Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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Defendant pleaded no contest to criminal mischief, a Class IV felony. After a hearing, the district court sentenced Defendant to a term of imprisonment of twenty to forty months. Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court (1) erred by failing to retroactively apply statutory amendments from 2015 Neb. Laws, L.B. 605, and (2) abused its discretion by sentencing him to a term of incarceration rather than a term of probation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the changes set forth by L.B. 605 did not apply to Defendant; and (2) the district court did not err in sentencing Defendant to a term of imprisonment. View "State v. Raatz" on Justia Law
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Plaintiff, a trooper with the Nebraska State Patrol, was an applicant for a lateral transfer to the position of “Executive Protection Trooper.” After another applicant was awarded the position, Plaintiff filed a public records request under Neb. Rev. Stat. 84-712 seeking records relating to the interview and selection process for the Executive Protection Trooper position. The State Patrol denied Plaintiff’s request. Plaintiff sought a writ of mandamus in the district court again seeking the records that were the subject of his public records request. The trial court denied Plaintiff’s petition, concluding that the records could be withheld under section 84-712.05(7). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in denying Plaintiff’s petition for writ of mandamus because the records Plaintiff sought to view were exempted under section 84-712.05(7). View "Steckelberg v. Nebraska State Patrol" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), fourth offense, with refusal to submit to a chemical test, and for driving during revocation. The court of appeals affirmed. Defendant petitioned for further review, arguing that the district court erred in overruling his motion for mistrial because the State violated due process and the state and federal constitutions by improperly commenting during closing arguments on Defendant’s pretrial silence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, although the prosecutor’s closing remarks about Defendant’s postarrest, pre-Miranda silence were questionable, they did not prejudice his right to a fair trial. View "State v. Mitchell" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of refusal to submit to a chemical test. Defendant was sentenced to six months’ probation. The district court and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in affirming the judgment and conviction, as (1) Defendant’s arrest for driving under the influence of drugs was supported by probable cause; (2) the county court did not err by directing a verdict on the charge of refusing a chemical test; and (3) the county court did not err by refusing to give Defendant’s proposed jury instructions defining “chemical test” and “drug.” View "State v. Rothenberger" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged by information with driving under the influence and refusing to submit to a chemical test. Defendant filed a motion to quash the information, alleging that Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-6,197 and 60-6,197.03(6) violated his constitutional rights by criminalizing the withdrawal of consent to a search and by aggravating the penalty for a crime for exercising the right to withdraw his consent to a search. The district court denied the motion to quash. Following a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to quash. View "State v. Cornwell" on Justia Law
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In 2015, the State filed a motion to terminate Mother’s parental rights to her minor child. After conducting a termination hearing, the juvenile court terminated Mother’s parental rights, finding by clear and convincing evidence that the State proved grounds for termination under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-292(2),(6), and (7) and that termination was in the child’s best interests. On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the State failed to adduce clear and convincing evidence that terminating Mother’s parental rights was in the child’s best interests. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the State adduced clear and convincing evidence that termination was in the child’s best interests. Remanded. View "In re Interest of Alec S." on Justia Law
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Defendant pled guilty to possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person and, after a jury trial, was found guilty of second degree murder and of using a deadly weapon to commit a felony. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences on direct appeal. Thereafter, Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief, raising several claims ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court held an evidentiary hearing on some of the claims Defendant raised and then denied postconviction relief. Defendant appealed, alleging four assignments of error regarding his claims of ineffective assistance. Defendant assigned that it was plain error for the trial court to accept his guilty plea. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion. View "State v. Harris" on Justia Law

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While they were married, Marcia and Gene Schlake purchased residential property as joint tenants. After the parties divorced, Marcia conveyed a remained interest in her undivided one-half interest to her two children but retained a life estate interest in her one-half interest. Marcia and her children later filed a complaint in partition regarding the property. Gene opposed the partition, noting that the parties’ divorce decree provided that they shall not sell the property unless they both agreed in writing. The district court granted summary judgment in Marcia’s favor and ordered that partition should be made. Gene then filed a motion to vacate the summary judgment order, raising as an affirmative defense that Marcia should be precluded from seeking partition as a matter of equity. The district court overruled the motion to vacate, concluding that Gene’s failure to present such an affirmative defense in response to Marcia’s summary judgment was not grounds to vacate the judgment. The district court then ordered that the premises be sold at public auction. Gene appealed, seeking review of several orders entered by the district court. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that none of the orders were properly before the Court for review. View "Schlake v. Schlake" on Justia Law
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Defendant was charged with motor vehicle homicide, manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causing serious bodily injury, and other charges arising out of an accident in which the driver of another vehicle was killed by a vehicle driven by Defendant. Before trial, the district court granted Defendant’s motion to suppress blood and urine samples taken from him. After the State unsuccessfully appealed the denial of the motion to suppress, Defendant filed a motion for absolute discharge, arguing that his statutory right to a speedy trial had been violated. The Supreme Court denied Defendant’s motion, concluding that the time during which the appeal was pending was excludable from the statutory speedy trial calculation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly denied the motion for absolute discharge because the speedy trial clock was tolled while the State pursued the appeal. View "State v. Hood" on Justia Law

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Appellant, an inmate, sent his typewriter out of the prison for repairs, but the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services refused to return the typewriter to him. After unsuccessfully filing a grievance with the Department, Appellant filed a petition for review before the district court seeking review under the Administrative Procedure Act and a declaratory judgment. The district court ultimately dismissed the action for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and that the court did not err in sustaining the Department’s motion to dismiss Appellant’s claim. View "Jacob v. Neb. Dep’t of Corr. Servs." on Justia Law