Johnson v. City of Fremont

The City of Fremont paved on block of a street and assessed the paving costs against abutting property owners. The City relied on Nebraska’s “gap and extend” law, which permits a city to “pave any unpaved street…which intersects a paved street for a distance of not to exceed one block on either side of such paved street” to authorize the paving. Appellees, legal titleholders of property that abutted upon and was adjacent to the street, filed a petition on appeal, alleging that the levy of special assessments was invalid. The district court sustained Appellees’ motion for summary judgment, concluding that the City did not comport with the limitations and restrictions required by the gap and extend law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the plan language of the statute authorized the paving. Remanded with direction to enter judgment in favor of the City. View "Johnson v. City of Fremont" on Justia Law

In re Complaint Against Schatz

The Commission on Judicial Qualifications charged Gregory Schatz, a district judge, with misconduct for improperly intervening in a case involving his friend by ordering him released from jail on Schatz’s own recognizance before arraignment. An appointed special master found that Schatz had violated several provisions of the judicial code and the Nebraska Constitution and recommended a public reprimand. The Commission adopted the special master’s factual findings and likewise recommended a public reprimand. Considering the nature of the misconduct and the presence of several mitigating circumstances, the Supreme Court agreed that a public reprimand was an appropriate sanction and publicly reprimanded Schatz. View "In re Complaint Against Schatz" on Justia Law

Hall v. County of Lancaster

In 2009, a pickup truck and a school bus collided at a rural intersection that had limited visibility and was “blind” for both drivers. A stop sign facing the truck was missing at the intersection. Jeff Hall, the driver of the truck, filed an action against the County of Lancaster and Norris School District, the owner of the bus, alleging that the collision was proximately caused by the negligence of the County and of Ronny Aden, the driver of the bus. The district court determined that both drivers were negligent. The court also concluded that the County was liable, reasoning it would have discovered the sign was missing if it had conducted regular sign inspections. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment finding the County liable, holding that the district court was clearly wrong in determining that the County’s lack of a sign-inspection policy was a proximate cause of the accident. Remanded for reallocation of liability between Hall and Norris. View "Hall v. County of Lancaster" on Justia Law

State v. Ryan

Appellant was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court affirmed. Appellant subsequently filed two postconviction motions, both of which were denied. Appellant also filed for federal habeas relief, which the federal courts denied. This appeal concerned Appellant’s latest motion for postconviction relief, which contained five claims dealing with the method of inflicting the death penalty and the State’s authority to put Appellant to death at all, no matter the method. The district court dismissed the petition without an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant’s motion failed to state a claim for postconviction relief, either because his claims were without legal basis or because they were not cognizable in postconviction. View "State v. Ryan" on Justia Law

Woodle v. Commonwealth Land Title Ins. Co.

Plaintiffs, property owners, filed a quiet title action against owners of adjacent lots, seeking a declaration that express easements granted in favor of the adjacent lots were invalid. The defendants filed counterclaims asserting that the express easements were valid. Plaintiffs submitted to Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company ("Commonwealth") a claim for defense pursuant to a policy of title insurance issued by Commonwealth insuring Plaintiffs’ property, but Commonwealth denied the claim. In the quiet title action, the district court extinguished the express easements and denied the counterclaims but concluded that the defendants possessed implied easements. While the quiet title action was pending, Plaintiffs filed the instant action against Commonwealth, seeking a determination that Commonwealth breached its duty under the policy by refusing to provide a defense to the counterclaims. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Commonwealth. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in sustaining Commonwealth’s motion for summary judgment because Commonwealth did not violate its contract with Plaintiffs by denying coverage or indemnification. View "Woodle v. Commonwealth Land Title Ins. Co." on Justia Law

State v. Patton

After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony stemming from Defendant’s involvement in a fatal shooting that occurred during a home invasion robbery. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred when it restricted his cross-examination of three key prosecution witnesses and otherwise violated his constitutional rights of confrontation and due process by impeding his efforts to impeach the witnesses. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by limiting the cross examination of the witnesses; (2) Defendant’s argument that the State violated his rights by failing to disclose tacit plea agreements between the State and the witnesses was without merit; and (3) evidence of prior home invasion robberies committed by two of the witnesses was not admissible in this case because it was not relevant for any legitimate purpose, including impeachment. View "State v. Patton" on Justia Law

State v. DeJong

After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony for the death of her husband. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting certain statements Defendant made while in police custody as volunteered statements. Specifically, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in denying her motion to suppress the statements because Defendant had invoked her constitutional right to end the interrogation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) statements Defendant made from 3:43 to 4 a.m. should have been suppressed because Defendant had invoked her right to remain silent, but the district court’s error was harmless; and (2) statements Defendant made after 4:18 a.m. were not required to be suppressed as involuntary due to Defendant’s earlier invocation of her right to end questioning, as the statements Defendant made after 4:18 a.m. were initiated by Defendant and were not the product of interrogation. View "State v. DeJong" on Justia Law

Kim v. Gen-X Clothing, Inc.

Matthew Kim was working at a retail clothing store when the store was robbed and Kim was shot multiple times. Kim filed for workers’ compensation benefits. The Workers’ Compensation Court found (1) Kim was entitled to temporary total disability (TTD) benefits; (2) Kim’s inpatient treatment for chemical dependency, as well as an emergency room visit were compensable; and (3) Kim was entitled to payment of future medical expenses. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the compensation court (1) was not clearly wrong in finding Kim temporarily totally disabled and awarding him TTD benefits; (2) did not err in finding that the emergency room visit was related to the shooting and was compensable; (3) did not err in concluding that the inpatient treatment was compensable; and (4) did not err in finding that Kim was entitled to future medical expenses. View "Kim v. Gen-X Clothing, Inc." on Justia Law

State v. Vandever

After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine. The district court sentenced Defendant to imprisonment for 300 days and payment of a fine. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction and sentence, holding that the district court did not err when, during deliberations, it granted the jury’s request to rehear an eight-minute recording of an investigator’s interview of Defendant, as the evidence was not testimony, and therefore, the heightened procedures for a jury request for “any part of the testimony” pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1116 were not required. View "State v. Vandever" on Justia Law

State v. Juranek

Defendant was charged with first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. Defendant moved to suppress the statements he made to police during the murder investigation. The district court overruled Defendant’s motion, and, at a bench trial, the State received evidence of the statements challenged in Defendant’s motion to suppress. The district court found Defendant guilty of both charges and sentenced him to life imprisonment for the murder conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court erred in admitting evidence of Defendant’s confession during a pre-Miranda interrogation, but this evidence was cumulative to other admissible evidence, and its admission was harmless error; and (2) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions. View "State v. Juranek" on Justia Law