Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of restitution entered by the separate juvenile court after Juvenile admitted to an amended allegation of disturbing the peace and quiet of another person, holding that the juvenile court had the authority to order restitution for medical expenses so long as such order was in the interest of the juvenile's reformation or rehabilitation.As a term of probation, the juvenile court ordered Juvenile to pay $500 in restitution for the victim's medical expenses. Juvenile court argued on appeal that the Nebraska Juvenile Code does not authorize a juvenile court to order restitution for medical expenses incurred by a victim. The Supreme Court affirmed the order of restitution for medical expenses, holding (1) Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-286(1)(a) authorized the juvenile court to order Juvenile to pay restitution for medical expenses; and (2) there was sufficient evidence to support a finding that Juvenile caused the victim's injuries and to support the amount of restitution ordered, and the order of restitution was in the interest of Juvenile's reformation and rehabilitation. View "In re Interest of Seth C." on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law
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In case No. S-20-009, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the juvenile court denying Father's motion for placement, and in case No. S-20-244, affirmed the order of adjudication of the child over Father's objection, holding that the juvenile court erred in finding Father unfit and in denying his parental preference for physical custody.The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services was given temporary custody of the child and placed him in temporary foster care. After Father became aware that the child was in foster care he moved for temporary physical placement. The juvenile court denied the motion and proceeded with adjudication of the child. In case No. S-20-009, Father appealed the denial of his motion for placement. In case No. S-20-244, Father argued that his appeal in case No. S-20-009 divested the juvenile court of jurisdiction to issue the adjudication. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the order denying Father's motion for placement, holding that because Father was not given notice that his fitness or forfeiture were to be adjudicated at the hearing on his motion for placement, the juvenile court could not properly deprive him of his right to custody under the parental preference doctrine; and (2) affirmed the order of adjudication in case No. S-20-244, holding that the order of adjudication was not void. View "In re Interest of A.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court summarily denying Defendant's motion to vacate or modify seeking reinstatement of his appeal a postconviction ruling, holding that the district court erred when it denied Defendant's motion without a hearing.Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. After Defendant brought an unsuccessful appeal he filed a petition for postconviction relief. The district court denied the petition without an evidentiary hearing. Defendant filed a timely notice of appeal, but his request to proceed in forma pauperis and the accompanying poverty affidavit were not timely filed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Defendant subsequently filed in the district court a motion to vacate or modify, seeking reinstatement of his appeal on the grounds that the negligent acts of prison officials in the mailroom at the penitentiary delayed the filing of his poverty affidavit. The district court denied the motion without a hearing. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a hearing on the motion, holding that Defendant's claim of official negligence was sufficient to obtain a hearing at which to submit proof to the court of his allegation of official negligence. View "State v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court dismissed Tenant's appeal from an order of summary judgment in favor of Landlord on Landlord's claim seeking restitution of the premises pursuant to the forcible entry and detainer (FED) statutes, Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-21,219 through 25-21,235, holding that this Court was without jurisdiction over the appeal.Tenant failed to pay rent and refused to vacate the premises. Landlord subsequently brought this action for restitution pursuant to the FED statutes and also brought claims for breach of the lease agreement and breach of the guaranty agreement. Tenant counterclaimed, asserting several claims. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Landlord on its FED claim, but the order did not resolve the remaining claims of either party. Tenant appealed but did not seek a Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1315 certification from the district court. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the order of restitution disposing of the FED action did not satisfy section 25-1315(1), and therefore, this Court was without jurisdiction over Tenant's appeal. View "TDP Phase One, LLC v. Club at the Yard, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences for second degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, holding that there was no merit to the errors assigned and argued by Defendant.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err in declining to direct a verdict and finding the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant's convictions; (2) the district court did not err in determining that the evidence supported a conviction of second degree murder rather than sudden quarrel manslaughter; (3) the district court did not err in overruling Defendant's insanity defense; and (4) the district court did not impose excessive sentences. View "State v. Stack" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of first degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, holding that the district court did not err in admitting cell phone records for Defendant's phone and statements Defendant made to law enforcement.Prior to trial, Defendant filed motions to suppress his cell phone records and statements he made to law enforcement, arguing that the warrant authorizing the search of Defendant's cell phone records was obtained without probable cause and that his Miranda rights were violated when he invoked his right to remain silent and officers continued to question him. The district court denied the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in admitting cell site location information evidence at trial; and (2) Defendant waived any right to assert error in the denial of his motion to suppress his statements made to law enforcement. View "State v. Cox" on Justia Law

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In this marital dissolution action, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals to the extent it affirmed the district court's disposition of Husband's 401K accounts, holding that the court of appeals and the district court erred in their application of the active appreciation rule.In its dissolution decree, the district court found that Wife should be awarded $10,500 from a 401K account owned by Husband but otherwise awarded Husband all funds in his retirement and investment accounts. The court of appeals affirmed the decree. The Supreme Court reversed in part, arguing that although the value of the 401K account at issue at the time of the parties' marriage was Husband's nonmarital property, under the active appreciation rule, the growth in that account during the marriage was marital. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the increase in the value of the 401K account should have been treated as marital property subject to equitable division, and the lower courts abused their discretion in finding otherwise. View "Higgins v. Currier" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court dismissing Benjamin M.'s amended complaint seeking to establish custody, support, and parenting time, holding that the district court erred in failing to give proper legal effect to the two notarized acknowledgments of paternity Benjamin filed contemporaneously with his amended complaint.Benjamin and Jeri were the parents of two minor children, F.M. and L.M. The parents executed notarized acknowledgments of paternity for each child. Benjamin later filed a complaint seeking to establish paternity, child support, and parenting time. Jeri moved to dismiss the action as time-barred. Thereafter, Benjamin filed an amended complaint to establish child custody, child support, and parenting time and offered into evidence certified copies of the notarized acknowledgements of paternity for both children. The district court dismissed the case as being time-barred. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the cause for further proceedings, holding (1) where there is a properly executed and unchallenged acknowledgment of paternity, an action for establishment of paternity should be treated solely as an action to determine the issues of custody and support; and (2) the district court erred in failing to give proper legal effect to the signed, notarized acknowledgments of paternity in this case. View "Benjamin M. v. Jeri S." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for driving under the influence (DUI), fourth offense, holding that the district court did not err by receiving evidence of a prior conviction offered by the State in support of sentence enhancement.Defendant pleaded guilty to DUI and driving under suspension. At a sentence enhancement proceeding, the State sought to introduce evidence of Defendant's three prior DUI convictions. Defendant objected to the admission of records of his 2010 DUI conviction, arguing that those records did not affirmatively show that he had counsel or had knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived the right to counsel before entering his guilty plea in that case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err by receiving records of Defendant's 2010 DUI conviction and finding that his conviction in this case was his fourth offense. View "State v. Teppert" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding compensation totaling $4,625,967 for Elkhorn School District's taking of forty-three acres of Tribedo, LLC's property, holding that the district court did not err in its trial rulings nor in accepting the jury verdict for total compensation due to Tribedo.After the board of appraisers awarded $2,601,600 for the taking Tribedo appealed, alleging that the award did not reflect the fair market value of the property taken and did not adequately compensate for damages to the remainder of Tribedo's property. Following the jury's verdict, Elkhorn moved for a new trial. The district court denied the motion and granted Tribedo's posttrial motions for an award of interest and attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no error in the proceedings below; (2) the district court did not err when it accepted the jury verdict; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it awarded Tribedo $590,925 in attorney fees. View "Douglas County School District No. 10 v. Tribedo, LLC" on Justia Law