30 P.3d 1123 (Nev. 2001), 35810, Crawford v. State

Docket Nº:35810.
Citation:30 P.3d 1123, 117 Nev. 718
Opinion Judge:[8] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Agosti, J.
Party Name:David CRAWFORD, Appellant, v. The STATE of Nevada, Respondent.
Attorney:[6]
Case Date:September 17, 2001
Court:Supreme Court of Nevada
 
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Page 1123

30 P.3d 1123 (Nev. 2001)

117 Nev. 718

David CRAWFORD, Appellant,

v.

The STATE of Nevada, Respondent.

No. 35810.

Supreme Court of Nevada

September 17, 2001.

Page 1124

Scott L. Bindrup, Las Vegas, for Appellant.

Frankie Sue Del Papa, Attorney General, Carson City; Stewart L. Bell, District Attorney, and James Tufteland, Chief Deputy District Attorney, Clark County, for Respondent.

[117 Nev. 719] Before SHEARING, AGOSTI and ROSE, JJ.

OPINION

By the Court, AGOSTI, J.

The body of Gloria Joann Dugan, a woman with whom David Crawford was personally involved in a relationship, was discovered on March 25, 1997. She had been shot multiple times. After the police investigated her homicide, the district attorney charged David Crawford, on March 28, 1997, with murder with the use of a deadly weapon and burglary.

At a hearing on April 10, 1997, the justice of the peace lowered Crawford's bail to $360,000.00. Crawford's parents posted the bail and he was released that day. Crawford waived his right to have the preliminary hearing which was scheduled for August 6, 1997, based upon a plea bargain he had made with the State. Crawford had agreed to enter a plea of guilty to first-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon. He also agreed to accept a sentence of two terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Crawford and the State also agreed that sentencing would take place after Christmas 1997.

Crawford was expected to plead guilty according to the terms of the plea bargain on August 21, 1997. However, that hearing was continued after the court granted Crawford's request that he be allowed to enter his plea after his September birthday had passed.

At a hearing on November 17, 1997, Crawford, instead of pleading guilty according to the plea bargain, pleaded not guilty. The court set the matter for trial, but that trial date was continued. Crawford remained on bail and in the community for more than two years with the first-degree murder charge pending. He married and fathered a child during his time at liberty in the community.

On August 26, 1999, four days prior to his scheduled trial date, Crawford withdrew his plea of not guilty and thereafter entered a plea of guilty to first-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon. He had executed a written plea agreement that morning, prior to the hearing on his change of plea. Crawford wanted to remain on bail until he was sentenced, and he wanted to be sentenced after Christmas 1999. After accepting Crawford's guilty plea, the court set his sentencing date for January 6, 2000. Crawford was permitted to remain at liberty on his previously posted bail. However, the court, acting on its own initiative, held a hearing one week

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after Crawford had pleaded guilty. The hearing concerned Crawford's bail status. Ultimately, on September 9, 1999, the court revoked Crawford's bail, and Crawford was jailed.

Crawford objected, claiming that a condition for his guilty plea was that he be allowed to remain at liberty until after Christmas. His motions for reconsideration, for a remand to justice court or, in the alternative, to withdraw his guilty plea were denied by the court. Crawford was sentenced in February 2000 to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for Dugan's murder and for the use of a deadly weapon.

Crawford raises several issues on appeal including allegations that his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment were violated by the court when it displayed personal bias against Crawford by revoking his bail. We determine that this assignment of error is without merit. In our review of the record we detect no evidence of bias.

Crawford next claims that the judge engaged in an ex parte communication with Crawford's attorney. The day before Crawford pleaded guilty, a member of the judge's staff contacted Crawford's counsel and directed him to phone the judge at his home. Counsel called the deputy district attorney assigned to prosecute Crawford and told him he would be calling the court as [117 Nev. 721] directed. Counsel then phoned the judge...

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