Ford, Priscilla: Black; age 51 at crime
(DOB 2- 10-1929); murder of 3 white females and 3 white males in Reno
on 11-27-1980; sentenced on 4-29-1982.
Priscilla Joyce Ford (February 10, 1929 –
January 29, 2005) was a mass murderer who was sentenced to death for
killing six people, and injuring 23 more, driving down a Reno sidewalk
on Thanksgiving Day in 1980. Ford launched numerous appeals against
her death sentence, all of which failed. A heavy smoker, she died at
the age of 75 after suffering from emphysema.
Death row inmate
Woman drove car down
Reno sidewalk in '80, killing six, injuring 23
Sunday, January 30,
The only woman on Nevada's death
row died Saturday at the Southern Nevada Women's Correctional Center
in Las Vegas, authorities said. She was 75.
Priscilla Ford had been suffering
from emphysema and was pronounced dead at 11:05 a.m., said Fritz
Schlottman, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Corrections.
Ford killed six people and
injured 23 others when she drove her 1974 Lincoln Continental down a
crowded Reno sidewalk on Thanksgiving Day in 1980.
"She had been very quiet for so
long," Schlottman said. "No one ever had any problems with her (in
prison). I don't remember hearing about her violating any rules."
Ford's numerous appeals of the
death sentence cost taxpayers a lot of money and unfairly caused
victims' families to relive the tragedy, Washoe County Assistant
District Attorney John Helzer said.
Ford had exhausted her state
appeals but still had federal appeals left to challenge the death
sentence, he said.
"That was such a sad case. It was
such a tragedy for so many people," Helzer said. "The fact they had to
relive that case, appeal after appeal. Her death will probably bring
some peace to those people. She should have been executed a long time
In 1995, Ford lost a state
Supreme Court bid to get her sentence eased to life without parole on
grounds she didn't get a fair trial.
Ford's lawyer had argued there
were all sorts of constitutional problems caused mainly by inadequate
legal counsel during her 6-month trial.
But prosecutors had argued there
was no basis for the appeal -- and given Ford's mental state it was
unlikely she would ever be executed anyway.
Expert medical witnesses said
Ford was suffering from a variety of mental illnesses, but prosecutors
maintained she knew the difference between right and wrong.
"She was angry that day (of the
killings) and what she did was what she attempted to do," Helzer said.
"She stayed angry and probably died angry."
The official cause of Ford's
death will be determined by the coroner, Schlottman said.
"If they think an autopsy is
warranted, they'll do one," he said, adding Ford had been a heavy
Ford's death leaves 83 men on
Nevada's death row.
Ford was a Michigan native with
an IQ of 140. A schoolteacher, she had moved to Reno from Maine about
three weeks before the rampage. She told acquaintances she went to
Reno to look for her missing daughter, Wynter Scott. Washoe County
authorities had placed the girl in a foster home in 1973 after Ford
was arrested for trespassing.
Before the 1980 crime that became
known as the "Thanksgiving Day Massacre," Ford had said "the people of
Reno will pay in death" for taking her daughter. She also told a U.S.
attorney in Maine in 1979 that she would run down pedestrians if he
did not help her get her daughter back.
In 1982, she was sentenced to
death at the conclusion of a nearly six-month trial, at the time the
longest murder trial in Nevada history. She showed no emotion when the
verdict was read.
Witnesses said Ford deliberately
struck people while driving along the gambling strip on South Virginia
Street, sending holiday strollers diving for cover.
"She came right at us; she came
right at us with a body still on the hood of the car, and she looked
like she was looking for somebody else to hit," Reno resident Marty
Edmundson said shortly after the attack.
The black Lincoln twisted street
signs, crushed newspaper vending boxes and knocked over a fire call
box. The car carried one woman on its hood the length of a city block.
The dead and injured littered the
bloody sidewalk as rescue workers frantically administered aid. Nearby
casinos remained open. Ford subsequently referred to her victims as
"beasts and pigs."
After her arrest, she told a
doctor that the voice of Joan Kennedy, then the wife of Sen. Edward
Kennedy, D-Mass., ordered her to kill. "Just run through a whole bunch
of people and kill everybody," the voice said.
She pleaded innocent by reason of
insanity and testified at her trial, where she told jurors she was "as
happy as I could possibly be" on the day of the rampage.
"I am in the state of mind that I
am in heaven," said Ford, who told jurors she was the reincarnation of
The prosecutor showed her
pictures of each of the six dead victims.
"Were you as happy as you could
be and in a heavenly state when you ran into (this person)?" he asked
"Yes," Ford replied each time in
a firm voice, appearing glum but unshaken by the photos.
She told the jury she had shown
remorse in private, but when asked if she cared about the six dead
victims, she said, "How can I care? Is there anything I can do?
Feeling good doesn't do any good for them."
Ford took the stand against the
wishes of her attorney, who called her testimony "public suicide."
Ford said she began experimenting
with marijuana in 1971 and considered it "the tree of life."
She told jurors her husband died
after their separation in 1972, one day after she told her children,
"I hope God strikes him dead."
She said she left Reno in 1973 in
an odyssey aimed at regaining custody of her daughter. Her travels
took her to Maine, Vermont and Chicago, where she quit two jobs
because she did not like black people. Ford was black.
On appeal, her attorneys
contended she was insane at the time of the slayings.
"She did not appreciate the fact
that the people she was hitting were human beings," an attorney wrote.
Reno Woman Who Killed Six With
Auto Sentenced to Die
The New York Times
March 30, 1982
A jury sentenced Priscilla
Ford to death today for killing six people as she drove through a
crowded sidewalk on Thanksgiving Day 1980.
The jury deliberated five
days before sentencing Mrs. Ford, 53 years old, to death.
The District Attorney called
Mrs. Ford ''evil personified''; her lawyer argued that she was
mentally ill. Mrs. Ford, a former teacher, was convicted March 19 on
six counts of murder and 23 of attempted murder. She had pleaded not
guilty by reason of insanity.
Despite that plea, Mrs. Ford
bristled at the suggestion that she was insane. The trial took an
unexpected turn in February when Mrs. Ford insisted on taking the
stand. She testified that she was the incarnation of Jesus and
incapable of sin.
Feb. 10, 1929 - Priscilla Ford is
born in Berren Springs, Michigan.
