Domestic violence group raises fears over Nevada Supreme Court ruling
The Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence says last week’s Supreme Court ruling that domestic violence cases qualify for a jury trial could make it harder for victims to be protected.
In a unanimous opinion, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that changes in state law approved by the 2015 Legislature increased penalties enough that domestic violence now qualifies as a serious offense instead of a petty offense. That means a defendant could demand a jury trial that they couldn’t request if the crime was still classified as a petty offense.
The coalition statement says Nevada is one of the top 10 states in its rate of homicides resulting from domestic battery.
“So the Legislature’s action to prevent them from possessing guns is essential,” according to Sue Meuschke, executive director of the coalition.
She said Nevada gives justice and municipal courts jurisdiction over misdemeanors but those courts aren’t structured or funded to handle jury trials. District courts have no jurisdiction over those cases, she said.
“At the same time, Nevada is one of only a handful of states that does not provide for jury trials in misdemeanor cases.”
She added that making victims face juries adds to the time and stress they already face.
“The court systems are already stretched to the limits of their capacity and we anticipate this decision will delay cases as they attempt to work through accommodating this process,” Meuschke said.
She said that conflict must be addressed and quickly.
“Unless solutions are found, we gravely fear that it will be the victims of domestic violence that will pay the price,” she said.