The Nevada Supreme Court has overturned a conviction they say was based largely on a questionable confession police extracted from a 17-year-old robbery suspect.
Jack Bolden was convicted of conspiracy, robbery and the use of a deadly weapon, getting sentences totaling more than a dozen years in prison.
But the Supreme Court overturned it on grounds that there are serious questions about how voluntary the confession to Las Vegas Metro Police actually was, and the jury should have been instructed to consider that issue.
In Nevada, the court has previously held that the jury must decide whether a confession is voluntary before considering it in a case and that the trial judge's failure to tell jurors to do so is a reversible error in this case.
"The only evidence against appellant was his presence in the area of the robbery and that he matched the general description of one of the persons involved - a young black man," said the opinion.
It says he was not wearing the same clothing as the robber, the victim couldn't positively identify him and policy couldn't identify him as the man they chased.
It says in this case, police lied in saying they had an eyewitness to the robbery and promised to recommend favorable treatment from the district attorney if he cooperated. Then, according to the court record, police told him at age 17, there was a possibility he could be certified as an adult but that, if he cooperated, they would not seek that certification.
"The statement implied the police had power to control certification and implied a threat of harsher punishment if the appellant did not confess," the opinion says.
The opinion says that, in fact, "the juvenile court does not have jurisdiction under the fact of this case and treatment as a juvenile delinquent was not an option."
The high court panel consisting of Deborah Agosti, Cliff Young and Myron Leavitt reversed the conviction, ordering a new trial for Bolden.