Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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Defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to “not less than life and not more than life imprisonment.” Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court erred in sentencing her to a term of life-to-life imprisonment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s life-to-life sentence is permissible because a term of life imprisonment is a term of years within the meaning of Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2204; and (2) Defendant’s sentence does not violate Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-105, 28-304(2), and 29-2204. View "State v. Casterline" on Justia Law
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Posted in: Criminal Law
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Appellant, the ex-husband in this case, appealed from an order of the district court generally overruling his objections to garnishment upon a foreign dissolution decree. Both parties appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant waived his argument that he was not properly notified of the registration of the foreign judgment and of the garnishment; (2) the lower court adequately addressed the percentage of Appellant’s wages that should be garnished; and (3) because Appellee, the ex-wife, did not meet the requirements of Neb. Ct. R. App. P. 2-109(D)(4) in her purported cross-appeal, the Court will not consider the merits of her cross-appeal. View "Friedman v. Friedman" on Justia Law
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Posted in: Family Law
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At a public tax sale, Appellants’ property was sold to Anne Determan, who subsequently obtained a tax sale certificate for the property. Appellants attempted to redeem their property in the manner prescribed by Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-1824. Appellants were advised by both the Douglas County Treasurer and Determan that the only avenue of redemption available to them was Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-1917. Unlike section 77-1824, section 77-1917 required payment of costs and attorney fees. Appellants petitioned the district court for a writ of mandamus ordering the Treasurer and Determan to accept redemption of the property pursuant to section 77-1824. The district court entered judgment in favor of the Treasurer and sustained Determan’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, concluding (1) once Determan filed a foreclosure action, Appellants could not redeem their property under section 77-1824; and (2) Determan was not the proper subject of a mandamus action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in its determination that once a foreclosure action was filed, Appellants were required to use the manner of redemption provided in section 77-1917; and (2) properly dismissed Determan from the case. View "Neun v. Ewing" on Justia Law

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The State charged Defendant with two felony counts of theft by deception in violation of Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-512. The district court sustained Defendant’s motion to quash the information, concluding that the State should have aggregated all of the alleged incidents into a single count of theft by deception rather than charging two separate counts. The court then gave the State seven days to file an amended information. Instead of filing an amended information, the State filed an application to docket error proceedings. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding (1) the State may appeal an order which sustained a motion to quash but allowed the State time to file an amended information; and (2) because there was no final order for purposes of Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2315.01, the State may not take an appeal. View "State v. Warner" on Justia Law
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Posted in: Criminal Law
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In 1997, pursuant to a plea agreement, Appellant pled no contest to three counts of attempted first degree assault and two counts of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. In 2013, Appellant filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the district court for Douglas County, alleging that he was entitled to habeas relief because the information on which he was convicted incorrectly identified the victim on counts I and II. The district court denied Appellant’s petition, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the petition because Appellant was currently serving his incarceration at the penitentiary in Lincoln, Nebraska, which was not in Douglas County. The Supreme Court affirmed but on other grounds, holding (1) the district court was not deprived of jurisdiction by the fact that Appellant was not confined within Douglas County or because Appellant failed to attach a copy of the commitment order to his petition; but (2) Appellant did not raise an issue that could be addressed in a writ of habeas corpus proceeding in Nebraska. View "O'Neal v. State" on Justia Law
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Posted in: Criminal Law
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Plaintiff’s minor daughter, Brayden, who suffers from Coffin-Lowry Syndrome, had been receiving home and community-based waiver services for approximately twelve years when the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) determined that she no longer qualified for waiver services and terminated the services. Plaintiff filed this action on behalf of Brayden, contending that DHHS used the wrong criteria to evaluate Brayden’s eligibility and erred in finding that she did not qualify for waiver services. The district court affirmed the termination of those services. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) DHHS’ creation and use of exhibit 4, the assessment document used to evaluate children with disabilities, to evaluate Brayden was arbitrary and produced an unreasonable result; and (2) DHHS should have found that Brayden qualified for waiver services. View "Merie B. v. State" on Justia Law

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In 1989, The Bauermeisters and the Deavers (collectively, Plaintiffs) entered into an agreement with Waste Management Co. of Nebraska, Inc. (WMN) for the sale of 280 acres of farmland. WMN eventually located a monofill on the site. In 2006 and 2007, Plaintiffs unsuccessfully attempted to exercise their option to purchase under the agreement. Plaintiffs subsequently filed suit against WMN for specific performance, accounting, quiet title, and declaratory judgment. The district court severed the specific performance and quiet title actions from the accounting and declaratory judgment actions. Judgment was entered for Plaintiffs with respect to the specific performance action. On remand, WMU was ordered to convey title of the disputed property to Plaintiffs, subject to specified exceptions. With respect to the accounting action, the district court found primarily for WMM. Beauermeister Deaver Ecology Land Use Development, LLC (BDELUD), successor in interest to Plaintiffs, appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that (1) WMN owned the landfill gases and equipment associated with collecting and transporting the landfill gases and that WMN was entitled to all landfill gas revenue; and (2) BDELUD was not entitled to past or future revenues from the monofill. View "Bauermeister Deaver Ecology Land Use Dev. v. Waste Mgmt. Co." on Justia Law

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Appellant, a deputy sheriff at the Cass County sheriff’s office, was suspended for ten days. Appellant filed a grievance on his suspension. The Cass County Merit Commission affirmed the actions of the sheriff’s office. Forty-two days from the date the Commission orally announced its decision, Appellant filed a petition in error with the Cass County District Court. The notice of appeal was filed seventeen days after the date the Commission’s decision was faxed and mailed to Appellant’s counsel. The district court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that the appeal was not filed within the thirty-day time period. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) although decisions rendered by an inferior tribunal, board or commission are typically final when they are announced on the record, Neb. Rev. Stat. 23-1734 - which requires that the order must be in writing, certified to the sheriff, and delivered - overrides that general rule; and (2) pursuant to section 23-1734, the appeal was timely. Remanded. View "Schaffer v. Cass County" on Justia Law

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Appellant was convicted of unlawful possession of four or more financial transaction devices and unlawful circulation of financial transaction devices in the first degree. Appellant was sentenced as a habitual criminal to two terms of imprisonment, the sentences to run consecutively. The Court of Appeals affirmed on direct appeal. After unsuccessfully seeking postconviction relief, Appellant filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus alleging that his convictions and sentences were void because the trial court made the habitual criminal determination utilizing the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” rather than the standard of “by a preponderance of the evidence.” Appellant then filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. The district court denied Appellant’s motion, concluding that Appellant’s habeas corpus petition was frivolous. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding that the legal position asserted in Appellant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus was frivolous. View "Gray v. Kenney" on Justia Law
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Posted in: Criminal Law
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By Justia Inc
After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of first degree murder, use of a weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person. The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s convictions, holding (1) Appellant waived any claimed error regarding the admission of autopsy photographs of the victim’s injuries; (2) the trial court did not err in overruling Appellant’s Batson challenge to the State’s use of a peremptory strike against the only African-American prospective juror; and (3) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of irrelevant DNA testing results, but the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law
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Posted in: Criminal Law
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