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Case Synopsis

In November 2003 the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department executed a decoy operation targeting the crime of robbery. An officer was posed on a public street dressed as an intoxicated, off-duty casino dealer with a stack of twenty one-dollar bills visible in his left dress shirt pocket. The defendant approached the officer, made conversation and casually removed the dollar bills while placing his arm around the officer. When the officer acted as though he was turning his head to catch the defendant in the act, the defendant pushed the officer’s head away with his forearm twice. The defendant was arrested and charged with robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. He pled not guilty. The State informed the court that if the defendant used an entrapment defense it intended to use a certified minute order from a prior California conviction as rebuttal to show predisposition. Defense counsel said he would pursue an entrapment defense and objected to the sufficiency of the minute order’s ability to demonstrate that the defendant was the named individual. The court ruled that the State could use the minute order for rebuttal to an entrapment defense. Defense counsel informed the court that the defendant would testify and asked whether the State intended to use the minute order to impeach. The State said it would. Defense renewed its objection to the minute order based on identity. The court ruled that if the defendant testified, the State could use the minute order to impeach his testimony. The State informed the court that it had evidence of the defendant’s 1984 Washington conviction that it also wanted to use for rebuttal and impeachment. The defense objected. The court ruled that the Washington conviction was too remote in time. The Washington conviction remained relevant, however, because the fingerprints on the Washington conviction had the same FBI fingerprint identification number as those on the California certified minute order, thus it served to indicate that he was the individual named in the minute order. The defendant did not testify and declined the court’s invitation to request any jury instructions on entrapment. The defendant was found guilty of robbery and not guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery. The defendant appealed the trial court’s ruling on the admissibility of the minute order. The Nevada Supreme Court adopted the view that a defendant preserves his right to appeal an in limine ruling based on improper impeachment, when he does not testify, so long as he makes an offer of proof as to what his testimony would have been absent the ruling. Additionally, they held that a certified minute may be used for rebuttal and not for impeachment but that its admission for impeachment here was harmless error.