1957 - Ford, with only a high school
education, takes a job as teacher in a one-room school house Dowagiac,
Mich. School board officials are at first skeptical of Ford's
abilities and nervous because she is the first black teacher in the
area. But they are soon singing her praises as a gifted, caring
teacher. She keeps the job for more than seven years and earns a
bachelor's degree in education in 1966.
1970 - Family and friends report
Ford's behavior has become increasingly bizarre. She reports seeing
her dead husband across the street from her home in Buffalo, N.Y. and
talks about having the soul of Adam and Jesus Christ.
1972 - Ford's son returns from the
Army and reports she is delusional and an alcoholic.
1973 - Ford, now living in Reno,
voluntarily commits herself to the Nevada Mental Health Institute,
where she is treated and released. The diagnosis: passive-aggressive
personality with hysterical episodes.
1974 - Ford is arrested for
trespassing and is again sent for a mental health evaluation. Her
daughter, Wynter Scott, 11, is taken away by social workers and placed
in Wittenberg Hall. Ford considers her daughter a kidnapping victim.
Ford moves back to New York, where she seeks help from Catholic
Charities in Buffalo. A nun describes her as delusional.
1978 - Ford is treated at a mental
hospital in Blackfoot, Idaho.
1979 - Ford is treated at a mental
hospital in Buffalo, N.Y., where she is diagnosed with paranoid
May 1980 - Now living in Maine, Ford
asks an attorney for help in getting her daughter back. She allegedly
tells the lawyer that if she isn’t helped, she will "drive across the
state and kill every body she saw along the way."
November 1980 - Ford, en route to
San Francisco, stops in Reno to cash a check and decides to remain in
the city. She gets a temporary job as a package wrapper at Macy's.
Nov. 27, 1980 - Ford goes on a
five-block-Thanksgiving-Day-rampage in her 1974 Lincoln, killing six
people and injuring 23. Arrested at the scene, she later tells a
jailer she "did what she had to do" and that the people she hit were
"just pigs, animals let out in a wild place." She is indicted in
December on six counts of murder and 23 counts of attempted murder.
January 1981 - A judge orders that
Ford receive mental health treatment so that she will be competent for
trial. She pleads not guilty by reason of insanity in August 1981.
March 20, 1982 - A jury of seven men
and five women find Ford guilty on all counts. She is sentenced to
death on March 29 and says "I would like to be left alone to die in
peace." For the next 18 years Ford goes through appeals process while
she remains in death row in Ely, Nevada.
The day terror came downtown
Priscilla Ford’s deadly drive
By D. Brian Burghart - NewsReview.com
July 17, 2003
Reno, 1980. At around 47 degrees, it’s a warm
Thursday in November. It’s 2:57 in the afternoon. This isn’t just any
Thursday; it’s Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27. People are milling along
casino row. Perhaps because of the mild weather, there are more
tourists than usual here during the tail end of a national recession.
Ronald Reagan was elected president weeks prior. There are 54 American
hostages held in Iran.
Does a feeling of portent arise? This scene is
moments away from inscription onto the pages of Reno history. A
heinous act will occur on this spot in a matter of moments—an act
that, while suspended in that bygone second in time, will live on more
than two decades later. The person who will perpetrate the act, while
undoubtedly in possession of a diseased mind, will be prosecuted to
the gates of—but possibly evade—the ultimate punishment of death. The
issues raised by the murders, trial and appeals will be evoked every
time a name like David Berkowitz, John Hinckley Jr. or Andrea Yates
arises in the national consciousness.
In this quarter-century old landscape, Reno is a
different town. Fewer towering buildings decorate the skyline. The
slate crosswalks downtown aren’t yet conceived, nor are the purple
flower boxes and trash cans that will give Virginia Street an
effervescent character. A time traveler would likely hear the sounds
of Kenny Rogers’ saccharine “Lady” or Blondie’s “Call Me” from a
passing car radio.
Competing with street sounds are the mechanical
jingling, clinking and ringing slot machines. The noises from the slot
machines are from metal striking metal, not the electronic keening
that will come with advances in technology. The smell of the Club
Cal-Neva’s Thanksgiving special—roast turkey or baked ham with
vegetables, roll and butter, $3.95—wafts in the air. Those planning
Christmas shopping are more likely to come downtown or to Park Lane
Mall than to J.C. Penney at Meadowood Mall, which has yet to become
the area’s shopping mecca.
Standing at the Virginia Street corner of the Club
Cal-Neva on East Second Street and looking north, a time traveler sees
a First National Bank across the street. Down the block, a man in
sandwich boards advertises a local strip club. Harrah’s much less
ostentatious casino neighbors the bank to the north; then stands the
Nevada Club, then Harold’s Club, then Douglas Alley. The Reno Arch is
the version with two pylons suspending a frowning arc that holds four
octagons each with a letter spelling out R-E-N-O. Below is a smiling
arc that proclaims “THE BIGGEST LITTLE CITY IN THE WORLD.”
Sixty seconds pass. The sandwich board man ambles a
bit farther toward the university. Three o’clock must signal a change
in shift for some of these casinos, as the demeanor of the crowd
changes momentarily, and a smattering of black-and-whites joins the
usual street-corner drunks, who clutch free-drink tokes, and older
tourists shaking plastic change cups, some brimming, some without
enough coins to make a noise.
To the south, past the Truckee River and hidden by
a curve and the hill that rises to Liberty Street, a 6-year-old, blue
Lincoln Continental heads north on Virginia Street. Death is behind
the wheel. In this incarnation, Death takes the form of one Priscilla
Joyce Ford. She wears a black cape. She turned 51 nine months earlier
on Feb. 10. Even though she’s a little buzzed, she’s made it all the
way from her home near Meadowood Mall. She doesn’t think she’s Death,
though. She thinks she’s Jesus Christ or Eve’s husband, Adam, or a
19th-century Seventh-day Adventist prophetess. Or the Holy Spirit who
is, in her belief system, the feminine aspect of the Trinity.
Ford is a 5-feet-4-inches-tall black woman. She
weighs 125 pounds and has brown eyes and shoulder-length hair combed
back. She had crackers and Emerald Dry Wine before leaving on her
errand. Her blood-alcohol ratio is .162. That’s too drunk to be
driving legally, but many a barfly has made it home with higher.
It takes another minute for the Lincoln to
make its way to 100 feet south of the southeast corner of Second and
Virginia streets. At 2:59 p.m., the Lincoln jumps the curb and careens
down the sidewalk. It hits the curb at about 20 miles an hour, a speed
not likely to blow the tires. The car rapidly accelerates to as high
as 40 miles an hour, driving 100 feet down the sidewalk, witnesses
will later say. It crosses the Second Street crosswalk and continues
another 322 feet down the sidewalk in front of the bank, in front of
Harrah’s, Nevada Club and Harold’s Club. Then it’s back on Virginia
Street, crossing to the southbound lane and stopping two blocks later
behind traffic at the Fifth Street traffic light. The light is red.
Destruction follows the car’s path like an
indictment. Five people are killed immediately, and 24 are injured.
Fourteen people will be sent to Washoe Medical Center; the remaining
10 to St. Mary’s. Street signs, body parts, clothing and the wounded
and dead lie on the sidewalk and in the gutter like victims of a
natural disaster. But this is an entirely unnatural disaster.
It takes only a few seconds for Ford to drive that
five-block total. For the victims, every second following the attack
is an eternity, waiting for help to arrive, for family members to
come, for the news of survivors and casualties. But the longest wait,
some will later say, is for justice.
The two daily newspapers, the Nevada State Journal
and the Reno Evening Gazette, contain chilling accounts of the
killings in progress.
“It looked as though someone had gone through the
streets with a lawnmower, mowing people down,” a woman from Canada
who’d witnessed the massacre from the Onslow Hotel-Casino tells the
Gazette. “It looked like a battlefield—there were bodies all over the
Marty Edmondson of Reno offers a chilling view of
the car as former schoolteacher Ford sped onto the pages of Nevada’s
list of most infamous mass murderers.
“She came right at us, she came right at us with a
body still on the hood of the car, and she looked like she was looking
for somebody else to hit.”
Priscilla Ford doesn’t resist when police remove
her from the car. She is mad, though.
John Oakes is the deputy district attorney on call
“I was dispatched down to a hit and run,” he says.
“I thought they were kidding me; it’s Thanksgiving. I got downtown,
and it was a fucking war zone. There were bodies and shit everywhere.
It was carnage. People were crying, and ambulances were responding. It
was a cluster-fuck.”
Later, Oakes is told to keep an eye on Ford.
“There was a trauma center set up down at Washoe
Med, and we had the victims coming in crying and screaming. Family
members crying and screaming. She was right next door. An officer and
I were directed to maintain security because a lot of people wanted to
Oakes spends around five hours in the company of
the killer. He says the most remarkable thing about her was her
calmness—mixed with callousness.
“She looked at me point-blank and said, ‘How many
people did I kill?’ I said, ‘Five or six.’ She said, ‘Good.’ She was
very placid. Like just another day. Very matter of fact. Very
matronly, motherly. She was acting self-righteous, like she was
justified in what she did. We couldn’t figure out why at the time.
“What’s the first defense of anybody who creates
this kind of carnage? ‘Only a crazy person would do something like
that.’ I got down to RPD before she was brought into booking, and I
had them set up the video. [Video technology was new in Reno.] So we
could see on tape exactly how lucid she was. She knew who she was and
where she was; that tape was worth its weight in gold.”
The trial would not begin for a year. On
Jan. 29, 1981, Ford was found incompetent to stand trial and sent to
Lake’s Crossing for mental treatment. On April 29, 1981, she was
ordered to submit to treatment, including drug therapy. Finally, on
Aug. 4, 1981, she was found competent for trial.
The trial began on Nov. 12, 1981, and would last
nearly five months—making it, at that time, the longest and most
expensive in Reno history. There was little doubt as to whether Ford
drove the murder car. There were dozens upon dozens of witnesses to
the act. The community’s heart poured out to the injured and killed.
There was no lack of voices calling for blood or vengeance.
All that was missing was a motive—one that the
community could understand. Of the several motives offered, it seemed
each one was crazier than the last, or at least just as unfounded in
reality. As details about the woman’s life became clearer, the primary
issue in the murder trial—Ford’s ability to recognize the difference
between right and wrong—became murkier.
The characters in the courtroom drama were almost
clichés. At one table, the community’s voice of retribution, District
Attorney Cal Dunlap. He declared early on that he wanted to see Ford’s
end in Nevada’s gas chamber. (The 1983 Nevada Legislature would change
the method of execution to lethal injection.) At the other, Public
Defender Lew Carnahan. The combatants were seconded by police,
doctors, witnesses to the act and eventually by Ford’s family and
Ford was charged with six counts of murder and 23
counts of attempted murder. Seven people had died of injuries suffered
in the attack, but due to the issues involved in changing the murder
indictment, she was charged with only six.
Ford’s plea was also expected: not guilty by reason
of insanity. It’s a desperation defense that rarely succeeds. Still,
wags would say that she’d have to be crazy not to try the insanity
defense. Years later, the Nevada Supreme Court would agree with the
“The more dead, the better,” a police officer
quoted Ford as saying as she waited for tests to determine her blood’s
alcohol or drug content at Washoe Medical Center. That was in the
early days of the trial. “I deliberately planned to get as many as
possible. A Lincoln Continental can do a lot of damage, can’t it?”
Later the officer testified Ford said, “I am a New York teacher. I’m
tired of life. I want attention, I’m sick of problems. In June 1980, a
voice told me to drive through a crowd at a theater and kill as many
as possible. But another voice said she’s too much of a lady to do
That voice was Joan Kennedy’s. That would be Joan
Kennedy, wife to Sen. Edward Kennedy. The voice that counseled her
against the mass slaughter was a nationally famous attorney. These
celebrity relationships existed only in Ford’s head.
The accused had a few associations with fame,
although they were also related to Ford’s mental deficiencies. She had
an unusual fixation on Barbara Walters and thought Walters was a
beast. She wrote to Dear Abby. In 1978, she unsuccessfully sued the
leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints for a half a billion dollars. She called
herself “America’s only authorized divinity,” which would be funny if
she hadn’t been deadly serious.
Ford’s story evolved from almost the first moments
after the crime. She claimed to a psychiatrist that Reno child welfare
officials had stolen her 11-year-old daughter, Wynter Scott, seven
years before, and so she committed the murders to get attention so
that she could get some help finding her daughter.
It was true that officials had taken her daughter
after Ford had been arrested for trespassing and assault, but they’d
been trying to contact the drifter, Ford, to tell her the child’s
whereabouts for years. Still, vengeance for the loss of a daughter was
a motive people could understand. The problem is that other testimony
showed she’d known her daughter’s location, in Los Angeles with
relatives, for some time. Later, she claimed the car had suffered some
kind of mechanical malfunction. It seems a person would have to be
crazy to change stories with the knowledge that the earlier stories
had been widely reported in court and in the newspapers.
