Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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This appeal arose from two consolidated appeals from proceedings in the county court. The first appeal was from the court’s final order appointing a conservator for Marcia Abbott, and the second was from the court’s order that acted both as a judgment in a trustee removal proceeding and as a final order denying fees and expenses in the conservatorship proceeding. The Supreme Court (1) dismissed the first appeal and dismissed the cross-appeal to the extent it pertained to the first appeal, holding that the conservatorship appointment order became moot upon Marcia’s death while the first appeal was pending; and (2) affirmed the remaining trust and conservatorship issues, including the order removing the successor trustee, declining to surcharge him, disposing of competing attorney fee applications, and otherwise disposing of the trust and conservatorship proceedings. View "In re Conservatorship of Abbott" on Justia Law
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Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pled guilty to attempted possession of a controlled substance and driving under the influence. The district court sentenced Defendant to two jail sentences, to be served consecutively. Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court erred in denying him probation based solely on “its erroneous interpretation that his immigration status prohibited probation.” The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court relied on more than just Defendant’s undocumented status when imposing sentence; (2) the court properly considered probation but found Defendant to be an inappropriate candidate; and (3) the court did not abuse its discretion in deciding not to place Defendant on probation for his convictions. View "State v. Cerritos-Valdez" on Justia Law
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After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of two counts of first degree felony murder and other crimes. Appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment for each first degree murder. The Supreme Court vacated Appellant’s life sentences under Miller v. Alabama and also vacated his other sentences because the sentencing court committed plain error by ordering some sentences to run concurrently with other sentences. After a hearing, Appellant was resentenced in accordance with established law. Appellant appealed his resentencing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in the sentences it imposed upon Appellant; (2) the aggregate of Appellant’s sentences did not constitute a de facto life sentence, and Appellant received the protections required by Miller for a juvenile convicted of a homicide offense; (3) the district court did not impose an aggregate de facto life sentence; and (4) Appellant’s resentencing was not presumptively vindictive. View "State v. Castaneda" on Justia Law
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After Loyola Kaiser’s husband, Albert Kaiser, died, Heartland Trust Company, as Loyola’s conservator, filed an application in the county court seeking authority to file the elective share it argued was due to Loyola as Albert’s surviving spouse. The county court denied the application. Heartland appealed, arguing that the county court’s decision to deny its application did not conform to the law, was not supported by competent evidence, and was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the county court did not err when it denied Heartland’s request for authorizing to file for the elective share of Albert’s estate on Loyola’s behalf. View "In re Guardianship & Conservatorship of Kaiser" on Justia Law
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Defendant pled no contest to possession of a controlled substance and unlawful acts relating to drugs. After a sentencing hearing, the district court found that Defendant was not a suitable candidate for probation and therefore sentenced her to terms of imprisonment for each conviction to be served concurrent with one another. Defendant appealed, arguing, inter alia, that the district court did not follow Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2204.02, enacted as part of 2015 Neb. Laws L.B. 605, when it found that Defendant was not a suitable candidate for probation with regard to the possession conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it overruled Defendant’s motion to continue sentencing; and (2) the court did not abuse its discretion when it determined that there were substantial and compelling reasons that Defendant could not effectively and safely be supervised in the community on probation. View "State v. Baxter" on Justia Law
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After a bench trial on stipulated facts, Defendant was found guilty of refusal of a chemical test in violation of Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-6,197. Defendant appealed, arguing, primarily, that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because the traffic stop was conducted without reasonable suspicion and that section 6-6,197.09 and related statutes are unconstitutional because they are void for vagueness. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress; (2) section 60-6,197.09 is not unconstitutionally vague; and (3) Defendant was not denied due process when he was denied probation. View "State v. Arizola" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of intentional child abuse resulting in death. Defendant was sentenced to imprisonment for eighty years to life. Defendant appealed, assigning numerous errors addressed to the grand jury process and trial rulings. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction and sentence, holding that the district court did not commit prejudicial error when it (1) overruled Defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment for lack of probable cause; (2) overruled Defendant’s motion to quash the indictment due to errors relating to the special prosecutor; (3) overruled Defendant’s motion in limine to prohibit the State from presenting evidence regarding DNA testing of certain evidence; and (4) overruled Defendant’s motions for mistrial. View "State v. Chauncey" on Justia Law
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In 2001, Appellant was convicted of first degree murder and use of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Appellant was sixteen years old when he committed the crimes leading to his convictions. Appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment on the murder conviction. In 2013, Appellant filed a motion for postconviction relief seeking resentencing on his murder conviction pursuant to Miller v. Alabama. The district court granted postconviction relief. After a resentencing hearing, Appellant was sentenced to ninety to ninety years’ imprisonment on the first degree murder conviction. Appellant appealed, arguing that the district court imposed an excessive sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing a sentence within the statutory limits and supported by the record, and there was no merit to Appellant’s claim that his sentence was excessive. View "State v. Garza" on Justia Law

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Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Insurance Company issued a homeowner’s insurance policy to Howard Hunter that prohibited an assignment of “[a]ll rights and duties” without Farm Bureau’s consent. After a storm damaged the roof of Hunter’s home, he assigned his claim to Millard Gutter Company, the company that repaired the roof. Millard Gutter sued Farm Bureau and obtained a county court judgment. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the postloss assignment of a claim under a homeowner’s insurance policy was valid despite the nonassignment cause. View "Millard Gutter Co. v. Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Insurance Co." on Justia Law
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In 1994, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony. Defendant was fifteen years old at the time of the commission of the acts leading to his convictions. Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment on the murder conviction. Following the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama, Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief. The motion was granted and Defendant’s life sentence was vacated and the cause remanded. Upon resentencing, Defendant was sentenced to ninety years’ to ninety years’ imprisonment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the sentence imposed upon Defendant on resentencing was not erroneous; and (2) the sentencing court properly considered Defendant’s youth and used adequate procedural safeguards when sentencing him. View "State v. Mantich" on Justia Law
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