Barber v. State

Decision Date31 December 2015
Docket NumberNo. 62649.,62649.
Citation363 P.3d 459
Parties Jaquez Dejuan BARBER, Appellant, v. The STATE of Nevada, Respondent.
CourtNevada Supreme Court

Philip J. Kohn, Public Defender, and Sharon G. Dickinson, Deputy Public Defender, Clark County, for Appellant.

Adam Paul Laxalt, Attorney General, Carson City; Steven B. Wolfson, District Attorney, and Jonathan E. VanBoskerck, Chief Deputy District Attorney, Clark County, for Respondent.

Before the Court En Banc.


By the Court, HARDESTY, C.J.:

Under NRS 62D.310, a juvenile court must make a final disposition of a case within 60 days of a petition being filed, but the court may extend the time for final disposition up to 1 year. In this appeal, we are asked to consider whether the juvenile court loses jurisdiction over a juvenile if it does not make its final disposition of the case within the one-year period provided by statute. We conclude that the juvenile court maintains jurisdiction over a juvenile even after expiration of the one-year time period. We are also asked to consider whether there was sufficient evidence to convict appellant Barber of burglary and grand larceny. In considering this argument, we reexamine our decision in Geiger v. State, 112 Nev. 938, 940–41, 920 P.2d 993, 995 (1996), and conclude that insufficient evidence in this case warrants reversal of the judgment of conviction.


On January 21, 2009, Aldegunda Mendoza returned home from a meeting at her daughter's school to find her front door ajar and her backyard "full of water." She noticed her drawers had been ransacked and she called the police. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) officer Chad Shevlin responded and performed a sweep of the home, discovering that the back sliding door and the master bathroom window were also open. Soon after, Mendoza discovered cash and Mexican pesos were missing from the home.

A broken spigot attached to the back of the house, located under the master bathroom window, was the source of the water in the backyard. A bucket of concrete paint had been placed under the outside of the master bathroom window, and the tub ring and the interior wall had marks on them. Officer Shevlin opined that this evidence suggested that the bathroom window had been the intruder's point of entry. He then called for crime scene analysts to come to the home.

Robbie Dahn, a senior crime scene analyst, and three ride-along department trainees responded to the call, Dahn dusted for fingerprints, and she or a trainee under her supervision photographed the scene. Dahn took many fingerprints but focused on what she also determined to be the point of entry, the master bathroom window. Additionally, she focused on the interior of the bathroom.

Latent print examiner Kathryn Aoyama testified that Dahn recovered eight readable prints. Three of the prints recovered from inside the home belonged to a ride-along trainee. Four prints did not match anyone. Aoyama testified that one palm print found on the outside master bathroom window, the alleged point of entry, matched Barber. This match, however, was made after Barber turned 18 years old and was arrested and processed in the adult system for a different crime.

Procedural history

At the time of the burglary, Barber was 17 years old. On April 8, 2009, LVMPD sought an arrest warrant for Barber. The juvenile court issued the warrant on May 12, 2009, and the warrant was served that same day. Also on May 12, the State filed a juvenile delinquency petition charging Barber with burglary and grand larceny.

On August 16, 2010, more than a year after the State filed its juvenile delinquency petition, the State filed a petition to certify Barber for criminal proceedings as an adult. At the certification hearing the following month, Barber waived any objection to the certification petition, and the juvenile court granted the State's petition and certified Barber for criminal proceedings as an adult.

After a three-day jury trial, Barber was found guilty on both counts. The court sentenced Barber to a term of 12 to 30 months for each count running concurrently and ordered $7,000 in restitution. This appeal followed.


On appeal, Barber argues that the juvenile court lost jurisdiction over him after one year had passed without the court making a final disposition on the delinquency petition pursuant to NRS 62D.310(3), and there was insufficient evidence to convict him of burglary and grand larceny.1

The juvenile court maintained jurisdiction over Barber after one year had passed without the court making a final disposition of the delinquency petition under NRS 62D.310(3)

Barber argues that since NRS 62D.310(3) requires a final disposition of a case within 1 year after a delinquency petition has been filed and 15 months had passed before the State filed a certification petition, the juvenile court lost jurisdiction over him. This jurisdiction issue is a matter of first impression.

