Coca v. Nevada

Brief of National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers and Nevada Attorneys for Criminal Justice in Support of Appellant

Brief filed: 03/23/2023


Coca v. Nevada

Supreme Court of the State of Nevada; Case No. 85519


The Supreme Court’s decision in Shinn fundamentally changed the landscape in which this Court decided Brown. Should Brown remain Nevada law, it will grossly undermine defendants’ right to competent counsel by devastating their ability to seek review of IATC claims. This Court should overrule Brown and redefine cause to overcome state procedural bars in state habeas proceedings. Brown’s consequences are now intolerable from the standpoint of history, equity, precedent, and due process.Amici respectfully ask this Court to reexamine and abrogate Brown and its definition of cause in light of Shinn. Amici ask this Court to expand the definition of cause excusing Nevada’s procedural bars to include the ineffective assistance of initial post-conviction counsel. This narrow shift in the Court’s explanation of cause is well within this Court’s authority. See Martinez, 566 U.S. at 13 (recognizing that the definition of cause is within the judiciary’s discretion to alter); see also Brown, 130 Nev. at 569, 331 P.3d at 870 (recognizing that this Court defines cause for the purposes of state habeas proceedings). Such a shift will ensure that criminal defendants have access to a meaningful process for litigating IATC claims, satisfying this Court’s implicit dictate in Mack v. Williams, 138 Nev. Adv. Op. 86, 522 P.3d 434, 450 (2022), that every constitutional right requires a remedy.


Lauren D. Wigginton, Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP + NACJ, Las Vegas, NV; Robin Wechkin, Sidley Austin LLP + NACDL, Washington, DC

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