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Supreme Court of Nevada
December 29, 2022, Filed
[*439] BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT, EN BANC.
By the Court, CADISH, J.:
The United States District [**2] Court for the District of Nevada certified four questions under NRAP 5 concerning a private plaintiff's ability to enforce by private right of action due-process and search-and-seizure rights guaranteed under the Nevada Constitution and a defendant's accompanying ability to defend such actions. While we decline to answer the certified question related to due-process rights, we elect to reframe the remaining certified questions to answer only the determinative issues in this case and, to that end, conclude that a private right of action for money damages exists to vindicate violations of search-and-seizure rights under the Nevada Constitution, but a qualified-immunity defense does not apply to such an action.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Appellant Sonjia Mack went to High Desert State Prison (FIDSP) to visit an inmate. According to Mack, respondents Arthur Emling and Myra Laurian, officers at HDSP, escorted her to an administrative building, where "Laurian conducted a strip search of Mack" that did not turn up any contraband. Still, after the strip search, Emling interrogated Mack regarding her alleged possession of contraband and knowledge of "ongoing crimes." Following the strip search and [**3] interrogation, the HDSP employees refused to allow Mack visitation. Shortly thereafter, Mack received a letter from HDSP indefinitely suspending her visiting privileges and requiring her to obtain written permission from respondents Brian Williams, the Warden of HDSP, or James Dzurenda, the then-Director of the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC), to return to IIDSP.
As a result of this incident, Mack filed a civil-rights action against respondents (collectively, NDOC parties) in federal district court, asserting - violations of her federal and state constitutional rights. "As relevant to the certified questions, Mack asserted that Ending and Laurian's allegedly unlawful strip search of her violated her right to procedural due process under Nevada. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8 and her right against unreasonable searches and seizures under Article 1, Section 18.1 The NDOC parties moved for summary judgment on all state and federal claims; however, their motion focused exclusively on the federal claims and offered no arguments specific to the state-law claims. The U.S. District Court denied summary judgment on the state-law claim under Article 1, Section 8 against Emling and Laurian based on its conclusion that genuine qualified immunity does not apply to claims [**4] based on state law. The court also denied summary judgment on the state-law claim under Article 1, Section 18 against Emling and Laurian based on its conclusion that genuine disputes of material fact existed as to "whether Mack was seized," "Mack consented to the strip Search," and "Ending and Laurian had reasonable suspicion to strip search Mack."
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522 P.3d 434 *; 2022 Nev. LEXIS 87 **; 138 Nev. Adv. Rep. 86
SONJIA MACK, Appellant, vs. BRIAN WILLIAMS; JAMES DZURENDA; ARTHUR EMLING, JR.; AND MYRA LAURIAN, Respondents.
Prior History: Certified questions under NRAP 5 [**1] concerning a private citizen's enforcement, through a claim for damages, of due-process and search-and-seizure rights guaranteed under the Nevada Constitution and the defense of such actions. United States District Court for the District of Nevada; Andrew P. Gordon, District Judge.
Disposition: Questions answered in part.
rights, self-executing, private right of action, search-and-seizure, violations, action for damages, qualified immunity, questions, remedies, constitutional provision, damages, monetary relief, money damages, certified question, damages remedy, provisions, courts, sovereign immunity, state actor, constitutional right, district court, authorization, rephrased, immunity, parties, special factor, strip search, answering, due-process, factors
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, Certified Questions, Constitutional Law, The Judiciary, Case or Controversy, Advisory Opinions, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, State Constitutional Operation, Fundamental Rights, Search & Seizure, Scope of Protection, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Implied Causes of Action, Governments, Courts, Authority to Adjudicate, State & Territorial Governments, Claims By & Against, Legislatures, Torts, Public Entity Liability, Immunities, Sovereign Immunity, Judicial Officers, Judges, Discretionary Powers, Immunity From Liability, Defenses, Qualified Immunity, State Sovereign Immunity, Waiver, Interstate Commerce