State v. Knutson

Defendant, a teacher at a public school, was charged with five counts of sexual assault and child abuse involving four minor girls: T.P., M.K., E.M., and E.A. Three of the girls were Defendant’s students when the conduct occurred, and Defendant tutored the fourth girl, E.A. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of the charges involving E.A. but was acquitted of the charges involving the other three girls. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to sever the charges and joining them all in a single trial; (2) the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress his cell phone records; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions for child abuse and child enticement for an illegal sexual purpose. View "State v. Knutson" on Justia Law

Robertson v. Jacobs Cattle Co.

Appellants - four of the partners in the Jacobs Cattle Company partnership - sought dissolution and liquidation of the partnership. Appellees - the partnership and the remaining partners - filed a counterclaim seeking dissociation of Appellants instead of dissolution. The district court dissociated Appellants and ordered the partnership to buy out their interests. In a previous appeal, the Supreme Court held that judicial dissociation was proper but determined that the district court erred in calculating the proper distributions to buy out the dissociated partners. On remand, the district court determined that the profit from the hypothetical capital gain should be credited to the partners’ accounts in accordance with their capital percentages, rather than the income percentages. This resulted in a lower buyout distribution to the dissociated partners. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in calculating the distributions required for the buyout. Remanded. View "Robertson v. Jacobs Cattle Co." on Justia Law

Neb. Accountability & Disclosure Comm’n v. Skinner

Two employees of Northwest Rural Public Power District (NRPPD), a political subdivision, purchased short radio advertisements on the subject of wind energy, electricity rates, and generation duplication, which were broadcast before the November 2, 2010 general election. Michael Van Buskirk, a candidate for NRPPD’s board of directors, filed complaints with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (Commission), contending the radio advertisements were directed at his campaign. The Commission found that the employees had expended public funds “for the purpose of campaigning” in violation of the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act (Act). The district court reversed, concluding that the use of NRPPD funds to purchase the advertisements did not constitute “campaigning” within the definition of the Act. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court’s conclusion that the employees had not violated the Act was based on an interpretation of the statute that was contrary to law. Remanded. View "Neb. Accountability & Disclosure Comm'n v. Skinner" on Justia Law

State v. Smith

In 1983, when he was sixteen years old, Defendant was convicted of burglary and kidnapping. The court imposed the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for the kidnapping and a term of five to twenty years’ imprisonment for the burglary. In 2013, Defendant filed a pro se motion to correct his sentence, arguing that his life sentence was illegal under the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Florida, in which the Court held that the imposition of life without parole on a juvenile offender who did not commit homicide is unconstitutional. The district court dismissed Defendant’s motion for lack of jurisdiction because it was not brought under a recognized procedure under Nebraska law and because the sentence was currently valid. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Defendant failed to timely assert his Graham v. Florida claim under the Nebraska Postconviction Act, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider Defendant’s motion and did not err in dismissing it without reaching its merit. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

State v. Sandoval

In 2004, Defendant pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine. After Defendant had served the sentence for his offense Defendant filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, asserting that neither the district court nor defense counsel advised him of the immigration consequences of his guilty plea and arguing that he should be allowed to withdraw his plea. The district court denied relief, concluding that Defendant’s claims were not based upon an error of fact that could be addressed via a petition for writ of error coram nobis. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the failure of a court to advise a defendant of the immigration consequences of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere prior to acceptance of the plea cannot serve as the basis for a writ of error coram nobis. View "State v. Sandoval" on Justia Law

State v. Hill

Defendant was convicted of first degree murder in connection with the shooting death of an acquaintance of Defendant. Defendant filed three motions to suppress evidence, all of which were denied. Defendant appealed the denials of his motions to suppress and argued that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err when it (1) denied Defendant’s motion to suppress the results of the search of Defendant’s person; (2) failed to suppress evidence found at Defendant’s residence pursuant to a search warrant; (3) did not exclude expert testimony and exhibits concerning the ShotSpotter system, which detected the location of the shots fired the night of the murder; and (4) found the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction. View "State v. Hill" on Justia Law