Throughout the months leading up to the trial, and
interspersed in the trial, were the testimonies of expert medical
witnesses who said Ford was suffering from a variety of mental
illnesses—including paranoid schizophrenia with religious delusions
and paranoid psychosis. According to newspaper reports, she’d been
diagnosed as mentally unstable since as early as 1973, when she was
diagnosed as having a passive-aggressive personality with hysterical
episodes. (Perhaps the fact that she shot her second husband and then
herself in 1957 might have given medical officials pause. No charges
were filed in the self-defense shooting.) The only opinion experts
didn’t express was that Ford was faking it.
Dunlap wasn’t convinced, though, calling the
insanity defense a sham. But the biggest dispute at trial boiled down
to whether Ford knew it was wrong for her to hurt and kill those
people on Virginia Street on Thanksgiving Day in 1980.
At various times in the trial, Ford was ruled
competent and then incompetent to stand trial, understand the charges
against her or to assist her lawyers in her own defense. The
prosecution argued that medication made her competent, and the court
agreed. Of course, it seemed once she was competent for trial, she was
also competent to decide whether she wanted to be medicated, but that
argument was quickly squashed with a new motion from prosecutor
The competency issue was in part muddled by the
fact that a person doesn’t necessarily have to be sane to be competent
enough to stand trial. And the Nevada insanity standard, known as the
M’Naughten Rule, doesn’t say that competence to stand trial proves
sanity or insanity at the moment the crime was committed.
With all the legal maneuverings, it seemed the
doctors and lawyers would be the stars of the show. That was true
until Ford took the stand in her own defense. During the subsequent
five days, she made such claims as that she was the spirit of Jesus
Christ, the Holy Spirit and Adam reincarnate.
“I am human,” she testified. “And I am divine. I
don’t like it any more than anyone else does. I don’t want to be
The only person whose non-credentialed testimony
seemed to have as much impact was the testimony of Wynter Scott, the
daughter Ford claimed had been abducted by child welfare officials.
Scott told of her youth with Ford. Among other things, Ford taught her
daughter how to smoke marijuana at the age of 9. At various times,
Ford had discussed her belief in her own divinity and had suggested
plans to have Scott artificially inseminated in order to bring another
messiah, through virgin birth, into the world.
“She talked about Jesus Christ, about her being
Jesus Christ, about me being Jesus Christ,” the Reno Evening Gazette
reported Scott’s testimony. “She talked to my aunt about me being
artificially inseminated to bear Jesus Christ.”
The seven-woman, five-man jury only took 13 hours
of deliberation to find Ford guilty of murdering six people and
attempting to murder 23 others. All that was left for the jury to
decide was whether she would be put to death in the gas chamber or
receive life with or without the possibility of parole.
It took nine more days, to March 28, 1982, for the
verdict: death in Nevada’s gas chamber.
But that was just the beginning of a new
chapter for Priscilla Ford.
More than 21 years later, defense attorney Lew
Carnahan says the case was a difficult time for him, that in some
ways, he’d prefer to forget.
“My firm belief was that she was legally insane,
even under the strict M’Naughten Test,” Carnahan said. “If the jury
had found the facts as I believe they existed, she would be in a
mental hospital, not in a prison. I certainly respect the jury and
their efforts, but I think they made a wrong decision in their
interpretation of the facts. I think she should have been found not
guilty by reason of insanity and placed in a secure facility, such as
Lake’s Crossing. I believe she would have been there for the rest of
Although she immediately disputed the insanity
plea, claiming sanity, and said she wanted “to be left alone to die in
peace,” state law mandates a review of the death sentence.
The 21st anniversary of her first assigned end in
the gas chamber passed unnoted Saturday, July 12. In 1986, her
conviction was upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court, but in a footnote
to the opinion, the court called into question the justice of the
“Notwithstanding our disposition of this appeal, we
do not perceive this case to be among the brightest stars in the
judicial firmament. The senseless nature of Mrs. Ford’s conduct,
coupled with her troubled and poignant history as wife and mother,
lead us to conclude that the better course would have been a
negotiated resolution assuring society of the defendant’s permanent
sequestration. Such a resolution would have been just considering the
ambivalent nuances of her mental condition and the unrelenting
obsession of a mother deprived of her child that haunted her life for
many years prior to her unfocused act of vengeance.”
The justices also wrote that by April 8, 1986,
excluding the district attorney’s fees, public defender’s fees,
judicial salaries, judicial support staff salaries and some commitment
of facilities, Ford’s direct trial costs totaled $274,494.
Dunlap says even if he knew then what he knows now,
he would not have changed his efforts to get Ford sentenced to death.
“The reason I went for the punishment I went for
wasn’t because I thought she would ever be put to death,” he said. “It
was the best way that I knew how to assure that she would never hurt
anybody else. In those days, and since then, the mental health people
have let people go, and the parole people have let people go, people
who have killed again—they shouldn’t have been let go. People who have
the death penalty to deal with don’t get out at all or they get out a
whole lot later than those who are convicted of first-degree murder
without the death penalty.”
To date, due to sanity hearings and death penalty
appeals, Ford has missed more than five court-appointed dates with the
executioner, and many people, including prosecutor Dunlap, doubt
she’ll ever be put to death.
Supreme Court of Nevada
FORD v. STATE
Priscilla FORD, Appellant,
The STATE of Nevada, Respondent.
717 P.2d 27 (1986)
April 8, 1986.
David G. Parraguirre, Public Defender, Lew
Carnahan, Jane McKenna, Mark Mausert, Deputy Public Defenders, Reno,
Brian McKay, Atty. Gen., Carson City, Mills Lane, Dist. Atty., and
Gregory Shannon, Deputy Dist. Atty., Calvin R.X. Dunlap, Reno, for
November 27, 1980 was a fateful Thanksgiving Day in
the State of Nevada. Defendant below, Priscilla Ford, drove her
mechanically sound 1974 Lincoln Continental automobile onto a crowded
sidewalk in downtown Reno. The resulting carnage included six dead and
twenty-three injured.1 After a jury selection process of nearly a
month's duration, trial commenced on November 12, 1981, and concluded
over four months later with the jury convicting Mrs. Ford of six
counts of first degree murder and twenty-three counts of attempted
murder. Subsequently, the penalty phase of the trial resulted in
sentences of death on the six murder convictions and consecutive
sentences of twenty years imprisonment on each of the twenty-three
convictions for attempted murder. Mrs. Ford unsuccessfully appeals
from her convictions and sentences as we have determined that she was
fairly tried and sentenced.
