Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of criminal conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, holding that the district court did not err in overruling Defendant's motion to suppress and that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his remaining claims of error. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err in declining to suppress evidence obtained during and derived from an electronic interception of Defendant's cellular telephone communications; (2) the district court correctly determined that the State's submission of an application to intercept Defendant's communications to the Attorney General two days prior to submitting it to the court did not violate the timing requirement of Neb. Rev. Stat. 86-291; and (3) the interception of Defendant's communications while he was outside the State of Nebraska was within the territorial jurisdiction of the court because the communications were redirected and first listened to at a Nebraska listening post. View "State v. Brye" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court in this action alleging breach of contract, conversion, and tortious interference with a business relationship of expectation, holding that Plaintiff lacked standing to bring the action in his own name. Kim Hawley, the only named plaintiff, brought this action against John Skradski alleging that he purchased a heating and air conditioning (HVAC) business from an entity affiliated with Skradski and that, after Hawley ceased operating the business, Skradski began operating the business and converted the business's assets to his use. During trial, an asset purchase agreement was received into evidence showing that the HVAC business was purchased by KNR Capital Corp. and not by Hawley individually. The district court granted Skradksi's motion for a directed verdict, finding that there was insufficient evidence of any of the three theories of recovery. The Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment and dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that Hawley failed to prove his standing to bring this suit in his own name, and therefore, the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the matter. View "Hawley v. Skradski" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of Defendants in two actions brought under Nebraska's Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (UFTA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 36-701 to 36-712, but reversed the court's grant of attorney fees as sanctions on the grounds that both actions were frivolous, holding that the fraudulent transfer actions lacked merit but that the district court abused its discretion in finding the actions as frivolous. The creditors here alleged that a blanket security agreement guaranteeing repayment of a loan by a wife to her husband was a fraudulent transfer under the UFTA. The district court concluded, after a trial, that there was no actual intent to hinder, delay, or defraud any creditor under the UFTA and that the wife had proved good faith. The court then granted the wife attorney fees. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the award of sanctions, holding that the actions were not frivolous under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-824; and (2) affirmed the judgments of dismissal, holding that the creditors failed to identify and prove there was any "property" at issue in these cases and thus failed to prove that there was a "transfer" under the UFTA. View "Korth v. Luther" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of attempted possession of a burglar's tools and sentence of one year in jail with credit for twenty-three days served, holding that there was no abuse of discretion in the sentence imposed. On appeal, Defendant argued that his sentence was excessive and that the district court erred by awarding him insufficient credit for time served against his jail sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err by granting Defendant only twenty-three days of credit against his one-year jail sentence; and (2) where the record demonstrated that the court considered all of the relevant sentencing factors and clearly articulated its rationale for imposing the one-year jail sentence, there was no abuse of discretion in the sentence imposed. View "State v. Harms" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences for four counts of first degree sexual assault, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not commit plain error when it admitted the DNA evidence that linked Defendant to the assaults; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it overruled Defendant's motion to remove counsel and appoint substitute counsel; and (3) regarding Defendant's claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, either the record on direct appeal showed the claim was without merit or that the record was not sufficient to review the claim. View "State v. Weathers" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal of the district court's judgment revoking Appellant's post release supervision and ordering that he serve the entirety of the time remaining on his post release supervision term in jail, holding that because Appellant had completely served his sentence, his appeal was moot. Appellant was convicted of a felony offense in one district court and multiple felony and misdemeanor offenses in another district court. Both sentences included terms of incarceration and terms of post release supervision. After Appellant served the incarceration portion of his sentences and had been released the State filed a motion in one district court alleging that he had violated the terms of his postrelease supervision. The court revoked Defendant's postrelease supervision and ordered that he serve the time remaining on his postrelease supervision in jail. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court ordered that he serve more time in jail that was allowable by law. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Appellant's completion of the sentence rendered his appeal moot, and none of the exceptions to the mootness doctrine applied. View "State v. Roberts" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of first degree murder, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting DNA analysis conducted by using TrueAllele probabilistic genotyping software over Defendant's challenges pursuant to Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), and Schafersman v. Agland Coop, 631 N.W.2d 862 (2001). DNA evidence presented at Defendant's jury trial linked him to the murder for which he was convicted. During the jury trial, Defendant raised Daubert/Schafersman challenges to the DNA evidence, challenging TrueAllele's methodology. The district court admitted the evidence, applying the Daubert/Schafersman analytical framework and determining that the methodology of TrueAllele probabilistic genotyping was reliable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing admission of the TrueAllele evidence. View "State v. Simmer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the district court's determinations that a portion of Husband's 401K and proceeds from an inheritance constituted nonmarital property, holding that the court did not abuse its discretion in setting off property as non marital in accordance with Husband's testimony. In reversing, the court of appeals found that Husband did not meet his burden of proving that his 401K had a value of $130,000 at the time of his marriage to Wife and did not prove the amount he inherited from his father. Husband appealed, arguing that the court of appeals erred in determining that because he offered no documentary evidence at trial to support his undisputed testimony he failed to meet his burden of proof that he had $130,000 in a 401K at the time of marriage and that he received a $60,000 inheritance during the marriage. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the court of appeals erred in determining that documentary evidence is necessary to establish a claim to non marital property and that a nonmarital value must be proved definitively; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding Husband's testimony to be credible and setting off the amounts claimed as nonmarital. View "Burgardt v. Burgardt" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court overruling Appellant's motion to revive a judgment she obtained against Appellee more than two decades ago after Appellee stopped making payments, holding that the district court correctly overruled the motion for revivor on the ground that it was untimely. Appellant never executed on the judgment she obtained against Appellee, but Appellee made payments to her beginning in 1996 and ending in 2017. In 2018, Appellant filed a motion for revivor of the judgment. The district court overruled the motion as untimely, concluding that Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-216, which provides that partial payments generally toll the limitations period in contract actions, did not extend the time period for Appellant to seek reviver of a judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the judgment had become dormant and that the time period to revive it had expired. View "Nelssen v. Ritchie" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellant's second amended motion for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing, holding that Appellant was not entitled to postconviction relief for his constitutional claims. Appellant's constitutional claims in his motion for postconviction relief alleged that he was shackled during jury selection, the sentencing scheme requiring a judge to make factual findings to impose the death penalty was unconstitutional, and his constitutional rights were violated by the Legislature's passing a bill repealing the death penalty but a public referendum reimposing it. The district court denied postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that each of Appellant's constitutional claims failed. View "State v. Mata" on Justia Law