State v. Chojolan

In 2006, Appellant pled guilty to attempted possession of a controlled substance. In 2012, Appellant filed a motion seeking to withdraw his 2006 plea, alleging that neither his counsel nor the court had advised him of the immigration consequences of his plea prior to entry of the plea. The district court dismissed Appellant’s motion for lack of jurisdiction, concluding (1) the decision in Padilla v. Kentucky did not apply retroactively to Appellant’s 2006 plea and conviction; and (2) the court did not have jurisdiction because Appellant had completed his sentence and was no longer in the State’s custody. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court correctly concluded that Padilla v. Kentucky did not apply retroactively to Appellant’s 2006 plea-based conviction; but (2) the district court had jurisdiction to consider Appellant’s motion to withdraw his plea under the remedy provided in Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-1819.02(2) without regard to whether Appellant had completed his sentence. View "State v. Chojolan" on Justia Law

Potter v. McCulla

Barbara Potter suffered a repetitive trauma injury as a result of her employment as a dental hygienist over a period of more than 30 years. In late 2007 or early 2008, while working in a dental clinic for Dr. Patrick McCulla, Potter began experiencing pain in her neck. Potter received medical treatment for her pain 12 times between October 17, 2008, and January 20, 2009. By this time, McCulla had sold the dental practice to Dr. Tracy Garcia. Potter’s duties and hours remained the same during and after the ownership change. Potter filed a petition in the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court seeking benefits. That court found Potter had preexisting conditions in her neck which were aggravated by her duties as a dental hygienist and awarded benefits based on a 40-percent loss of earning capacity. It determined that the date of the injury was February 11, 2009, as that was the date she first missed work to be treated for her injury. Because Garcia was Potter’s employer on the date of the injury, the court held Garcia and FirstComp liable for all of Potter’s medical expenses and compensation benefits. Garcia appealed. The Supreme Court concluded Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court properly determined that her injury manifested itself on February 11, 2009, during Potter’s employment with Garcia, and that Garcia and Garcia’s workers’ compensation carrier are liable for all of Potter’s medical expenses and compensation benefits. View "Potter v. McCulla" on Justia Law

SFI Ltd. Partnership 8 v. Carroll

SFI Ltd. Partnership 8 (SFI) owned an apartment complex containing approximately 200 apartments. Through its agent, SFI leased an apartment to Michelle Carroll. The lease included provisions requiring Carroll to pay for repairs caused by her use of the unit and to maintain renter’s insurance including “a personal liability coverage to a minimum of $100,000.00.” A fire occurred in the apartment rented to Carroll. Both the apartment and the surrounding building were damaged. SFI had $10 million of total insurance coverage on the apartment complex. The policy provided for a deductible of $250,000 per occurrence unless a specific deductible applied. The parties stipulated that SFI sustained damages in excess of $100,000 resulting from the fire, which damages were not covered by its insurance policy. But neither the total amount of damages nor the amount of any insurance recovery by SFI was included in the evidence. Carroll had renter’s insurance in place at that time, and she submitted a claim to her insurer. Carroll’s insurer paid her $1,500, representing only her damages under “Loss of Use Coverage.” In previous cases, the Nebraska Supreme Court applied an antisubrogation rule to prohibit a landlord’s insurer from seeking reimbursement from the tenant of fire losses paid by insurance. In this appeal, the Court declined to extend the antisubrogation rule to a landlord’s uninsured losses allegedly caused by its tenant’s negligence. Therefore the Court reversed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the tenant. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "SFI Ltd. Partnership 8 v. Carroll" on Justia Law

Nebraska v. Rodriguez

In 2013, Francisco Rodriguez moved to withdraw his guilty plea and to vacate his 2004 conviction for attempted possession of a controlled substance (Class I misdemeanor). He argued that before entering a guilty plea in the 2004 proceedings, he did not receive the proper advisement under Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-1819.02(1) (Reissue 2008), and that he currently faced immigration consequences from the resulting conviction. Because Rodriguez moved to withdraw his plea after he had completed his sentence of 2 years’ probation, the district court concluded that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court concluded that the court did have jurisdiction, and reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Nebraska v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law