Blanton v. City of North Las Vegas, Nevada

PETITIONER: Blanton
RESPONDENT: City of North Las Vegas, Nevada
LOCATION: Pasco County Sheriff’s Office

DOCKET NO.: 87-1437
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Nevada

CITATION: 489 US 538 (1989)
ARGUED: Jan 09, 1989
DECIDED: Mar 06, 1989

ADVOCATES:
John J. Graves, Jr. - on behalf of the Petitioners
Mark L. Zolaoras - for respondent
Mark L. Zalaoras - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Blanton v. City of North Las Vegas, Nevada

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 09, 1989 in Blanton v. City of North Las Vegas, Nevada

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument now in No. 87-1437, Melvin Blanton v. The City of North Las Vegas.

Mr. Graves, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

John J. Graves, Jr.:

Thank you, Your Honor.

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court:

Blanton and Fraley were arrested and charged with driving under the influence in the City of North Las Vegas, Nevada, in July and June, respectively, of 1986.

Blanton made a written demand for a jury trial in the municipal court, and that demand was denied.

We took a petition for a writ of mandamus to the district court, our court of general jurisdiction, and that request was denied.

And we took an appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Mr. Fraley, in the North Las Vegas municipal court made a written demand for a jury trial that was denied.

He entered a plea of guilty to the charge.

He took an appeal of trial de novo to the district court and the demand for a jury trial was granted.

From that granting of the demand for a jury trial, the City of North Las Vegas took an original writ of certiorari to the Nevada Supreme Court.

William H. Rehnquist:

The Nevada Supreme Court made no point about Fraley having pleaded guilty.

John J. Graves, Jr.:

No, sir, they did not.

The Nevada Supreme Court construed the Baldwin case rather strictly, wouldn't we... woodenly we think, and stated that the Baldwin standard of six months and $500 was the only standard that it would stand on.

And as a result of that, the request for a jury trial in driving under the influence cases was denied.

In its decision it also indicated certain policy reasons.

Part of this was expense of the jury trials, general inconvenience in rural areas, non-lawyer/judge problems.

And it finally concluded by suggesting that it was up to the legislature to resolve this problem.

Antonin Scalia:

Well, it didn't stand that strictly on it because wasn't the fine... wasn't the possible fine here more than $500?

John J. Graves, Jr.:

Yes, sir.

It was $1,000, but it--

Antonin Scalia:

So, it wasn't really all that wooden.

John J. Graves, Jr.:

--Sir?

Antonin Scalia:

It wasn't all that wooden.

John J. Graves, Jr.:

No, sir.

The $1,000 fine has been in the law in the State of Nevada for several years now, but I think that in most of the lower court cases I believe that the fine of $500 has been abandoned by most of the courts.

I think even in this Court.

I think in Muniz v. Hoffman you indicate that it's not talismanic.

So--