Statutes and Case Law

"Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony." —M. Python

"Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it."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." —Henry David Thoreau

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.

Disclaimer: All discussions 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 in detail. 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.

Below 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.


Chapter 432B 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.)

      History: Prior to 2003, all abuse/neglect hearings were CLOSED, using Neanderthal language that left little leeway for negotiation. 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.)

        Pushing the Limits: On 11/8/05, I submitted an 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 foster homes.
    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.

Section 128 describes the steps necessary to terminate parental rights.

Section 127 governs adoption.

Section 432 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.

Juvenile Justice

Sections 62 through 63.

Minor Relevance

Section 432A governs the administration of day care centers and summer camps, but it may also apply to Child Haven.

Section 423 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 Child Haven?

Supreme Court Rules

Part IV of the Nevada Supreme Court Rules 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. 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

District Court Rules (PDF) govern the procedures of this specific court (the 8th) and govern such things as filing procedures and assignment of cases.
    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!)

Out-of-State Law

Law and practices in other states can sometimes be helpful in evaluating Nevada. Here are some useful links we have encountered.

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