Davis v. State Litigation Background
In 2018, Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and all other indigent defendants in the Rural Counties, filed an Action against the State of Nevada and Governor Steve Sisolak (collectively, “Defendants”), challenging the constitutionality of Defendants’ policies and practices of indigent defense in the rural counties of Churchill, Douglas, Esmeralda, Eureka, Lander, Lincoln, Lyon, Mineral, Nye and White Pine.
On June 3, 2019, the Nevada Legislature passed Assembly Bill 81 (“AB 81”), creating the Department of Indigent Defense Services and the Board on Indigent Defense Services. AB 81 was codified at Nevada Revised Statutes Sections 180.002 et seq. AB81 charged the Department with oversight and regulation of indigent defense services throughout the State.
On April 30, 2020, the IFC approved certain expenditures for the Department by providing funding to retain a data analyst, perform a rural specific weighted caseload study, purchase a case management system, and provide training for indigent defense attorneys. This funding allowed the Department to accelerate the implementation of AB 81.
Without any admission of fault or wrongdoing, the Parties wished to settle the Action to avoid cost, difficulty, and the uncertainty of further litigation. In August of 2020, the judge presiding over Davis v. Nevada approved a “Stipulated Consent Judgment.” The State of Nevada, by and through the Board, has agreed to comply with the terms of the judgment. For a minimum of three years, the court appointed monitor, Professor Eve Hanan, will monitor the state’s progress to ensure that Nevada complies with the terms of the judgment and will provide quarterly reports to the Court. The terms of the Judgment will remain in effect until the Defendants demonstrate substantial compliance with the obligations of the Judgment.
The requirements from the Judgment are set out in three parts. First, the state must eliminate economic disincentives to indigent defense providers providing effective representation. Second, the state must establish minimum standards for indigent defense and provide training and resources to indigent defense attorneys. Third, the state must require uniform data collection and reporting on indigent defense services.