Two Advance Opinions from 2/8/24

4 months 5 days ago #237 by Joseph Allan Tommasino

Wynn v. The Associated Press,

140 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 6

February 8, 2024

Appeal from a district court order granting an anti-SLAPP special motion to dismiss. Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County; Ronald J. Israel, Judge.


Before the Supreme Court, Herndon, Lee, and Parraguirre, JJ.

By the Court, PARRAGUIRRE, J.:


“In designing its anti-SLAPP statutes, Nevada recognized the essential role of the First Amendment rights to petition the government for a redress of grievances and to free speech, and the danger posed by civil claims aimed at chilling the valid exercise of those rights. 1997 Nev. Stat., ch. 387, at 1363-64 (preamble to bill enacting anti-SLAPP statutes). To limit that chilling effect, the statutes provide defendants with an opportunity--through a special motion to dismiss--to obtain an early and expeditious resolution of a meritless claim for relief that is based on protected activity. NRS 41.650; NRS 41.660(1)(a). District courts resolve such motions based on the two-prong framework laid out in NRS 41.660(3).

Under the first prong, the court must ‘[d]etermine whether the moving party has established, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the claim is based upon a good faith communication in furtherance of the right to petition or the right to free speech in direct connection with an issue of public concern.’ NRS 41.660(3)(a).

If the moving party makes this initial showing, the burden shifts to the plaintiff under the second prong to show ‘with prima facie evidence a probability of prevailing on the claim.’ NRS 41.660(3)(b).”


“In this appeal, we consider the proper burden a public figure must carry to show a probability of prevailing on a defamation claim at the second prong of the anti-SLAPP framework.”

Brief Answer:

“We clarify that, under the second prong, a public figure defamation plaintiff must provide sufficient evidence for a jury, by clear and convincing evidence, to reasonably infer that the publication was made with actual malice.

Because respondents met their respective burden under prong one, and the public figure plaintiff in the underlying defamation action failed to meet his burden under prong two, we affirm the district court's order granting respondents renewed special motion to dismiss.”


Willson v. First Jud. Dist. Ct.,

140 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 7

February 8, 2024

Original petition for a writ of certiorari challenging an order of the district court denying an appeal from a judgment of conviction, entered pursuant to a bench trial, of obstructing a public officer.

Petition granted.




“In this opinion, we consider constitutional challenges to NRS 197.190, which provides that a person may not ‘willfully hinder, delay or obstruct any public officer in the discharge of official powers or duties.’

Petitioner Lina Marie Willson was charged and convicted under NRS 197.190 after yelling from her front yard at several police officers, who were attending to a separate, potentially life-threatening matter involving a juvenile on the street near Willson's house.

After the district court affirmed her misdemeanor conviction, Willson petitioned for a writ of certiorari, arguing that NRS 197.190 is unconstitutionally overbroad or vague.”

Brief Answers:

“We conclude that

(1) NRS 197.190 applies only to physical conduct or fighting words that are specifically intended to hinder, delay, or obstruct a public officer and, therefore,

(2) NRS 197.190, as construed by this court, is not unconstitutionally overbroad or vague, either on its face or as applied to Willson.

Although we hold that Willson's as-applied claims fail, we recognize that Willson's claims implicate the sufficiency of the evidence in light of our interpretation of NRS 197.190. Since the district court did not have the benefit of our interpretation of NRS 197.190 as applying only to physical conduct and fighting words, it did not consider whether there was sufficient evidence to support Willson's conviction. Accordingly, we grant the petition and direct the clerk of this court to issue a writ of certiorari upholding NRS 197.190's constitutionality and instructing the district court to reconsider Willson’s direct appeal for the sole purpose of addressing whether, under this court's interpretation of NRS 197.190, sufficient evidence supported Willson's conviction.”


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