Cote H. v. Dist. Ct., No. 48455.

Docket NºNo. 48455.
Citation175 P.3d 906
Case DateJanuary 31, 2008
CourtSupreme Court of Nevada
175 P.3d 906
COTE H., A Minor, Petitioner,
v.
The EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT of the State of Nevada, In and For the COUNTY OF CLARK, and the Honorable William O. Voy, District Judge, Family Court Division, Respondents, and
The State of Nevada, Real Party in Interest.
No. 48455.
Supreme Court of Nevada.
January 31, 2008.

Philip J. Kohn, Public Defender, and Jessica W. Murphy, Deputy Public Defender, Clark County, for Petitioner.

[175 P.3d 907]

Catherine Cortez Masto, Attorney General, Carson City; David J. Roger, District Attorney, and Mary D. Brown, Deputy District Attorney, Clark County, for Real Party in Interest.

BEFORE GIBBONS, C.J., CHERRY and SAITTA, JJ.

OPINION

PER CURIAM:


In resolving this petition for a writ of prohibition or mandamus, we consider whether NRS 201.230(1), which defines the offense of lewdness with a minor under the age of 14, can, be used to adjudicate as delinquent a minor under the age of 14. We conclude that because NRS 201.230's plain, broad language applies to "persons" of all ages, the statute can be used to adjudicate as delinquent minors under the age of 14, even though they are part of the class of persons protected by the statute.1 Accordingly, we are not persuaded that our intervention by way of extraordinary relief is warranted.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In July 2006, Richard Larmouth went upstairs in his sister's home to check on his 4-year-old niece, M.R., and his nephew, petitioner Cote H. Larmouth, on walking into M.R.'s bedroom, saw Cote fondling his cousin, M.R. Larmouth took M.R. downstairs to her mother. M.R.'s mother confronted Cote, who confessed to the act and also admitted to fondling the girl once at his home in Utah. M.R.'s mother then contacted the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Subsequently, Detective Hernandez of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department arrived at Larmouth's sister's home and spoke with Larmouth and M.R.'s mother. M.R. then recounted the fondling to Detective Hernandez. Detective Hernandez then met with Cote and Cote's father. Cote's father informed Detective Hernandez that Cote said that he did not know why he fondled M.R. but that he knew his actions were wrong. Detective Hernandez then placed Cote under arrest, transported him to the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center, and read him his Miranda2 rights. Cote stated that he understood his rights and did not want a parent present. He then described in detail, and confessed to, the fondling incidents at both his residence in Utah and M.R.'s home.

Thereafter, the State filed a delinquency petition alleging that Cote committed the offense of lewdness with a minor under 14 years of age in violation of NRS 201.230(1). Cote asserted, by oral motion, that the delinquency petition should be dismissed because he was a member of the class of persons protected by NRS 201.230(1). The district court ultimately issued an order denying the motion. Subsequently, Cote sought from this court a petition for a writ of prohibition precluding the district court from proceeding on the State's delinquency petition, or a writ of mandamus directing the district court to dismiss the underlying delinquency petition. At the same time, Cote moved this court for a stay of the district court proceedings. We issued an order granting a stay and directing an answer to the petition.

DISCUSSION

Standards for writ relief

A writ of prohibition is appropriate when a district court acts without or in excess of its jurisdiction.3 A writ of mandamus

175 P.3d 908

is available "to compel the performance of an act which the law . . . [requires] as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station,"4 or to control a manifest abuse or an arbitrary or capricious exercise of discretion.5 Because both writs of prohibition and writs of mandamus are extraordinary remedies, we have complete discretion to determine whether to consider them.6 Generally, neither a writ of prohibition nor a writ of mandamus is appropriate if the petitioner has a "plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law."7 While an appeal generally constitutes an adequate and speedy remedy precluding writ relief,8 we have, nonetheless, exercised our discretion to intervene "under circumstances of urgency or strong necessity, or when an important issue of law needs clarification and sound judicial economy and administration favor the granting of the petition."9

In this case, although Cote appears to have a plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the form of an appeal from any judgment adjudicating him a delinquent, we consider this petition because the applicability of NRS 201.230(1) to minors under the age of 14 constitutes an important question of law that needs clarification. In addition, because this petition involves a question of first impression that arises with some frequency, the interests of sound judicial economy and administration favor consideration of the petition.

