicial review of the Board's decision, and the district court affirmed. Rusk appealed that affirmance to this court, and we dismissed the appeal for failure to timely file an opening brief. Rusk v. Nev. State Bd. of Architecture, Interior Design & Residential Design, Docket No. 61844 (Order Dismissing Appeal, July 30, 2013).

         In 2016, Rusk moved to vacate the Board's disciplinary order in light of newly discovered evidence, and the Board denied Rusk's motion. The district court granted Rusk's subsequent petition for judicial review and remanded to the Board with a mandate to consider whether to vacate its 2011 disciplinary order in light of newly discovered evidence. On October 25, 2017, the Board held a hearing pursuant to the district court's mandate and unanimously passed an oral motion to deny Rusk relief and uphold the original disciplinary order. The Board stated its disposition on the record without discussing specific findings of fact or conclusions of law supporting its decision and announced that a written order would be forthcoming. On November 9, 2017, before the Board filed its written order, Rusk petitioned for judicial review of the Board's oral October 25 decision. On December 1, 2017, the Board issued its written order. On January 9, 2018, and without Rusk having supplemented his petition after the Board's December 1 order, the Board moved to dismiss Rusk's petition as jurisdictionally infirm. The district court denied the Board's motion, concluding that the Board's oral decision at the October 25 hearing was a sufficient basis for Rusk's petition for judicial review. The Board petitioned this court for a writ of prohibition to challenge the district court's order denying its motion to dismiss.

         DISCUSSION

         The Board petitions for a writ of prohibition, arguing that NRS 233B.l3O(2)(d) sets forth a mandatory jurisdictional requirement and that the district court did not have jurisdiction to consider Rusk's petition for judicial review because he did not file it in the 30-day period after the Board's written decision. Whether a district court may exercise jurisdiction over a premature petition for judicial review is a matter of first impression.

         A writ of prohibition may issue when a district court acts without or in excess of its jurisdiction and the petitioner lacks a plain, speedy, and adequate remedy at law. NRS 34.320; NRS 34.330; Smith v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 107 Nev. 674, 677, 818 P.2d 849, 851 (1991). Whether a writ of prohibition will issue is within this court's sole discretion. Smith, 107 Nev. at 677, 818 P.2d at 851. Petitioners bear the burden of showing that this court's extraordinary intervention is warranted. Club Vista Fin. Servs., LLC v. Eighth Judicial Dist Court, 128 Nev. 224, 228, 276 P.3d 246, 249 (2012). This case presents a jurisdictional issue of first impression and accordingly warrants consideration on the merits. See Bd. of Review, Nev. Dep't of Emp't v. Second Judicial Dist. Court, 133 Nev. 253, 255, 396 P.3d 795, 797 (2017).

         An administrative agency's order must contain detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law to constitute a final ...


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