Supreme Court rules parole hearings exempt from open meeting law
September 20, 2007
The Nevada Supreme Court ruled today that parole board hearings are exempt from the open meeting law.
The court unanimously agreed parole hearings are quasi judicial, which specifically exempts them.
Parole Board spokesman David Smith said that backs up the 2007 Legislature’s decision on the issue. But he said those hearings are still open to the public. And he said the new law requires inmates be given reasonable notice of their hearings and have the right to have representation to help present their case. They must also be given reasons why they were denied if that is the board’s decision.
The big difference, Smith said, is the public comment mandated by the open meeting law will not be allowed.
The case was filed by inmate John Witherow who is serving a life sentence as an habitual criminal. He sued after his mother and sister were denied the right speak in favor of his release at his 2002 hearing. He argued the public must be given a chance to speak at a public hearing under the terms of the open meeting law.