Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court convicting Defendant of two counts of sexual assault of a child in the first degree and one count each of attempted sexual assault of a child in the first degree, sexual assault of a child in the third degree, and incest with a victim age seventeen or under, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his allegations of error. After convicting Defendant the district court sentenced him to an aggregate period of 100 years' to life imprisonment, plus an additional term of imprisonment of thirty-two to seventy-three years. Defendant appealed, assigning several evidentiary errors and alleging that the district court inappropriately instructed the jury regarding venue. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion as to the challenged evidentiary rulings; (2) regarding the jury instructions, Defendant was not prejudiced as to necessitate a reversal; (3) the sentencing court did not abuse its discretion, and Defendant's sentences were not excessive; and (4) Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel. View "State v. Lee" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the termination of Mother's parental rights to one, but not both, of her minor children, holding that the indistinguishable progress made by Mother with both children did not support a sufficient factual basis that termination of her parental rights was in the best interests of only one child. In affirming the termination of Mother's parental rights the court of appeals affirmed the juvenile court's decision to accept Mother's admissions as a voluntary relinquishment of her parental rights to one child and challenged the termination of her parental rights. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the factual basis was insufficient to support that termination of Mother's parental rights to one of her children was in that child's best interests. View "In re Interest of Donald B." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the court of appeals' decision reducing Terry Bortolotti's weekly income benefit awarded by the workers' compensation court from the maximum to the minimum and eliminating the award of out-of-pocket medical expenses, holding that the reduced weekly benefit was correct but that the medical expense award should be reinstated. In upholding the reduced weekly benefit, the Supreme Court held (1) the compensation court erroneously based the determination of Bortolotti's average weekly wage on a superseded and inoperative pleading, and the court of appeals' determination of average weekly wage was supported by competent evidence in the record; and (2) as to Bortolotti's medical expenses, the court of appeals failed to give Bortolotti's testimony the inferences mandated by the deferential standard of review. View "Bortolotti v. Universal Terrazzo & Tile Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal from the district court's denial of Appellant's motion requesting that the court vacate its order dismissing Appellant's petition for renewal of a domestic abuse protection order, holding that this Court does not have jurisdiction to review the denial of such a motion. On appeal, Appellant conceded that because her notice of appeal was filed more than thirty days after the initial order dismissing the petition and because her motion to vacate did not suspend or extend the deadline for filing an appeal, her appeal of the order dismissing her petition was not timely. Nonetheless, Appellant argued that the Supreme Court had jurisdiction to review the order denying her motion to vacate by other means. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that where Appellant's motion to vacate merely asserted that the order she sought to vacate was erroneous, the order was was not appealable. View "Green v. Seiffert" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the county court on an application for direction that found money Sheila Radford gave Mary Radford prior to Sheila's death was an ademption of Mary's interest in Sheila's trust, holding that the county court erred in finding the payment from Sheila to Mary constituted an ademption of Mary's share under Sheila's trust. On appeal, Mary challenged the court's application of the ademption statute, Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-2350, to the trust, and alternatively, claimed the court erred in finding that it was Sheila's intent to have the money be an ademption of Mary's interest. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the payment could not be a section 30-2350 ademption because Mary was not a devisee under Sheila's will; and (2) Sheila's payment to Mary could not constitute an ademption by satisfaction because Mary was a beneficiary under the trust and not a devisee under the will. View "In re Estate of Radford" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates
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In this case brought by a patient against his doctors the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial denying Defendants' motions for directed verdict, holding that Defendants waived any error in the court's denial of the directed verdict at the close of the patient's case by presenting evidence, and the evidence subsequently adduced established a breach of the standard of care. On appeal, Defendants argued that, during void dire, an improper "Golden Rule" discussion occurred and that the patient failed to establish a breach of the standard of care. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendants' requests for a mistrial, curative instruction, and new trial because the voir dire discussion did not rise to a Golden Rule exhortation; and (2) the court did not err in denying the doctors' motions for directed verdict at the close of all evidence because Defendants waived any error in the denial and because the evidence established a breach of the standard of care. View "Anderson v. Babbe" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Defendant's motion for postconviction relief, holding that that district court did not err in denying Defendant's postconviction claims without an evidentiary hearing and did not err in denying Defendant's request to appoint postconviction counsel. Defendant was convicted of three counts of murder and theft of deception and was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder convictions. The district court denied Defendant's claims for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing and without appointing counsel, holding that all of Defendant's claims were either insufficiently pled, affirmatively refuted by the record, or procedurally barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. View "State v. Oliveira-Coutinho" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the district court's appointment of four members to the board of directors of The Stueven Charitable Foundation, holding that the district court lacked the authority to appoint new directors. Delbert Stueven and his wife incorporated the Foundation in 1990 as a charitable nonprofit corporation. Delbert was later found incompetent, and his wife died. In 2018, the Foundation and Kristy Cavanaugh, the secretary of the Foundation, filed a petition seeking the appointment of additional directors despite there not being a vacancy on the board. The district court appointed four new directors to the board. Delbert, by and through his guardian and conservator, Shelley Stueven Mallory, appealed. The Supreme Court vacated the court's appointment of directors, holding that the Foundation's bylaws and articles allow the district court to appoint new directors only when there was a vacancy on the board and that Neb. Rev. Stat. 21-1917 does not independently authorize a district court to appoint new members to the board of a nonprofit corporation. View "In re Stueven Charitable Foundation" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order dismissing Defendant's motion for postconviction relief after an evidentiary hearing, holding that Defendant's postconviction motion was time barred. In his postconviction motion, Defendant argued that his trial counsel had provided ineffective assistance in four respects. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court found that Defendant had failed to show his trial counsel performed deficiently and, therefore, dismissed the motion for postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, albeit on different grounds, holding that Defendant's postconviction motion was filed outside the one-year limitations period under Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-3001(4)(a) and thus was time barred. View "State v. Koch" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of knowing and intentional child abuse resulting in death and prison sentence of fifty-five to seventy-five years in prison, holding that there was no merit to any of Defendant's assignments of error. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the trial court did not err in (1) overruling Defendant's motion to suppress; (2) overruling Defendant's plea in abatement; (3) overruling Defendant's motion to quash and rejecting her constitutional challenges; (4) finding Defendant guilty of intentional child abuse resulting in death; and (5) imposing Defendant's sentence. View "State v. Montoya" on Justia Law