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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court convicting Defendant of driving under the influence, fifth offense, and aggravated driving under the influence (DUI), fifth offense, holding that Defendant’s trial counsel provided effective assistance and that Defendant’s sentence was not excessive. The primary issue on appeal was whether Defendant’s trial counsel was ineffective by failing to offer at an enhancement hearing available evidence that purportedly would have established that the State was precluded from relitigating a Wisconsin court’s determination that a prior conviction was invalid for enhancement purposes. The Supreme Court held (1) issue preclusion does not apply to sentence enhancement proceedings, and therefore, Defendant was not prejudiced by his trial counsel’s failure to offer into evidence at the enhancement hearing the Wisconsin motion to preclude; and (2) the district court did not err by imposing excessive sentences. View "State v. Spang" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the Workers’ Compensation Court in this attorney fee dispute between discharged lawyers and the lawyer who represented the client through a settlement, holding that because the discharged lawyers were entitled to less than the amount awarded by the compensation court under the terms of their fee agreement with their client, the order splitting the fee evenly was erroneous. During the course of his workers’ compensation action with his employer, Edward St. John switched lawyers. St. John settled his claim, and the compensation court held a hearing regarding how much St. John owed his lawyers. The compensation court concluded that one set of attorneys did not contribute more to the end result than the other and directed that Brenda Bartels and Monte Neilan, the discharged lawyers, receive $82,500, and that the lawyer who represented St. John throughout the settlement, James Zimmerman, receive $82,500. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the order splitting the fee evenly was erroneous and that Bartels and Neilan were entitled to receive $32,577.50, and Zimmerman was entitled to receive $132,422.50. View "St. John v. Gering Public Schools" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the district court convicting Defendant of three counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, holding that the trial court did not err in overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress. Defendant was arrested after law enforcement stopped and searched his person and belongings. In their search, the officers found illegal drugs and brass knuckles. The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s decision overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress after applying the community caretaking exception to the Fourth Amendment to justify Defendant’s continued detention after officers completed their initial investigation related to a reported altercation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the initial detention and investigation were reasonable and did not amount to a de facto arrest; (2) Defendant’s continued detention following the initial investigation was reasonable; and (3) the warrantless search of Defendant’s person did not violate the Fourth Amendment. View "State v. Shiffermiller" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal involving a “bridge order” entered after the adjudication of five children under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(a), who had been in Mother’s sole legal and physical custody, giving Father legal and physical custody, holding that bridge orders are not final for purposes of Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1902. A bridge order addresses solely matters of legal and physical custody and parenting time when a juvenile has been placed by the juvenile court with a legal parent. The bridge order at issue in this case was entered after five children, who had been in Mother’s legal and physical custody, were adjudicated under section 43-247(3)(a). Two of these children were placed with Father during the juvenile proceedings, and the bridge order gave Father legal and physical custody, with substantial visitation by Mother. Mother appealed, arguing that the bridge order was inappropriate under the circumstances. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, holding that a bridge order is not final for purposes of section 25-1902. View "In re Interest of Kamille C." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing Appellant’s petition seeking damages under the Nebraska Claims for Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment Act, holding that Appellant insufficiently alleged that she was innocent under Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-4603(3). Appellant was convicted for use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony and terroristic threats. After she served part of her sentence, Appellant was later pardoned by the Nebraska Board of Pardons. Appellant then filed a petition seeking damages under the Act, alleging that she was actually innocent of the crimes for which she was wrongfully convicted. The district court concluded that Appellant could not prove that she was actually innocent and dismissed her complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Appellant could not prove “actual innocence” under the Act. View "Marie v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief, holding that there was no merit to Appellant’s claims that his counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to preserve objections to certain evidence introduced at trial. Appellant was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to fifty years to life imprisonment. Appellant filed a motion for postconviction relief, which was denied without an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court reversed with respect to certain ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims and remanded for an evidentiary hearing. Thereafter, the district court held an evidentiary hearing and denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in denying Appellant postconviction relief. View "State v. Huston" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences for first degree sexual assault of a child and felony child abuse, holding that the trial court did not violate Defendant’s constitutional right of confrontation and that Defendant’s remaining claims of error were without merit. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial court erred in hearing the alleged victim’s testimony outside Defendant’s presence without adequately safeguarding Defendant’s confrontation rights, but the error was harmless; (2) the record was not sufficient to review Defendant’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel; (3) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions; and (4) the district court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal from the denial of two motions filed by Appellant in this marital dissolution case, holding that this Court lacked jurisdiction of this appeal. After a marital dissolution decree was entered adjudicating paternity of a child, David B. sought to intervene in the case as an interested party and to set aside the paternity finding within the decree of dissolution. The district court denied David’s motions, finding that David failed to act in a timely matter. David then filed two motions to reconsider, one filed within ten days of the final order, and, after it was denied, a second motion filed eleven days after the final order. The district court denied the motions. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s ensuing appeal for lack of jurisdiction because (1) David’s second motion did not terminate the time for filing an appeal and was not filed within ten days of the final order; and (2) David did not appeal within thirty days of the overruling of his first motion to reconsider, which was properly construed as a motion to alter or amend. View "Bryson L. v. Izabella L." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing eight inmates' declaratory judgment action for failure to state a claim, holding that the inmates had other equally serviceable remedies available. Plaintiffs, eight death row inmates, filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that 2015 Neb. Laws, L.B. 268, which abolished the death penalty in Nebraska, was not repealed by referendum and also sought injunctive relief preventing the Department of Correctional Services and its director from carrying out executions against Plaintiffs or indispensable parties. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that Plaintiffs had equally serviceable remedies. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Plaintiffs could not maintain a declaratory judgment claim because they had other equally serviceable remedies. View "Sandoval v. Ricketts" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court dismissed the State’s appeal from the district court’s order overruling the State’s motion to seal the grand jury documents in this case, holding that the order was not a final, appealable order. After the district court impaneled a grand jury to investigate an in-custody death and at the close of the evidence, the grand jury returned indictments against two police officers. Thereafter, the court issued an order sua sponte to make the grand jury transcript publicly available. The State then filed its motion to seal the grand jury documents. The district court overruled the motion, and the State appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the order was made during a special proceeding but was not final and appealable because it did not affect a substantial right under the circumstances of this case. View "In re Grand Jury of Douglas County" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law