Supreme Court orders new rules for prison psychiatric hearings

The Nevada Supreme Court has ordered a district judge to reconsider whether a convicted sex offender was fairly treated in his psychological review panel hearing.

Robert Stockmeier appealed after his denial of parole eligibility because he received no notice the psychiatric panel would hear comment during closed session from the victim and victim's family about alleged abuses for which Stockmeier was never convicted.

He charged that violated, at minimum, Nevada's open-meeting law and his right to be aware of what would be dealt with during the hearing.

Prisoners serving time for sex offenses must receive a favorable vote from the psychiatric panel to be eligible for parole.

But after the closed-door hearing, panel members not only denied Stockmeier, they made reference to the unsubstantiated allegations of additional sex offenses as one of their reasons.

A district court rejected his claims saying he had no rights under the open-meeting law to proper notification, and that the panel could close its meeting because it was a judicial hearing.

The high court disagreed, saying the open-meeting law doesn't exclude felons and, therefore, Stockmeier has the right to sue under its provisions.

The opinion by Chief Justice Bob Rose and justices Michael Douglas and Ron Parraguirre ruled the psychiatric panel should be required to give him proper notice and, because the session was about Stockmeier, should give him adequate notice to ensure fairness.

They made a special note that the notice Stockmeier received didn't advise him that allegations of misconduct beyond the crime he was convicted of would be considered in deciding his case.

The court ordered the case back to district court in Pershing County.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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