State v. Sanders

Defendant was convicted of discharging a firearm at a dwelling while in or near a motor vehicle, in violation of Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-1212.04, and using a firearm to commit a felony. Defendant’s convictions and sentences were affirmed on appeal. Defendant subsequently filed a pro se motion for postconviction relief, asserting ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court denied the motion for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) counsel could not have been deficient for failing to raise a novel constitutional challenge to section 28-1212.04, and therefore, the district court did not err when it denied this claim; and (2) the record refuted the claim that counsel was ineffective for failing to move to suppress evidence obtained from the stop and search of Defendant’s vehicle, and therefore, the district court did not err when it denied this claim.View "State v. Sanders" on Justia Law

In re Interest of Gabriella H.

The State filed a petition to terminate Father’s parental rights to his daughter based on Father’s abandonment of the child. After a hearing, the juvenile court entered an order terminating Father’s parental rights to his daughter, finding clear and convincing evidence that Father had abandoned the child and that termination was in the child’s best interests. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to establish that Father intentionally abandoned the child due to Father’s lack of absolute certainty concerning paternity and his incarceration while awaiting trial. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) clear and convincing evidence supported the finding of abandonment because Father was initially involved in his daughter’s life but later demonstrated no interest in her or in exercising parental responsibilities; and (2) the evidence clearly and convincingly established that termination of Father’s parental rights was in his daughter’s best interests.View "In re Interest of Gabriella H." on Justia Law

State v. Wetherell

In 1999, Appellant pled no contest to first degree murder. Appellant was eighteen years old at the time of the offense. Appellant was sentenced to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal, and Appellant’s first postconviction motion was denied. Appellant filed a second motion for postconviction relief, claiming that she was a “minor” as defined under certain Nebraska law at the time of her offense, and therefore, her life sentence was unconstitutional under Miller v. Alabama. The district court denied the motion, concluding that because Appellant was not under the age of eighteen at the time of her offense, Miller did not apply to her case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the relief afforded in Miller and resulting resentencing under Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-105.02 apply to persons who were under the age of eighteen at the time of their crimes and therefore did not apply to Defendant.View "State v. Wetherell" on Justia Law

Fed. Nat’l Mortgage Ass’n v. Marcuzzo

A court is required to dismiss a forcible entry and detainer action upon receiving evidence of the existence of a title dispute. In this case, Plaintiff filed a forcible entry and detainer complaint against Defendants in the county court. Defendants challenged the jurisdiction of the county court, alleging that they had filed an action in the district court challenging title in Plaintiff. After the district court action had been dismissed as to Plaintiff, the county court overruled Defendants’ motion to dismiss, found in favor of Plaintiff, and ordered a writ of restitution to be issued. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Defendants failed to present to the county court evidence of a question of title until after that question had been resolved, the county court was not divested of jurisdiction.View "Fed. Nat’l Mortgage Ass’n v. Marcuzzo" on Justia Law

State v. Henderson

Defendant was convicted of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, and other crimes. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court erred when it overruled his motion to suppress evidence obtained from a search of the contents of a cell phone that was among the items of personal property taken from him upon his arrest. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences, holding (1) the district court did not err in not suppressing evidence obtained from the search of the cell phone because, while there was not a valid search warrant in this case, the issuance of the warrants was reasonable, and the warrants were carried out in good faith; (2) the district court did not err when it overruled Defendant’s other objections to the admission of evidence obtained from the search of the cell phone; and (3) there was no merit to Defendant’s remaining assignments of error.View "State v. Henderson" on Justia Law

State v. Kays

After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of sexual assault of a child. Defendant appealed, assigning as error that an alternate thirteenth juror deliberated and was polled in the guilty verdict against him. The original bill of exceptions reflected the thirteenth juror’s being polled. A reproofread version of the bill of exceptions that replaced the original bill of exceptions, however, reflected only twelve jurors polled for the verdict. The court of appeals remanded the matter to the district court for a hearing on the question of the accuracy of the bill of exceptions. The district court entered an order finding that the reproofread version of the bill of exceptions was the bill of exceptions upon which Defendant’s appeal should proceed. Defendant argued before the court of appeals that the bill of exceptions was not credible and that a new trial was warranted. The court of appeals affirmed, finding no merit to Defendant’s assignments of error. The Supreme Court affirmed on further review, holding that the district court did not plainly err in determining that the presently filed bill of exceptions was accurate.View "State v. Kays" on Justia Law

State ex rel. Connor H.

Connor was born out of wedlock to Blake and Amanda and given Amanda’s maiden surname. Amanda was granted sole legal and physical custody of Connor. Amanda subsequently married and changed her surname to that of her husband. Thereafter, both Amanda and Blake sought to change Connor’s surname - Blake proposing his surname and Amanda proposing her married surname. The district court entered an order changing Connor’s surname to Blake’s surname, giving preference to the paternal surname and using a “substantial evidence” standard. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court applied an incorrect burden of proof, as the child’s best interests is the controlling standard; (2) the district court wrongfully gave preference to the surname of Blake because no automatic preference as to the surname of a child born in wedlock exists in Nebraska law; and (3) the evidence was insufficient to show that a change to either Blake’s surname or Amanda’s married surname would promote his best interests. Remanded.View "State ex rel. Connor H." on Justia Law

State v. Dubray

After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder and two related counts of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. Defendant was sentenced to terms of life imprisonment for each of the murder convictions, to be served consecutively. Defendant appealed, raising allegations of error related to an evidentiary ruling, a jury instruction, prosecutorial misconduct, and assistance of trial counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in its evidentiary ruling; (2) Defendant's claims of prosecutorial misconduct were either without merit or Defendant was not prejudiced by the misconduct; and (3) Defendant’s ineffective assistance claims either failed or could not be addressed on direct appeal.View "State v. Dubray" on Justia Law

Rice v. Bixler

Plaintiff, the surface owner of various tracts of land in Sioux County, sued the alleged owners of severed mineral interests in those tracts, claiming that the defendants abandoned their interests because they did not comply with the requirements of Neb. Rev. Stat. 57-229 by failing to exercise publicly the right of ownership of the severed mineral interests. All of the defendants filed verified claims to the mineral interests prior to the action filed by Plaintiff. The district court concluded (1) the alleged mineral owners had either strictly complied or substantially complied with the requirements of section 57-229; and (2) the alleged mineral owners had not forfeited their mineral interests, except for one of the claims, which was terminated. Rice appealed, and two of the defendants cross-appealed as to the mineral interests that were terminated. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) strict compliance with section 57-229 is mandatory; (2) several of the defendants abandoned their interests by not strictly complying with the statute, and therefore, the district court erred in failing to terminate their interests; and (3) the district court correctly terminated the remaining mineral interests.View "Rice v. Bixler" on Justia Law

State v. Matthews

After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of six felonies arising from a shooting involving multiple victims, including attempted first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony with respect to Kevin Guzman. The court of appeals reversed Defendant’s convictions as to Guzman and remanded for a new trial, concluding that the trial court erred in excluding Guzman’s testimony as to Guzman’s aggressive and violent character while using drugs and alcohol. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals erred in determining that Defendant’s self-defense claim was prejudiced by the exclusion of evidence of Guzman’s aggressive and violent behavior. Remanded with direction that the relevant convictions and sentences be reinstated.View "State v. Matthews" on Justia Law