Edward Lattin

If You’re a Stripper,

Nevada’s NRS 484C.430 is A Crappy Law.

If You’re a Cop, Well, Not So Much.

The former Nevada Highway Patrol sergeant who caused a fatal three-vehicle accident in 2008 entered into a negotiated plea agreement that will limit his potential prison term to no more than 6 years. Edward Lattin, a 22-year NHP veteran who, as a sergeant supervised a team that investigates fatal crashes, recently entered a guilty plea to a single count of felony reckless driving causing death.

NHPtrooperEdward Lattin

Former NHP Trooper Edward Lattin

The 51-year-old Lattin, who police say had more marijuana in his system than state law permits while driving, was originally indicted under the same controversial Nevada law under which Jessica Williams was convicted following her 2000 accident that left six teenagers dead. The law’s controversy stemmed, in large part, due to the legal issues that allowed the jury to acquit Williams of driving under the influence of a controlled substance while still convicting her of driving with that same prohibited substance in her blood. Although the jurors determined Williams was not impaired, they also found that Williams had more than 2 nanograms of marijuana per millilitre in her blood. Williams’s appeal was upheld by the state Supreme Court which ruled the law did not require the driver to be impaired.

That is what makes Lattin’s plea all the more troubling. Lattin was indicted under NRS 484C.430 based on the testimony by authorities that blood drawn from the off-duty trooper immediately after the fatal crash tested positive for marijuana at a level of 5.6 nanograms per millilitre. Lattin faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Section 2 of NRS 484C.430 contains a unique provision.

“A prosecuting attorney shall not dismiss a charge of violating the provisions of subsection 1 in exchange for a plea of guilty…to a lesser charge or for any other reason unless the attorney knows or it is obvious that the charge is not supported by probable cause or cannot be proved at the time of trial.”

adabrucenelson

Assistant District Attorney Bruce Nelson

After announcing the plea agreement in open court, prosecutor Bruce Nelson said the Clark County District Attorney’s office negotiated the case with Lattin because the blood test alone could not prove the former Trooper was impaired at the time of the crash, which seemed a rather odd assertion. Considering Nelson was the prosecutor who had previously convicted Williams under the same statute without proving she was impaired, this can’t be dismissed as simply gaff by prosecutors. It’s seems an obvious case of special treatment.

This plea agreement, which the statute clearly does not allow, will most likely allow Lattin to spend a mere fraction of the time Williams received for each one of her counts despite the facts of the cases being nearly identical. This comes as no surprise considering how Lattin’s case was dealt with in an entirely different manner than Williams from the very beginning.

ying vehicle

Scene from the 2008 Crash caused by Lattin

Williams was placed in custody immediately following her accident and remained at the CCDC through her trial, unable to raise a bond of nearly $1,000,000 per victim. Lattin, on the other hand, was not arrested for nearly a month after his accident, and spent only a few days in jail after a judge set his bond at only $50,000 or about 20 times less than bond was set for the similar counts against Williams after his attorneys argued he deserved consideration because of his job with the NHP. This allowed Lattin’s defense team to request continuance after continuance while the former trooper remained free, and perhaps that frustration is what lead Nelson to ignore the law and offer Lattin what essentially is a slap on the wrist.

Lattin was sentenced to a 14 to  48 month prison sentence.

10 thoughts on “Edward Lattin

  1. I think someone is going out of their way to make sure this guys isn’t cut any slack. I believe people placed in prison should be peopole who are a “threat” to others, not someone who made a big mistake and has paid for it in so many other ways.

    • Considering Lattin was afforded a reasonable bail and Assistant District Attorney Bruce Nelson completely reversed the DA’s position that impairment was not a necessary component NRS 484C.430 (Remember Jessica Williams was found guilty under 484C despite a jury finding she was not impaired) its more than obvious he was cut a considerable amount of slack. I would even go as far as stating Lattin received preferential treatment. People like Lattin, people sworn to uphold the law, should be held to a higher, not lower standard than the rest of us,

      I agree that prison should be a place for people who are a threat to others, but that ship has long since sailed.