Mrs. Ford was arrested at the scene. Almost
immediately her mental competence became a matter of focused concern.
A series of psychiatric evaluations prompted by a defense motion for
psychiatric examination culminated in a determination by the district
court that Mrs. Ford was not competent to stand trial. After a period
of treatment at Lake's Crossing that included a court-authorized,
defense-resisted regimen of anti-psychotic drug therapy, the district
court ordered a sanity commission consisting of three psychiatrists to
examine Mrs. Ford. As a result of the commission's findings, the
district court concluded that Mrs. Ford was mentally competent to
Several weeks prior to trial, defense counsel again
moved the trial court for a psychiatric examination of the defendant.
After the judge refused to hear the motion in chambers, defense
counsel withdrew the motion. Later, when Mrs. Ford insisted on
testifying, against her counsel's advice, counsel asked the court to
refuse her the right to testify or order a psychiatric examination. At
the time of Mrs. Ford's sentencing, defense counsel sought again to
have the defendant evaluated by psychiatrists. The trial court denied
On May 19, 1982, Mrs. Ford filed a declaration of
waiver of appeal here in the Nevada Supreme Court. We ordered the
district court to canvass the defendant for purposes of determining
her competence to waive her right of appeal. The trial court, refusing
the prosecutor's request for a psychiatric evaluation, determined that
[ 717 P.2d 29 ]
Ford had knowingly and intelligently waived her
right to appellate review. We were unconvinced and directed the
district court to appoint a panel of three psychiatrists to examine
Mrs. Ford to determine whether she was, indeed, competent to waive a
right of such magnitude and consequence. The panel unanimously found
that Mrs. Ford was not mentally competent to rationally elect to
forego her right of appeal. We therefore rejected her attempted waiver
and this appeal ensued.
Issues on Appeal
Four issues were raised on appeal as a basis for
relief from defendant's convictions and sentences. Considered
individually or collectively, the issues do not justify interfering
with the product of the jury's deliberations over the protracted
course of defendant's trial.
I. The Guilt Phase
Change of Venue
Mrs. Ford challenges the trial court's ruling
denying her motion for a change of venue. The trial court did not err.
In view of the pathos and fury permeating the
Thanksgiving Day disaster, it is not difficult to appreciate the
extent of media attention it received. Nevertheless, considerations
compelling a venue change are not necessarily coextensive with the
degree and nature of media coverage accorded the underlying criminal
act. The preeminent issue in a motion seeking a transfer of trial site
is whether the ambiance of the place of the forum has been so
thoroughly perverted that the constitutional imperative of a fair and
impartial panel of jurors has been unattainable. Kaplan v. State, 96
Nev. 798, 618 P.2d 354 (1980). The net concern of a criminal defendant
is whether the community hosting the trial will yield a jury qualified
to deliberate impartially and upon competent trial evidence, the guilt
or innocence of the accused. This, of course, implicates the jury
selection process and explains why a motion for a change of venue must
be presented to the court after voir dire of the venire. NRS 174.455.
We have previously validated the tenet that an
ignorant jury is neither the hallmark nor the sine qua non of a
constitutionally qualified jury in today's society. See, e.g., Gallego
v. State, 101 Nev. 782, 711 P.2d 856 (1985); cf. Irvin v. Dowd,366
U.S. 717, 81 S.Ct. 1639, 6 L.Ed.2d 751 (1961). It is clear on the
record that virtually every juror had some pretrial awareness of the
facts surrounding the incident on Thanksgiving Day. In support of the
motion for venue change, defense counsel produced sixty-six newspaper
articles pertaining to the Ford incident.2 Additionally, attention was
drawn to the extensive publicity that occurred via television and
radio. In short, defendant's criminal conduct on Thanksgiving Day,
1980, expectedly precipitated pervasive news coverage that undoubtedly
reached a high percentage of Nevada residents, both in Reno and
elsewhere throughout the State.3
Venue determinations are committed to the sound
discretion of the trial judge and will remain undisturbed on appeal
absent a clear demonstration of an abuse of discretion. Cutler v.
State, 93 Nev. 329,
[ 717 P.2d 30 ]
566 P.2d 809 (1977). Appellant has presented no
such demonstration here. The trial judge pondered the nature and scope
of the pretrial publicity surrounding the circumstances of this case
and rightfully concluded that the totality thereof did not corrupt the
trial atmosphere to the point of precluding a fair trial by an
impartial jury. The pretrial publicity of the nuances of the holiday
tragedy, its victims and perpetrator, could hardly be described as a
monolithic condemnation of Mrs. Ford. Segments of reports were devoted
to her history of mental illness and her claim of accident. Reports of
her mental history or condition did not appear to be exaggerated or
discounted. Moreover, given the fact that Mrs. Ford was indisputably
behind the wheel of the death car, it was noteworthy that virtually
all of the pretrial publicity was free of rhetoric ascribing legal
guilt to Mrs. Ford. Both the seemingly senseless nature of the
catastrophe and the speculation concerning Mrs. Ford's mental history
and condition may have actually benefited defendant since her only
plausible defense at trial was that of insanity.4
Finally, the record reveals that the lengthy
sifting process in the individual voir dire of the venire produced a
trial-worthy jury. It is true that numerous veniremen were unsuited
for jury service because of irredeemable prejudice, but that fact
alone was not dispositive on the issue of venue. Moreover, given the
uncontested involvement of Mrs. Ford in the calamity of Thanksgiving
Day, it was significant that no venireman was asked whether he or she
had formed an opinion as to Mrs. Ford's guilt under the law based upon
her mental condition at the time of the incident. Since the question
was not posed, the record reflects no instances where prospective
jurors not discharged for cause admitted harboring preconceived
opinions of the defendant's mental state or legal culpability at the
time of the disaster. Most importantly, the trial judge, who witnessed
the demeanor and apparent sincerity of the jurors at great length,
accepted the declaration of each that he or she would forsake any
opinion and follow the law and the evidence as presented during trial.
