Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment the district court denying postconviction relief sought by Defendant without conducting an evidentiary hearing, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by failing to hold an evidentiary hearing on Defendant's claims.Defendant was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death on each murder conviction. Defendant later filed what the district court referred to as his fifth postconviction motion, alleging (1) after the Legislature passed L.B. 268 abolishing the death penalty and when L.B. 268 was subsequently repeated by public referendum, his constitutional rights were violated; and (2) he was constitutionally ineligible for imposition of the death penalty under Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002). The court summarily denied relief on both claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly found that Defendant's Atkins claim was both procedurally barred and time barred; and (2) Defendant's L.B. 268 claim was meritless. View "State v. Lotter" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying postconviction relief sought by Appellant, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court affirmed. Appellant later filed a timely pro se motion for postconviction relief alleging that his trial counsel had been ineffective in challenging the admissibility and weight of the State's DNA evidence presented at trial. The district court denied postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence demonstrated that defense counsel's performance was the product of reasonable trial strategy; and (2) Appellant failed to show that his trial counsel performed deficiently in their treatment of the probability statistic admitted at trial. View "State v. Ellis" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that the Nebraska Real Estate License Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-885.01 to 81-885.55, barred Choice Homes, LLC's claims regarding a failed purchase agreement, holding that the district court did not err.Choice attempted to buy certain real estate from Owners in order to sell it to Buyers, but after the closing failed, Buyers purchased the property directly from Owners. Choice brought this action seeking damages related the purchase claims. Choice also asserted a defamation claim stemming from an online review posted by Buyers. The district court granted summary judgment against Choice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Act barred Choice's nondefamation claims; and (2) Choice was not defamed by the review at issue because it did not state or imply a false statement of fact. View "Choice Homes v. Donner" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Public Service Commission (PSC), which approved the application of Black Hills Nebraska Gas, LLC seeking an enlargement or extension of its natural gas mains in Sarpy County, holding that there was no error.On appeal, the Metropolitan Utilities District (MUD) contended that Black Hills' application was contrary to a 2010 order that MUD argued conclusively established that it was in the public interest for MUD to provide natural gas service to the area at issue in the application. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed, holding that the PSC had authority to determine the public interest with respect to the current application. View "In re Application No. P-12.32 of Black Hills Nebraska Gas, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from the order of the district court finding that the recommendation of a single-member special litigation committee, which was appointed to investigate and determine whether it was in an LLC's best interests to pursue a certain derivative action, was beyond the committee's statutory authority, holding that the court's order was not a final order under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1902.A minority shareholder brought suit in a derivative action on behalf of the manager-managed limited liability company at issue in this case. The committee appointed by Defendants determined that it was in the LLC's best for the derivative action to be settled on terms approved by the committee, which were to conduct a majority vote on how certain issues should be resolved. The district court concluded that the committee's recommendation for disclosure to and vote of the members was beyond the committee's statutory authority and ordered the parties to attempt mediation. Both parties appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the court's order for mediation and further recommendation was not a final order under section 25-1902. View "Tegra Corp. v. Boeshart" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law
by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals summarily dismissing Appellant's appeal from the order of the district court that dismissed her amended complaint for grandparent visitation, holding that the court of appeals erred when it dismissed the appeal rather than reversing the district court's dismissal and remanding the cause with directions.The district court dismissed Appellant's complaint with prejudice after it determined that it lacked jurisdiction because the minor child's father had not been given notice of the proceedings. The court of appeals summarily dismissed the appeal, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction over the appeal because the district court lacked jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-323 required the district court order that the father, as an indispensable party, be brought into the action before it dismissed the action for lack of an indispensable party; and (2) the court of appeals erred by endorsing this dismissal. View "Williams v. Williams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
by
Collins filed an application for informal probate of the decedent's will. The submitted will disinherited the decedent’s children, devised most of the estate to Collins, and appointed Collins as personal representative. The will was dated January 27, 2021; the decedent died on January 31. The county court granted Collins’ application, The children objected, alleging that the decedent lacked testamentary capacity and the decedent was under undue influence when he executed the 2021 will. They offered for formal probate a will, executed in 2002, under which they were to inherit the residue of the decedent’s estate. They sought an order restraining Collins from acting as personal representative.Before the court ruled on the requests, the children filed a notice of transfer to the district court. The county court found that the children’s petition commenced a formal testacy proceeding and that their notice of transfer effectuated a transfer of jurisdiction so that it lacked jurisdiction to rule on the requests for a special administrator and a restraining order. The Nebraska Supreme Court reversed. The fact that a district court has obtained, via the transfer of the will contest, “jurisdiction over the proceeding on the contest” does not divest the county court of its original jurisdiction in probate to protect the estate during the pendency of that will contest by considering the merits of a petition for a special administrator and request for a restraining order on the personal representative. View "In re Estate of Anderson" on Justia Law

by
Z.H. completed law school in 2000. In 2019 and 2020, Z.H. took the Nebraska bar examination but did not pass. Because of rheumatoid arthritis that limits her mobility, Z.H. received accommodations, but not all of the accommodations she requested. In 2021 she was required to appear in person while other applicants took the exam remotely. Z.H. averred that during the 2021 examination, which she ultimately passed, she experienced extreme mental stress, anxiety, and physical pain as well as additional scrutiny.She requested specific accommodations should she have to retake the exam and damages. Her affidavit set forth expenses to include $5,906.25 in attorney fees and mailing costs and $450,000 in damages for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101, the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 701, and the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. Z.H. sought reimbursement for hotel costs and other expenses and punitive damages. The Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, finding that the action was not authorized by rule or statute. View "In re Appeal of Z.H." on Justia Law

by
Kearney Officer Newell, dispatched to an apartment, spoke with J.S., who reported that upon leaving his garden-level apartment, he saw a man crouched down by a window to the apartment’s bathroom. J.S. did not mention seeing the individual holding a cell phone. J.S. showed Newell the path the person took in leaving. Approximately half a block from the apartment J.S. discovered a cell phone and handed it to Newell. Newell completed an affidavit. asking the judge for permission to examine the cell phone for evidence of the crime of unlawful intrusion on September 25, 2018. The search conducted pursuant to the warrant revealed multiple images of women in various states of undress and led to McGovern. Based on what was found, a second warrant was obtained in another jurisdiction. McGovern was convicted of sexual assault in the first degree, sexual assault in the third degree, and recording a person in a state of undress.The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed. The first search warrant was supported by probable cause and was sufficiently particular and because law enforcement reasonably saw evidence of a different crime during the initial search, the court did not err in overruling a suppression motion. The overall sentencing was not an abuse of discretion. View "State v. McGovern" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part an order of the district court affirming the county court's decision to overrule Defendant's motion for absolute discharge on statutory and constitutional speedy trial grounds, holding that this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction to review one claim.After he was arrested Defendant filed a motion for absolute discharge alleging violations of his statutory and constitutional speedy trial rights. The county court overruled the motion, finding that Defendant's previously-filed pretrial motions had stopped the speedy trial clock. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part, holding (1) the State met its burden of proving that time periods were excludable under Neb. Gen. Laws 29-1207(4); and (2) this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction to review Defendant's claim that he was entitled to absolute discharge under constitutional speedy trial grounds. View "State v. Webb" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law