    • This guy has been cut so much slack it is crazy! He should have stood trial for the Same Jessica Williams was tried for but the DA disceived the plaintiff into offering him a lesser charge. If this article would have been made public or the info passed to the plaintiff he would have probably been sentenced allot longer sentence. He is severing less than 2 years and it took 5 years to get him to a sentencing. Being the fatal accident investigator for the NHP and just a few months earlier going on local tv advising against driving under the influence, you would have thought he would have known better. Ask yourself Mary, if he killed one of your family members or mom would you still be posting the same response?
      To the publisher of this article, a little more info, if you have any would be nice to hear.

      • My daughter was killed in a plane crash, but the pilot wouldn’t have went to trial for flying with his head up his ass! Monitary compensation helps to get on with ones life, but putting someone in jail/prison for a stupid mistake and non-intentional accident for a long time still doesn’t make any sense to me.

        • If the pilot had survived and had illegal narcotics in his system he would have faced charges, just like Sean Oskvarek (http://goo.gl/3GBD3F), and Richard J. Smith (http://goo.gl/vr3zoI). In fact most states have a lower threshold for pilots and stiffer penalties.

          The issue here is not simply whether a person causing an accident should be charged with a felony simply because he has more than “X” amount of substance “Y” in his blood when there is nothing to support the “Y” was a factor in the accident. The issue is how the same DA’s office can argue that NRS 484C.430 does not require impairment in the Williams case and then claim impairment to be fundamental in prosecuting a case under NRS 484C.430.

          The issue is how two people charged with the same crime, nearly the same incriminating factors are treated in completely opposite manners. While I would understand holding the person sworn to uphold the law and in charge of informing the public of the dangers of driving under the influence be held to a higher standard than the 20-something coed, it is disgusting to lower the bar for a NHP trooper.

          Does it make sense to you, that Williams spend decades behind bars while Lattin spends a little more than a year for doing the exact same thing?

          Because that is what the issue is here.

  2. A pilot making a mistake isn’t the same. This is a fatal accidents investigator for the NHP. A professional who knows the dangers of driving under the influence. He had more than twice the amount of marijuana allowed in his system when he caused the accident with witnesses stating how erratic he was driving and speeding passing on the sidewalk side of the roadway and being that he was an officer ANY amount of an illegal substance shows a disregard for the law and making a public “DUI awareness” video just months before this is more of a reason he shows an above the law attitude. If you have no idea what the case if you should probably save your random comments. So, “putting someone in jail/prison for a stupid mistake or non-intentional accident” doesn’t apply here. Your comment about monitory damage making it a little better, show the type of person you are also. Yeah just pay someone after you kill one of their loved ones and it will be ok after a few months. Your a class act.

    Oh and FYI, ANY amount of an illegal substance in an officers system is illegal…

  3. That is exactly the issue here. To make it worse and validate the special treatment is that fact the same DA prosecuted both cases and didn’t not even hint towards him having a similar case in which the defendant was spending decades in prison, but instead telling the plaintiffs only living relative to not purse a trial for 10 times longer.

    And Mary pointing out a classless statement to someone making the comments about money in a situation like this isn’t classless to people who value life before cash. But maybe that’s just me.

  4. You obviously have a very personal attachment to this case, which might be why you don’t even use your own name for your comments. And for the record, I would give back every dime I got for my daughter’s wrongful death to have my daughter back, but unfortunately that is not an option for me! It’s not an either or, her death was not my choice, it just happened!

  5. Sorry for your loss. For the record I have several friends in law enforcement, so I’m not anti-law enforcement at all. In fact I have more of an understanding for how hard it is and would be to have to make split second decisions that not only effect the officers life but the publics as well. What I disliked about your initial statement was how your comment basically say when servant of the public knowingly makes a mistake (having any drugs in his system is knowingly) and takes a life a simple sorry and short punishment is not “going out of their way” to make him pay for his crime. Especially after reading the initial article. I agree with anyone charged with public safety being held to a higher standard. They receive professional training specifically for this. John Public doesn’t. So there is no excuse.

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