Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming Defendant's conviction of misdemeanor driving under the influence (DUI), holding that Defendant's allegations of error were without merit. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in affirming the county court's admission of evidence offered at trial that was not disclosed to him and erred in sentencing him because the prior conviction the court relied upon for a second offense was not disclosed to Defendant prior to sentencing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant's arguments regarding discovery violations were rejected due to Defendant's failure to seek a continuance, and there was no prejudice owing to any belated disclosures on the State's part. View "State v. Hatfield" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for first degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's assignments of error. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err in overruling Defendant's motion to suppress the search of his cell phone; (2) the district court did not err in admitting eight photographic exhibits over Defendant's objections and in concluding that multiple photographs of the same wounds on the victim were not unfairly prejudicial; and (3) eight of Defendant's eighteen claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were either without merit or not alleged with sufficient particularity, and the Court was unable to resolve Defendant's remaining claims of ineffective assistance. View "State v. Stelly" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court sentencing Defendant to probation and imposing various terms of probation in connection with Defendant's plea of guilty to driving under the influence, second offense, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to modify one of the probation terms. The district court sentenced Defendant to jail for thirty days and probation for twenty-four months and revoked Defendant's driver's license for eighteen months. Defendant later filed a motion to modify the terms of his probation requesting that the district court remove the terms probation relating to firearms. The district court denied modification, finding that Defendant had not identified a material change in circumstances or any other reason that would entitle him to the relief sought. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that there was not a sufficient change in circumstances so as to entitle Defendant to a modification of the conditions of probation. View "State v. Paulsen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the county court declining to terminate the guardianship of Child or to grant Mother visitation, holding that the county court's findings were supported by competent evidence. In 2014, Mother's parents (Grandparents) were appointed as coguardians for Child. Thereafter, Mother was convicted of child abuse for failing to protect Child from sexual abuse while in Mother's care. In 2017, Mother filed a motion to terminate the guardianship and a motion to reinstate visitation. After a trial, the county court entered an order denying Mother's motions. The court of appeals affirmed, finding that it was in Child's best interests for the guardianship to remain in place and for there to be no visitation. The Supreme Court affirmed, although based on different reasoning than that of the court of appeals, holding that the county court's determination that, at the time of trial, Mother was unfit to parent Child was supported by competent evidence. View "In re Guardianship of K.R." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for electronically offering to perform oral sex upon a police decoy portraying a fourteen-year-old girl, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting Neb. R. Evid. 404 evidence and that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting rule 404 evidence of a sexually explicit online chat with another underage woman, and (2) his solicitation of "eating you out" was not sufficient to support the conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the rule 404 evidence was properly admitted as to motive and absence of mistake or accident; and (2) the evidence was sufficient for a jury to find the solicitation "indecent, lewd, lascivious, or obscene" to support the conviction. View "State v. Thomas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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In this paternity action, the Supreme Court held that a blanket rule disfavoring joint physical custody is inconsistent with the Parenting Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-2920 to 43-2943, which requires that all determinations of custody and parenting time be based on factors affecting the best interests of the child, thus disapproving of its prior rule disfavoring joint physical custody. The district court entered an ordering finding Father was Child's father. Two years later, the court awarded primary legal and physical custody of Child to Father and awarded Mother nearly equal parenting time. Father appealed, arguing that the award of nearly equal parenting time was effectively an award of joint physical custody and an abuse of discretion. Relying on Nebraska precedent holding that joint physical custody is disfavored, the court of appeals remanded with directions to modify Mother's parenting time so it was "consistent with an award of primary physical custody" to Father. The Supreme Court reexamined that precedent and held (1) Nebraska law does not favor or disfavor any particular custody arrangement and instead requires all such determinations be based on the best interests of the child; and (2) there was no abuse of discretion in the custody and parenting time in the instant case. View "State, ex rel. Kaaden S. v. Jeffery T." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the Public Service Commission's (PSC) grant of an application filed by TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP for approval of a major oil pipeline route and eminent domain authority and finding that the "Mainline Alternative Route" (MAR) was in the public interest, holding that TransCanada carried its burden of proving that the MAR was in the public interest and that the errors assigned by intervenors in the proceedings were without merit. The MAR approved by the PSC was a thirty-six-inch major oil pipeline and related facilities to be constructed through Nebraska. Landowners, two Indian tribes, and the Sierra Club all intervened in the proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed on appeal, holding (1) the PSC had jurisdiction to consider TransCanada's application; (2) TransCanada met its burden of proof; (3) the PSC properly considered the MAR; and (4) the intervenors were afforded due process. View "TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP v. Dunavan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellants' claims of defamation and product disparagement under Nebraska's Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (UDTPA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 87-301 to 87-306, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Appellees were entitled to summary judgment on Appellants' claims. Appellants were tanning salons that, from 2015 to 2017, allegedly accounted for up to seventy-one percent of the known tanning salons in the Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska markets. Appellees engaged in activities related to cancer education and prevention, focusing in 2014 on the dangers of indoor tanning. In 2015, Appellants filed a complaint alleging violations of the UDTPA for deceptive trade practices and product disparagement and defamation. The district court granted Appellees' motion for summary judgment and dismissed Appellants' claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that there were no genuine disputes as to any material facts and that Appellees were entitled to summary judgment on Appellants' defamation and product disparagement claims. View "JB & Associates, Inc. v. Nebraska Cancer Coalition" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court overruling Defendant's motion for discharge on statutory and constitutional speedy trial grounds, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Defendant was not entitled to discharge. The State filed an information against Defendant charging him with theft by receiving stolen property and other offenses. After the trial was continued several times Defendant filed a motion for discharge on statutory and constitutional speedy trial grounds. The district court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed after applying the four factor-test set forth in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972), holding that neither Defendant's statutory nor constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated. View "State v. Lovvorn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the county court construing Joan Jane Barger's will, holding that the court did not err. In this contest between family members over the decedent's will, the Supreme Court held that the county court did not err by (1) considering extrinsic evidence after failing to determine whether the will was ambiguous; (2) finding that Joan's intent was to distribute her property designated as property held by a trust even though the trust had been terminated; (3) determining the trust was terminated prior to Joan's death; and (4) finding that certain children were not prohibited from taking under article V of the will due to an earlier will contest. View "In re Estate of Barger" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates