Supreme Court rejects three late appeals

Geoff Dornan

The Nevada Supreme Court says inmates can't win appeals just by waiting until prosecutors can't prove their claims wrong.

The court rejected appeals in three cases last week, including one in which inmate Miguel Angel Ramirez waited until he finished his prison term to try to toss out his conviction.

Ramirez finished eight years in prison for burglary and battery in November 1994. He waited until May 1998 to file, demanding he be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea on grounds he wasn't properly advised of all his rights and the consequences of that plea.

The district court rejected the motion as unreasonable and far too late, and the high court agreed.

"The delay in this case unduly works to Ramirez's advantage as it appears there is no longer a transcript of the proceedings wherein the district court accepted Ramirez's guilty plea," according to the Supreme Court decision.

It points out that the judge who accepted the plea 14 years ago is dead and that memories have faded.

The court made a similar ruling in an appeal by Stephen Michael LeBlond, who waited until November 1997 to challenge his 1976 murder conviction. Prosecutors argued the delay "created a rebuttable presumption of prejudice to the state."

The Supreme Court agreed with the district court judge in Las Vegas that LeBlond must provide a good cause for the delay and a good cause to overcome that presumption of prejudice after waiting 21 years to appeal. They said LeBlond failed to provide any such reason and upheld his life sentence.

In the third case, Jesus Rios waited waited nearly six years after his July 1992 murder conviction to argue he wasn't fully aware of his rights because he is a Colombian native who relies on other inmates to interpret English for him.

But the Supreme Court agreed with the Las Vegas judge that he failed to back up his claims with a cause for his delay in filing the appeal.

All three decisions were signed by Justices Cliff Young, Deborah Agosti and Myron Leavitt.


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