Resolving this issue requires an interpretation of NRS 62D.310(3), and this court reviews questions of statutory construction de novo. State v. Lucero, 127 Nev. 92, 95, 249 P.3d 1226, 1228 (2011). Legislative intent is paramount to interpreting a statute. Id. "The starting point for determining legislative intent is the statute's plain meaning; when a statute is clear on its face, a court cannot go beyond the statute in determining legislative intent." Id. (internal quotations omitted). "This court ‘avoid[s] statutory interpretation that renders language meaningless or superfluous,’ and [i]f the statute's language is clear and unambiguous, [this court will] enforce the statute as written.’ " In re George J., ––– Nev. ––––, 279 P.3d 187, 190 (2012) (alterations in original) (quoting Hobbs v. State, 127 Nev. 234, 237, 251 P.3d 177, 179 (2011) ). Additionally, this court "attempt[s] to harmonize [statutory] provisions in order to carry out the overriding legislative purpose." In re Eric A.L., 123 Nev. 26, 31, 153 P.3d 32, 35 (2007).

Here, the central issue is whether the juvenile court had jurisdiction over Barber. While Barber did not challenge jurisdiction in juvenile or district court, jurisdictional issues can be raised at any time. Landreth v. Malik, 127 Nev. 175, 179, 251 P.3d 163, 166 (2011) ("[W]hether a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction ‘can be raised by the parties at any time, or sua sponte by a court of review, and cannot be conferred by the parties.’ " (quoting Swan v. Swan, 106 Nev. 464, 469, 796 P.2d 221, 224 (1990) )). This court reviews issues of subject matter jurisdiction de novo. Ogawa v. Ogawa, 125 Nev. 660, 667, 221 P.3d 699, 704 (2009).

"[T]he juvenile court system is a creation of statute, and it possesses only the jurisdiction expressly provided for it in the statute." Kell v. State, 96 Nev. 791, 792–93, 618 P.2d 350, 351 (1980). By statute, "the juvenile court has exclusive original jurisdiction over a child living or found within the county who is alleged or adjudicated to have committed a delinquent act." NRS 62B.330(1). Here, the juvenile court had exclusive jurisdiction because the State alleged that when Barber was 17 years old, he committed acts that would be criminal offenses (burglary under NRS 205.060 and grand larceny under NRS 205.220 ), and those offenses are not excluded from the juvenile court's jurisdiction. See NRS 62A.030(1) (defining "child"); NRS 62B.330 (providing that the juvenile court has exclusive original jurisdiction over a child alleged or adjudicated to have committed a delinquent act and listing acts deemed not to be delinquent and therefore not within the juvenile court's jurisdiction).

However, Barber argues that the juvenile court lost jurisdiction and could not certify the case to the district court when it did not comply with NRS 62D.310. We disagree. Under NRS 62D.310(1), "the juvenile court shall make its final disposition of a case not later than 60 days after the date on which the [delinquency] petition in the case was filed." The statute permits several exceptions for extension of the 60–day period, but "[t]he juvenile court shall not extend the time for final disposition of a case beyond 1 year from the date on which the petition in the case was filed." NRS 62D.310(3) ; see NRS 62D.310(2). The statute does not specify a remedy or sanction when the juvenile court does not comply with the statutory deadlines.

Jurisdiction stripping or dismissal requirements would normally be included if that were the Legislature's intent. For example, some states have provisions that are similar to NRS 62D.310. See, e.g., Fla. R. Juv. P.R. 8.090(a)(1) (requiring an adjudicatory hearing within 90 days from detention); 705 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 405/5–601(1) (West 2005) (requiring a trial within 120 days of filing a delinquency petition). These statutes, however, do not indicate that juvenile courts lose jurisdiction; instead, they either expressly require or permit dismissal when courts exceed their deadlines. Fla. R. Juv. P.R. 8.090(m) (permitting dismissal); 705 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 405/5–601(3) (requiring dismissal). Unlike Florida and Illinois, exceeding the deadlines in NRS 62D.310 does not require dismissal. Other states that have interpreted similar statutes that are silent on the remedy or sanction for violating the time limits have not read jurisdiction stripping or dismissal language into them. For example, Vermont courts have held that delays beyond the deadlines for disposition hearings in its statutes did not mandate dismissal. See, e.g., In re J.V., 154 Vt. 644, 573 A.2d 1196, 1196 (1990) (noting that "[t]he time limits are directory rather than jurisdictional requirements"). Accordingly, without express language in the statutes articulating that juvenile courts lose jurisdiction for noncompliance, the juvenile court maintains jurisdiction. See McKay v. Bd. of Cnty. Comm'rs of Douglas Cnty., 103 Nev. 490, 492, 746 P.2d 124, 125 (1987) (explaining that when a statute is silent, "it is not the...

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