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THE FAMILY COURT PROJECT HAS COME TO A CLOSE.
Effective 6/1/08, Family Court Chronicles has become inactive ( announcement), and
no new information will be added. The page below is retained for
archive purposes, but it could be out of date. Upon request,
the webmaster will
continue to correct significant errors and will consider
removing information that is destructively obsolete.
(Email: FamilyCourtGuy (at) gmail.com) See
Glenn Campbell's home page for his still-active websites.
Statutes and Case Law
M. Python "Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony."
"Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it." Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
"For every ten people who are clipping at the branches of evil, you're lucky to find one who's hacking at the roots."
This page (always under construction) explores statutes and
case law regarding child welfare in Nevada.
This page has been abandoned for the
time being, but we may come back to it later.
and interpretations of law are those of the webmaster, who has no
legal training. Trust them only at your peril!
(Come to think of it, we wouldn't trust most lawyers, either.)
The processes of child protection, foster care, juvenile justice and divorce
in Las Vegas are governed
by written state law, called the
Nevada Revised Statutes
(NRS). NRS is similar in substance to the laws of other states (in part because
every state must comply with Federal law), although it can differ
NRS is the Bible of the Family Services Center: Nearly everything done here is ultimately empowered or constrained by these rules.
Where the Federal government has its own rules and laws, these are
usually complied with by incorporating them into NRS.
(There is very little discussion of federal law in Family Court,
except to resolve vagueries in NRS.)
The city and county may have their own ordinances, but
nearly everything that takes place in this courthouse is
governed by state law.
are some relevent sections of Nevada law.
The links provided lead to the statute on a state website.
However, some important information is missing from that website:
case law. These are the rulings of appeals courts (mainly the Nevada Supreme
Court) that help resolve vagueries in the written law. Nevada residents
can find the relevant case law in the printed volumes of NRS that are found
in most public libraries.
defines the structure and operation of child protective services.
Which hearings are open?
Most juvenile hearings (juvenile justice and abuse/neglect)
are technically open to the public unless
specifically closed by the judge to serve the best
interests of the child. (See NRS 432B.430 for abuse/neglect
and NRS 062.010 for juvenile justice.) In most
cases, the presumption is in favor of openness with
explicit justification being required to close a hearing.
Nevada is very progressive among the states for allowing this
openness, but the exceptions are inconsistent. The only
explicit exclusions appear to be termination of parental rights hearings
(1-2 years after children are taken into custody)
and petition ajudication hearings (about 40 days after children are taken into custody).
In the case of termination proceedings, the judge can open
the proceedings if not detrimental to the child
( NRS 128.090).
However, petition hearings ( NRS 432B.530) must
be closed to the public unless it is in the best interests
of the child that they be open, which is a nearly impossible
standard for any outside party to meet. (As the law is written, there appears to be no reasonable way that a member of the general public or even a credentialed
journalist can gain access to those hearings.)
Interestingly, there appears to be no such restriction on
the potentially more volatile 72-hour Protective Custody (PC)
hearings immediately after a child is taken
into custody ( NRS 432B.470). These hearings
are open by default. (Evidence of openness is provided in this
Review-Journal article in
which the press was admitted.)
Prior to 2003, all abuse/neglect hearings were CLOSED, using
Neanderthal language that left little leeway for
negotiation. History Formerly NRS 432B.430 stated: "only those persons having a direct interest in the case, as ordered by the judge or master, may be admitted to any proceeding held pursuant to NRS 432B.410 to 432B.590, inclusive."
This law was amended in 2003
by Assembly Bill 132 (2003 chapter 514, p. 3517).
A report on the effects of the bill was given to the next session of
the legislature (the 73rd), but apparently the results were
found to be satisfactory and no further action was taken.
(I would like to see a copy of this report as well
as the minutes of the original committee hearing.)
On 11/8/05, I submitted an
Pushing the Limits Ex-Parte Motion
to Judge Hardcastle
requesting to view the VIDEOTAPE of a bland hearing that I had
already witnessed in person. I figured that if the law did not
bar me from viewing a hearing, then it would not bar me from
viewing the identical video of the same proceedings.
Hardcastle rejected the motion (in a phone call) explaining
that he would take a strict interpretation of the statute
(allowing attendence only). I think it could be pushed,
but I am willing to drop it. (There have to be boundaries
somewhere to restrict total openness--which would be bad.
This one is somewhat awkward and artificial, but it works.)
NRS 432B.550 gives birth
parents the right to choose the religious affiliation
of their children while in foster care.
It also gives preference for placing siblings together.
Section 424 governs the licensing of
Section 424 Administrative Code
NRS 424.038 states: "The provider of family foster care shall maintain the confidentiality of information obtained pursuant to this section under the terms and conditions otherwise required by law." No penalty is specified.
describes the steps necessary to terminate parental rights.
describes the structure of child welfare services.
NRS 432.035(3) states:
"Except for purposes directly connected with the administration of NRS 432.010 to 432.085, inclusive, no person may publish, disclose, use or permit or cause to be published, disclosed or used any confidential information pertaining to a recipient of services under the provisions of NRS 432.010 to 432.085, inclusive." No penalty is specified.
Sections 62 through 63.
governs the administration of day care centers and summer camps,
but it may also apply to Child Haven.
governs the operation of "Children's Homes". This section
appears moot, applying only to two state orphanages
that no longer exist. Does any of this apply to
Supreme Court Rules
Part IV of the governs the
access of electronic media to court proceedings.
72 hours notice and permission of the judge is required to the court before any proceedings
can be recorded or broadcast.
Nevada Supreme Court Rules I assume that this restriction does not
apply to print media.
A current calendar of media outlets that have obtain this
permission is found
here. This calendar is an excellent guide to the
criminal cases that are currently "hot" at the moment.
Rule 246 Governs the use of tape recorders by reporters
for transcription purposes.
District Court Rules
Rules (PDF) govern the procedures of this specific court
and govern such things as filing procedures and assignment
Rule 5.02 allows divorce hearings to be closed to the
public upon motion of either party, which is typically
done whenever a hearing has the potential for
being contentious. (Darn!)
Law and practices in other states can sometimes be
helpful in evaluating Nevada. Here are some useful
links we have encountered.
Because this website has been frozen,
reader comments can no longer be added to this page (effective 8/3/09).
If you feel that an existing comment is damaging or inappropriate, feel free to
contact the webmaster regarding its removal:
familycourtguy (at) gmail.com
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