Also, each juror expressed a willingness to entertain a sentence other
than death in the event of a guilty verdict. Although defendant
characterizes the aforementioned commitments as coached responses to
improper importunings by the trial judge, we conclude to the contrary.
The trial judge displayed great patience and concern in the process of
selecting a jury panel genuinely committed to constitutional attitudes
In Gallego v. State, supra, we said:
Given the realities of our age, it is unlikely that
a high-profile criminal defendant will be presented with a venire of
uninformed individuals from which to select a jury. Indeed, it is
conceded by many jurists that such a panel would least likely provide
the considered, enlightened judgment that can best serve the demands
of trial. As a result, courts abide by the following standards:
To hold that the mere existence of any preconceived
notion as to the guilt or innocence of an accused without more, is
sufficient to rebut the presumption of a prospective juror's
impartiality would be to establish an impossible standard. It is
sufficient if the juror can lay aside his impression or opinion and
render a verdict based on the evidence presented in court.
Murphy v. Florida, 421 U.S. 794, 95 S.Ct. 2031, 44
L.Ed.2d 589 (1975), quoting Irvin v. Dowd, supra 366 U.S. at 723, 81
S.Ct. at 1642-1643.
The trial judge determined that the ranks of the
venire produced a jury composed of
[ 717 P.2d 31 ]
men and women legally qualified to serve as jurors
in defendant's trial. We discern no basis for holding otherwise. The
trial court did not err in denying the motion for a change of venue.
Challenges for Cause
Defendant contends that several prospective jurors
never should have survived challenges for cause. The gravamen of this
issue is that a number of veniremen presented no reliable evidence of
impartiality, having merely parroted the symbols of impartiality
orchestrated by the trial judge. A thorough examination of the record
repels such a characterization of the unsuccessfully challenged
It is true that firm commitments of impartiality
were often delayed because of vacillations stemming from several
factors, not the least of which were the form and nature of questions
posed by defense counsel. The latter aspect of the problem included
such questions as: (1) "As you sit there right now and look over at
Mrs. Ford, do you see her as an innocent person in all honesty?" (of
course, the response was "no") and (2) "Do you think you are the kind
of person that might have made the statement Whoever would do
something like that ought to be taken out and shot?" (the response was
"right"). Other questions pertained to the unascertainable attitude of
a man's subconscious mind and the comparison between a venireman's
experiences in Viet Nam and the incident on Thanksgiving Day. In
reviewing the very lengthy voir dire of the venire, at least four
factors are clear. First, Mrs. Ford engaged in tragic, sensational
behavior on Thanksgiving Day that resulted in pervasive news coverage
of an event that naturally elicited strong feelings among informed,
normal, humane elements of the community, state and national populace.
Second, the passage of time and considerations beyond the immediate
horror of the incident produced an attenuation of feelings among the
venire. Third, given the fact that Mrs. Ford was concededly behind the
wheel of the implement of death and injury, preconceived general
opinions of guilt should not have been unexpected. The key question,
never posed, was whether members of the venire had formed concrete
opinions of the defendant's legal guilt based upon conclusions
regarding her mental competence. It must be emphasized that the only
credible defense raised to the crimes charged against Mrs. Ford was
that of innocence by reason of insanity. Any venire in the country,
thus informed of Mrs. Ford's involvement, could have responded
affirmatively, in one voice, to a general question of Mrs. Ford's
guilt. The difficult issue was deciding whether jurors so informed
would nevertheless fairly and impartially decide whether Mrs. Ford was
guilty or innocent under the law based solely on the evidence produced
at trial, including that evidence relating to her insanity defense.
All jurors ultimately selected convinced the trial judge of their
suitability under the constraints inherent in the latter issue.
Fourth, individual responses to counsel and ultimately the presiding
judge reflected unconditioned attitudes and commitments upon which the
judge could properly base his decision regarding challenges for cause.
In brief, we do not find on this record persuasive evidence of
judicial brainwashing. Nor do we perceive error in the district
court's rulings on this issue, including an ancillary ruling denying
defendant's request for additional peremptory challenges not provided
by statute. See Gallego v. State, supra.
Defendant advances the dubious proposition that in
spite of defense counsel's failure to recognize the need for a
competency hearing throughout most of the trial, the district court,
sua sponte, should have ordered such a hearing. Defendant's contention
The United States Supreme Court has declared the
conviction of a criminal defendant while mentally incompetent a
[ 717 P.2d 32 ]
of due process. Pate v. Robinson,383 U.S. 375, 86
S.Ct. 836, 15 L.Ed.2d 815 (1966). Moreover, we have held that a
competency hearing is required when reasonable doubt exists on the
issue. Melchor-Gloria v. State, 99 Nev. 174, 660 P.2d 109 (1983).
In the instant case, trial was scheduled after Mrs.
Ford had been evaluated by a panel of psychiatrists and declared
mentally competent to stand trial by the trial judge. Thereafter, the
issue of mental competence did not arise until a few weeks before
trial when defense counsel requested another psychiatric examination
of the defendant. Inexplicably, the request was withdrawn when the
judge refused to hear the motion in chambers. The motion was never
formally renewed by defense counsel throughout the period of trial. We
also note that this Court sustained defendant's objection to the
continuation of mandatory ingestion of anti-psychotic medication
during trial, and granted mandamus directing the district court to
vacate its order enforcing the administration of such drugs to Mrs.
Ford. See Ford v. District Court, 97 Nev. 578, 635 P.2d 578 (1981).
Our decision denying the State the right to impose continued
anti-psychotic drug therapy on the protesting defendant was based upon
the fact that Mrs. Ford had been determined to be mentally competent
to stand trial and was thus outside the purview of Nevada's statutes
mandating detention and psychiatric treatment. Id. at pp. 579-80, 635
P.2d 578. Moreover, the finding of mental competence remained
essentially free of challenge throughout the pretrial and trial
Defendant contends that her trial behavior should
have alerted the trial judge to the fact that her mental competence
was reasonably in doubt. In support of this contention, we are
directed to the lengthy trial testimony by both lay and expert
witnesses, describing her history of aberrational behavior, mental
disorders and institutional observation. Defendant also refers us to
her insistence in taking the witness stand against the solemn advice
of her counsel and the substance of her trial testimony. While Mrs.
