Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Juvenile 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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In 1987, Defendant murdered his twelve-year-old sister. Defendant was fourteen years old at the time of the murder. Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2013, Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief, arguing that his sentence was cruel and unusual punishment in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama. The district court vacated Defendant’s life sentence, finding that the sentence was within the parameters of the holding in Miller, that the rule in Miller applies retroactively, and that Defendant was therefore entitled to postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the relevant sentencing scheme mandated life imprisonment without the possibility for parole, the district court was bound by Miller. Remanded for resentencing. View "State v. Thieszen" on Justia Law

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Sandrino T. and Remus M. were each charged in the juvenile court with six counts of ATM “skimming.” In each case, the State moved to transfer to county court. The juvenile court granted the motions. Both Sandrino and Remus appealed. The Supreme Court consolidated the cases on appeal for disposition. The Court then dismissed each appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the orders transferring the cases from juvenile court to county court were not final and appealable because the transfer of the cases from juvenile court to criminal court did not affect the substantial rights of Sandrino and Remus. View "In re Sandrino T." on Justia Law

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The State filed a petition in juvenile court alleging that sixteen-year-old Tyrone K. committed four counts of theft by receiving stolen property and one count of operating a motor vehicle to avoid arrest. The prosecutor moved to transfer the proceedings to criminal court. The juvenile court granted the motion to transfer after conducting an evidentiary hearing. Tyrone appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence for the juvenile court to transfer his case to criminal court. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the transfer order from which Tyrone appealed was not a final order. View "In re Interest of Tyrone K." on Justia Law

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The juvenile court adjudicated twin brothers LeVanta S. and LeRonn S. under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(c) as mentally ill and dangerous. The brother were placed in out-of-home care. The juvenile court later changed the brothers’ permanency objective from family reunification to guardianship. Mother and Father appealed from this order in both cases. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the juvenile court’s order affected a substantial right of the parents, and therefore, the order was a final, appealable order; and (2) the juvenile court exceeded its authority by adopting the permanency plan of guardianship in these cases where there had been no adjudication under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(a). Remanded. View "In re Interest of LeVanta S." on Justia Law

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The State filed an amended petition seeking to adjudicate five children under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(a). At the beginning of the adjudication hearing, the State moved to dismiss without prejudice two factual allegations of the petition. The court dismissed the two allegations with prejudice. The State appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed the order as modified, holding that because the State sought dismissal of the factual allegations before any evidence was presented and before the children’s parents entered their admissions to certain counts, the juvenile court erred in ordering the dismissal to be with prejudice. View "In re Interest of Antonio J." on Justia Law
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After two commitment hearings, the juvenile court entered an order committing Alan L. to the Office of Juvenile Services (OJS) for commitment at a youth rehabilitation and treatment center. In its first order, the court concluded that the State had not proved the necessary conditions for commitment, but the court subsequently found that the evidence supported a commitment order. Alan appealed, arguing (1) claim preclusion barred the State from presenting any new evidence at the second commitment hearing that was available to it before the first commitment hearing; and (2) the commitment hearing violated his right to due process because he could not confront and cross-examine individuals who provided adverse information against him. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Alan was not deprived of his right to procedural due process despite the State’s failure to comply with case law for seeking a new disposition or commitment to OJS; and (2) new evidence at the second commitment hearing, which became available after the first hearing, showed a change of circumstances warranting Alan’s commitment to OJS, and claim preclusion does not bar consideration of changed circumstances. View "In re Interest of Alan L." on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of second degree murder. Defendant was fifteen years old at the time of the murder. The district court sentenced Defendant to imprisonment for sixty years to life. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence, holding (1) the district court properly instructed the jury that it would be required to deliberate until 9 p.m. before it could break for the day; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it overruled Defendant’s motion for a new trial based on alleged juror misconduct; and (3) the sentencing process complied with proper juvenile sentencing principles, and the court did not impose an excessive sentence. View "State v. Cardeilhac" on Justia Law

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Appellant, a juvenile, was charged with committing criminal mischief for damaging the property of Cedars Teaching, Learning, & Connecting group home (Cedars Home) while she was a participant in its program. While the charges were pending final disposition, Appellant ran away from other placements several times. Although another group home accepted Appellant at its location, the juvenile court ordered intensive supervised probation at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center (YRTC), pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-286(1)(b)(ii), finding that all levels of probation supervision and options for community-based services had been exhausted and that intensive supervised probation was appropriate. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 43-286 requires that before a juvenile is placed in YRTC, the Office of Probation Administration must consider what would be a reliable alternative to commitment at YRTC and report its findings to the court; and (2) applying section 43-286 to the present case, Appellant’s placement at YRTC was premature. Remanded. View "In re Interest of Nedhal A." on Justia Law
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The county court for Madison County, sitting as a juvenile court, committed thirteen-year-old Nathaniel to a youth rehabilitation and treatment center. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services appealed, arguing that the court did not have the authority under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-286(1)(b)(i) to commit the juvenile when he was under the age of fourteen. Nathaniel was discharged from the rehabilitation and treatment center after the appeals were filed, causing the appeals to become moot. Acknowledging that the cases were moot, the Department asked the Supreme Court to decide them under the public interest exception to the doctrine of mootness. The Supreme Court declined to do so and dismissed the appeals, holding that, based on the manner in which the cases became moot and the possibility that the issue presented was one of last impression, the public exception to the mootness doctrine did not apply. View "In re Interest of Nathaniel M." on Justia Law
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