Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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Appellants were the adoptive parents of Katherine, who was an older sibling of Nettie, the child who was the subject of this juvenile dependency proceeding. Appellants filed a complaint seeking to intervene on Katherine’s behalf to seek guardianship or adoption of Nettie. The court ultimately limited Nettie’s foster parents and Appellants to presenting evidence on their own qualifications to be Nettie’s adoptive parents. The juvenile court determined, after a hearing, that Nettie’s foster parents and Appellants were equally qualified to be foster parents but that it was in Nettie’s best interests to be placed with her foster parents because a joint-sibling placement with Appellants would be contrary to Nettie’s safety and well being. Appellants appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Appellants had no right to appeal the court’s order on Katherine’s behalf, and therefore, the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction over Appellants’ purported appeal. View "In re Interest of Nettie F." on Justia Law
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The State filed an amended petition seeking to adjudicate five children under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(a). At the beginning of the adjudication hearing, the State moved to dismiss without prejudice two factual allegations of the petition. The court dismissed the two allegations with prejudice. The State appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed the order as modified, holding that because the State sought dismissal of the factual allegations before any evidence was presented and before the children’s parents entered their admissions to certain counts, the juvenile court erred in ordering the dismissal to be with prejudice. View "In re Interest of Antonio J." on Justia Law
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After a hearing, the Mental Health Board of the Fourth Judicial District found that L.T. was a dangerous sex offender under Sex Offender Commitment Act and that inpatient treatment was the least restrictive alternative for him. On appeal, the district court concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the Board’s determination and that there was clear and convincing evidence that L.T. could be treated on an outpatient basis. The district court then ordered L.T. unconditionally discharged from commitment as a dangerous sex offender. The State sought to appeal the district court’s order pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 71-1214. L.T. filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, asserting that the State did not follow the proper appeal procedure and, therefore, failed to perfect its appeal. The Supreme Court agreed and dismissed the appeal, holding that the State failed to perfect an appeal under section 71-1214 and Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1912. View "In re Interest of L.T." on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of intentional child abuse resulting in death and intentional child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury in connection with the death of his two-year-old grandson. On Defendant’s first appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the convictions and remanded the cause for a new trial. On retrial, Defendant was again convicted of the crimes. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the was sufficient evidence to support both convictions; (2) any error in admitting testimony over Defendant’s objections was harmless; and (3) the district court’s sentences were not an abuse of discretion. View "State v. Draper" on Justia Law
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In 2003, Defendant pled no contest to sexually assaulting J.B., a girl under sixteen years old. A jury trial was subsequently held in a second case, in which Defendant was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of another girl under sixteen years old, Heather Guerrero. In 2012, Defendant filed a “Verified Motion for Postconviction Relief and Petition for Writ of Error Coram Nobis” in the case involving the sexual assault of J.B. After an evidentiary hearing, the * court rejected Defendant’s claims, overruled his motion for postconviction relief, and denied his petition for writ of error coram nobis. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in overruling Defendant’s motion for postconviction relief and denying his petition for a writ of error coram nobis. View "State v. Hessler" on Justia Law
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Randy and Helen Strode owned real property in the City of Ashland, Saunders County. Since the time of the purchase, the Strodes operated a business for the manufacture of agricultural fencing and the storage of salvage on the property. In 2003, the district court held that Randy’s use of the property to store salvage was in violation of the zoning ordinance but found that the manufacture of agricultural fencing was permitted. In 2013, the Strodes filed suit against the City and the County for inverse condemnation based on the zoning ordinance and the load limit regulation of a bridge used by the Strodes for transporting commercial goods. The district court concluded (1) Randy’s zoning takings claim was barred by claim preclusion because the matter was litigated in the 2003 case, (2) determined that Helen’s regulatory taking lain was barred by the statute of limitations because she was aware of the effect of the zoning ordinance after 2003; (3) found that the regulation of the bridge structure was not a regulatory taking, and (4) the City and County were entitled to summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding in favor of the City and the County. View "Strode v. City of Ashland" on Justia Law

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Clarence Devney petitioned for the dissolution of his marriage to Elizabeth Devney. The district court dissolved the marriage and divided the parties’ assets and debts and, in so doing, found that a postnuptial property agreement entered into by the parties was valid and enforceable and that the division of the martial estate was fair and reasonable. The Supreme Court reversed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) Nebraska statutes do not authorize postnuptial agreements to allocate the parties’ property rights upon separation or divorce unless such agreements are attendant upon the spouses’ separation or divorce, and therefore, the district court erred in enforcing the property agreement provision of the parties’ postnuptial agreement; and (2) the district court erred in its determinations of the marital residence’s value, the appropriate setoff for the marital residence, and the division of the marital debts and assets. Remanded. View "Devney v. Devney" on Justia Law
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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err (1) in finding that Defendant was not deaf or hard of hearing under Neb. Rev. Stat. 20-152, and therefore, in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress statements he made to law enforcement; (2) in finding Defendant competent to stand trial at a competency hearing; and (3) in instructing the jury regarding the definition of the term “deliberation” and regarding sudden quarrel manslaughter. View "State v. Martinez" on Justia Law
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Two taxpayers sold their capital stock of a corporation and structured the transaction to comply with the terms of a definitional statute in order to qualify for a special capital gains election. The Nebraska Department of Revenue disallowed the taxpayers’ special capital gains election. The taxpayers filed a petition for redetermination, and the Tax Commissioner denied the petition. The district court affirmed. The taxpayers appealed, asserting that the district court erred in applying the “economic substance” and “sham transaction” doctrines in determining whether they were entitled to the special capital gains election. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the economic substance doctrine and the sham transaction doctrines did not provide a basis to disallow the taxpayers’ election. Remanded. View "Stewart v. Nebraska Dep’t of Revenue" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of driving under the influence and refusing to submit to a chemical test. Both convictions were second offenses. Defendant appealed, challenging the county court’s refusal to grant his motion to quash the charge of refusal to submit to a chemical yes and his motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of his arrest. Specifically, Defendant argued that criminalizing refusal was a violation of the constitutional rights to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures and that there was not probable cause to support his arrest. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the county court did not err when it overruled Defendant’s motion to quash and his motion to suppress; and (2) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions. View "State v. Pester" on Justia Law