Statutory interpretation of NRS 201.231(1)

Even when raised in a writ petition, this court reviews questions of statutory interpretation de novo.10 We have stated that

"[w]hen examining a statute, this court should ascribe plain meaning to its words, unless the plain meaning was clearly not intended."11 However, "`[s]tatutes with a protective purpose should be liberally construed in order to effectuate the benefits intended to be obtained.'"12

At issue in this case is the meaning of the term "person" as used in NRS 201.230(1). NRS 201.230(1) provides as follows:

A person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act, other than acts constituting the crime of sexual assault, upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of that person or of that child, is guilty of lewdness with a child.

(Emphasis added.) In determining the applicability of the statute, we begin by looking to the plain meaning of the...

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93 practice notes
  • State v. Gray, No. 93609-9.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • September 14, 2017
    ...may with impunity conspire with others who are able to commit it"); see also Cote H. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 124 Nev. 36, 40-41, 175 P.3d 906 (2008) (a boy who abused his four-year-old cousin could be criminally liable despite belonging to the class of persons the statute was meant ......
  • Thomas v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court of State, No. 69074.
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada
    • September 14, 2017
    ...sound judicial economy and administration favor the granting of the petition.’ " Cote H. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 124 Nev. 36, 39, 175 P.3d 906, 908 (2008) (quoting State v. Second Judicial Dist. Court (Ducharm ), 118 Nev. 609, 614, 55 P.3d 420, 423 (2002) ). The double jeopardy issu......
  • Valdez-Jimenez v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court of Nev., No. 76417
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada
    • April 9, 2020
    ...remedy, it is within our complete discretion whether to consider it. Cote H. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 124 Nev. 36, 39, 175 P.3d 906, 908 (2008). Writ relief is generally available only in "cases where there is not a plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law." NR......
  • State v. Second Judicial Dist. Court of State, No. 72456
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada
    • December 6, 2018
    ...is generally available only when no "adequate and speedy" legal remedy exists, Cote H. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 124 Nev. 36, 39, 175 P.3d 906, 908 (2008). However, this court has exercised its discretion to intervene to resolve "a question of first impression that arises with some fr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
93 cases
  • State v. Gray, No. 93609-9.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • September 14, 2017
    ...may with impunity conspire with others who are able to commit it"); see also Cote H. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 124 Nev. 36, 40-41, 175 P.3d 906 (2008) (a boy who abused his four-year-old cousin could be criminally liable despite belonging to the class of persons the statute was meant ......
  • Thomas v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court of State, No. 69074.
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada
    • September 14, 2017
    ...sound judicial economy and administration favor the granting of the petition.’ " Cote H. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 124 Nev. 36, 39, 175 P.3d 906, 908 (2008) (quoting State v. Second Judicial Dist. Court (Ducharm ), 118 Nev. 609, 614, 55 P.3d 420, 423 (2002) ). The double jeopardy issu......
  • Valdez-Jimenez v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court of Nev., No. 76417
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada
    • April 9, 2020
    ...remedy, it is within our complete discretion whether to consider it. Cote H. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 124 Nev. 36, 39, 175 P.3d 906, 908 (2008). Writ relief is generally available only in "cases where there is not a plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law." NR......
  • State v. Second Judicial Dist. Court of State, No. 72456
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada
    • December 6, 2018
    ...is generally available only when no "adequate and speedy" legal remedy exists, Cote H. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 124 Nev. 36, 39, 175 P.3d 906, 908 (2008). However, this court has exercised its discretion to intervene to resolve "a question of first impression that arises with some fr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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