Ford's history reflects the hardships of a troubled person, it would
be difficult to characterize that history in unequivocal terms. In any
event, the historical testimony of Mrs. Ford's trials and tribulations
related to periods substantially remote in time from the period in
issue. Moreover, defense counsel is unpersuasive in raising
defendant's insistence in testifying as evidence of mental
incompetence. The trial judge examined Mrs. Ford regarding her desire
to testify and found her responses consistent with those of an
understanding, mentally competent person. Our reading of the record
confirms the judgment of the trial judge in concluding that Mrs. Ford
was competent and that there was no basis for any further hearing on
that subject. On balance, the trial testimony given by the defendant
likewise vindicates the district court's perception of her mental
state.6 As indicated previously, defendant's
[ 717 P.2d 33 ]
counsel apparently considered her to be competent
until she insisted on disregarding his advice against testifying.
The trial judge had the opportunity to evaluate
Mrs. Ford's demeanor and the substance of her testimony during the
course of a lengthy trial. At no time did the judge find cause to
question defendant's competence. In reviewing the record, we are not
persuaded that the district court abused its discretion in not
ordering a psychiatric examination of the defendant during trial.
Defendant nevertheless points to this Court's
determination that she was incompetent to waive her right of appeal as
evidence of incompetence during trial. This contention is also without
merit. Priscilla Ford's trial concluded in March, 1982. We declared
her incompetent to waive her right of appellate review some twenty-one
months later, in December, 1983. Considering the impact of a death
sentence and her long-discontinued drug therapy, it is strongly
possible, if not probable, that Mrs. Ford reached a level of
incompetence during the lengthy interim between trial and our
decision. Moreover, this Court's determination was a product of both a
unified opinion of three psychiatrists and our concern that the vital
right of review not be denied a defendant sentenced to death where
evidence of the capacity to knowingly and intelligently waive that
right was not clearly and convincingly demonstrated. In other words,
we resolved the benefit of all doubt against waiver.
Validating Guilt Under M'Naghten Rule
Defendant argues that the trial evidence
conclusively negated the presumption of Mrs. Ford's sanity at the time
of the offenses, thereby precluding consideration of the issue as a
jury question. We disagree.
Under Nevada law, insanity is an affirmative
defense which the presumedly sane defendant must prove by a
preponderance of the evidence. Clark v. State, 95 Nev. 24, 588 P.2d
1027 (1979). The presumption of sanity operates most critically, of
course, at the time the offense is committed. See, e.g., Ybarra v.
State, 100 Nev. 167, 679 P.2d 797 (1984); State v. Hartley,90 N.M.
488, 565 P.2d 658 (1977); State v. Roadenbaugh,234 Kan. 474, 673 P.2d
1166 (1983); State v. Romero,684 P.2d 643 (Utah 1984); State v.
Crenshaw,98 Wn.2d 789, 659 P.2d 488 (1983). This Court has long
adhered to the rule in M'Naghten's case as the test for criminal
responsibility for the commission of an offense which, absent the
requisite mental incapacity, constitutes a criminal act. Briefly
stated, M'Naghten's rule provides:
[I]f the defendant have capacity and reason
sufficient to enable him to distinguish right from wrong as to the
particular act in question, and has knowledge and consciousness that
the act he is doing is wrong, and will deserve punishment, he is in
the eye of the law, of sound mind and memory, and should be held
responsible for his acts... .
State v. Lewis, 20 Nev. 333, 351, 22 P. 241 (1889);
Criswell v. State, 84 Nev. 459, 463, 443 P.2d 552 (1968). Focusing on
defendant's contention, it is apparent that the effect of the
presumption of sanity may be negated only if: (1) the basic facts are
unsupported by substantial evidence; (2) the basic facts are not
otherwise established; or (3) the "evidence as a whole negatives the
existence of the presumed fact." NRS 47.230(2). The presumption of
sanity is not rebutted merely by a history of prior institutional
commitments or diagnoses of mental deficiency or derangement. Legal
insanity is not circumscribed in meaning or purpose by medical
criteria concerning human psychosis. State v. Crenshaw, supra at 491,
495, 443 P.2d 552.
[ 717 P.2d 34 ]
As noted previously, evidence reflected the fact
that Mrs. Ford has exhibited the attitudes and behavior of a troubled
person over a prolonged period of years. Her life's experiences also
proved her to be intelligent and resourceful, if not devious. On those
few occasions, remote in time from the offenses here considered, when
Mrs. Ford was institutionalized her periods of commitment were brief
and uneventful. She functioned resourcefully in society and seemingly
had little difficulty securing employment. In any event, the extent,
if not the existence, of mental deficiencies in Mrs. Ford was sharply
disputed by trial experts and lay witnesses. There was ample evidence
for the district court to conclude that the issue of the defendant's
mental capacity at the time of the Thanksgiving Day offenses should be
decided by the trier of fact. A review of the record does not reveal
error by the trial court in submitting this issue to the jury.
II. The Penalty Phase
Defendant has not challenged the legal propriety of
her sentences. It is nevertheless incumbent on this Court to review
the ultimate sentence given to Mrs. Ford and determine its
applicability under Nevada law as it existed at the time of her
criminal conduct.7 We are therefore enjoined to determine whether (1)
the evidence supports the finding of aggravating circumstances; (2)
the death sentence was imposed under the influence of passion,
prejudice, or any arbitrary factor; and (3) the sentence of death is
excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases
in the State, considering both the crime and the defendant.
The jury found two statutorily defined, aggravating
circumstances present in the commission of defendant's criminal acts:
(1) The murder was committed by a person who knowingly created a great
risk of death to more than one person by means of a weapon, device or
course of action which would normally be hazardous to the lives of
more than one person; and (2) the murder was committed upon one or
more persons at random and without apparent motive. The jury specified
that the two aggravating circumstances existed with respect to each of
the six counts of murder and that there were no mitigating
circumstances sufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstances.
The jury then proceeded to fix the penalty at death. The record
provides substantial evidential support for the jury's findings.
