Summer Highlights from the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court had a very productive summer, issuing numerous wide-reaching published decisions. For this month’s column, I thought it might be useful to discuss briefly a few cases in particular that touch on areas of interest to many practitioners. What follows is intended only to make readers aware of these decisions, not to provide any in-depth analysis.
In the July/August issue of The Writ, my law partner Paul Georgeson analyzed the case of A.J. v. Eighth Jud. District. Ct., 133 Nev. Adv. Op. 28 (June 1, 2017), in which the Supreme Court strayed from the plain meaning rule of statutory interpretation. There, the Court held that even when the statute is plain and unambiguous on its face, courts may look to legislative history to interpret the unambiguous language. As Paul noted, that holding left open questions about the future of the plain meaning rule.
A month later, the Court addressed another statutory construction case to decipher whether a district court conducting judicial review of a Public Utilities Commission decision, has discretion under NRS 703.373(6) to grant the petitioner an extension of time to file its opening brief. Rural Tel. Co. v. PUCN, 133 Nev. Adv. Op. 53 (Aug. 3, 2017). In setting out the rules for statutory construction the Court stuck to its long-held plain meaning rule and made no reference to the A.J. case: “[W]hen the language of a statute is plain and unambiguous, the courts are not permitted to look beyond the statute itself when determining its meaning.” Id. at p. 4 (Internal quotation omitted). Citing that and other fundamental principles of statutory interpretation, the Court interpreted the word “must” to prohibit the district court from granting an extension of time for filing the opening brief.
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The Writ – Appellate Briefs
September 2017, Vol. 39, No.8
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