Similarly, the record reveals no evidence undermining the jury's
verdict by reason of the influence of passion, prejudice, or any
Finally, we conclude that defendant's sentence of
death is not excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in
similar cases in this State, considering both the crime and the
defendant.8 Since the
[ 717 P.2d 35 ]
jury determined that Mrs. Ford was legally guilty
of the crimes charged against her, thereby negating the defense of
innocence by reason of insanity, it is not for this Court to diminish
her punishment because of a conflict in the evidence regarding
defendant's mental deficiencies. Suffice it to say that a jury
consisting of impartial, fairminded people could reasonably have
concluded, on the basis of competent trial evidence, that defendant
never proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the presumption
of sanity was rebutted. In every other respect, defendant's sentence
is proportionate to other death sentences imposed on Nevada
defendants. See, e.g., Wilson v. State, 101 Nev. 452, 705 P.2d 151
(1985); Gallego v. State, supra; Bishop v. State, 95 Nev. 511, 597
P.2d 273 (1979); Rogers v. State, 101 Nev. 457, 705 P.2d 664 (1985);
Miranda v. State, 101 Nev. 562, 707 P.2d 1121 (1985).
We have carefully examined the other nuances
involved in the issues raised by defendant and conclude that they
provide no basis for relief.
Having concluded that Mrs. Ford was fairly tried,
convicted and sentenced, we affirm in all respects the judgment of
conviction and sentences imposed thereon.9
GUNDERSON and YOUNG, JJ., and WENDELL10 and
ROBISON,11 District Judges, concur.
1. Actually seven persons ultimately died as a
result of impact with the vehicle driven by the defendant. The State
elected not to amend the information as it existed at the time of
trial. The murder counts therefore remained at six.
2. The newspaper articles appeared in the Nevada
State Journal, Reno Evening Gazette and Reno Gazette Journal,
newspapers having circulation in the Reno area. Although reference was
on occasion found among the articles to "Thanksgiving Day Massacre,"
the "death car" and analogies to a "battlefield," it is to the media's
credit that most of the reporting could be appropriately characterized
as informative, restrained, non-inflammatory and even-handed. One
article covering the memorial service for the victims referred to
remembering the defendant with understanding rather than bitterness or
outrage. Other articles addressed defendant's claim of accident and
her questionable mental capacity. In sum, the pre-trial publicity
attending this incident of such high public interest could not be
accurately termed uniformly detrimental to Mrs. Ford by any means.
3. The defense commissioned a survey involving a
telephone poll of some 380 persons in the Reno area. This patently
unscientific exercise did reveal that 97 per cent of the people
contacted were aware of the incident.
4. Defendant also proceeded through trial under a
secondary theory of accident. This theory was of slight consequence
considering the unrefuted evidence of the mechanically sound condition
of the vehicle and such declarations and admissions by the defendant
as: "I will get you honkies," "I deliberately planned to get as many
as possible. A Lincoln Continental can do a whole lot of damage, can't
it?," "How many did I get?," "The more dead the better. Give the
mortuaries the business. That's the American way. Did I get 50? How
many did I get? I hope 75."
5. During the latter stages of trial, defense
counsel informed the trial judge that his client intended to take the
stand contrary to his advice. Defense counsel contended that
defendant's decision to take the stand was untimely and urged the
court to deny her the opportunity to testify. Alternatively, counsel
requested that Mrs. Ford receive a psychiatric examination. The trial
judge recognized the constitutional right of the defendant to testify
on her own behalf, Alicea v. Gagnon,675 F.2d 913 (7th Cir.1982), and
that a denial of the right to so testify, even against her attorney's
advice, is reversible error. Ingle v. State, 92 Nev. 104, 546 P.2d 598
(1976). Nevertheless, the judge carefully canvassed Mrs. Ford
concerning her understanding of the consequences involved in taking
the stand prior to denying the relief sought by counsel. Counsel's
secondary request for a psychiatric evaluation of his client was made
without specifications of incompetence. In any event, the judge was
satisfied that Mrs. Ford had remained competent throughout trial to
6. While certain segments of the defendant's
testimony may be described as somewhat bizarre, it is doubtful that
they could be safely characterized as the unmistakable outpourings of
a psychotic mind. For instance, given Mrs. Ford's views on religion
and spirit matters, it is not altogether clear, as claimed by defense
counsel, that she considered herself to be the solitary embodiment of
Christ and the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the articulate defendant also
displayed the mind of one who is decidedly above average in
intelligence. In any event, it is important to remember that the jury
had extensive exposure to Mrs. Ford throughout trial and, considering
the defendant's testimony and the conflicting views of the trial
experts, determined that she satisfied the applicable law concerning
the standard of competence to commit a criminal act.
7. NRS 177.055(2)(d) was amended to abolish the
proportionality review requirement. This amendment took effect on June
6, 1985. 1985 Stats. ch. 527 § 1, at 1597-1598. The prohibition
against ex post facto laws requires that we apply the law as it
existed when the crime was committed. See Goldsworthy v. Hannifin, 86
Nev. 252, 468 P.2d 350 (1970). In Goldsworthy we held that an act
amending parole eligibility could not be applied to the detriment of a
defendant whose crime was committed before the amendment took effect.
Id. at 256-257, 468 P.2d 350. Because Mrs. Ford's act took place well
before June 6, 1985, we must conduct a proportionality review of her
8. Notwithstanding our disposition of this appeal,
we do not perceive this case to be among the brightest stars in the
judicial firmament. The senseless nature of Mrs. Ford's conduct,
coupled with her troubled and poignant history as wife and mother,
lead us to conclude that the better course would have been a
negotiated resolution assuring society of the defendant's permanent
sequestration. Such a resolution would have been just considering the
ambivalent nuances of her mental condition and the unrelenting
obsession of a mother deprived of her child that haunted her life for
many years prior to her unfocused act of vengeance. A partial list of
direct trial costs involving special disbursements totaled $274,494.
These costs do not include such allocable costs as attorneys fees
attributable to the district attorney's and public defender's offices,
judicial salaries, judicial support staff salaries and the prolonged
commitment of limited physical resources and facilities. All of the
foregoing items are substantially increased by costs incident to this
appeal and will continue to increase by future expenditures on such
matters as determining the point at which Mrs. Ford will be competent
to receive her decreed punishment.
9. Under Nevada law, a person may not be punished
for a public offense while incompetent. NRS 178.400. It is clear,
therefore, that the execution of sentence shall not occur absent an
appropriate predetermination of competence.
10. The Honorable Michael J. Wendell, judge of the
Eighth Judicial District Court, was designated by the Governor to sit
in place of Chief Justice John Mowbray, who voluntarily disqualified
himself. Nev. Const. art. 6, § 4.
11. The Honorable Norman C. Robison, judge of the
Ninth Judicial District Court, was designated by the Governor to sit
in place of Justice Charles E. Springer, who voluntarily disqualified
himself. Nev. Const. art. 6, § 4.