Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court held that the district court erred in sustaining Defendant's motion to quash an information for revocation of probation, holding that a probation violation allegation asserting a law violation from a new charge of possession of methamphetamine is not a "substance abuse" violation having a prerequisite of ninety days of cumulative custodial sanctions. Defendant was convicted of possession of methaphetamine. The court imposed a sentence of specialized substance abuse supervision probation. One of the conditions of probation required Defendant to "not use or possess any controlled substance." Eight months later, the State filed an information for revocation of probation alleging that Defendant intentionally possessed methamphetamine. Defendant moved to quash the information for revocation of probation, claiming that, under Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2267(3), revocation proceedings could not be instituted for a substance abuse violation because the State did not allege or show that she had served ninety days of cumulative custodial sanctions during the probation term. The Supreme Court sustained the State's exception and remanded the cause for further proceedings, holding that Defendant's alleged violation was not a substance abuse violation but a law violation, and therefore, the district court erred in quashing the information for revocation of probation. View "State v. Jedlicka" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting the State's motion to dismiss Appellant's motion for DNA testing under the DNA Testing Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-4116 to 29-4125, holding that the district court's factual findings were not clearly erroneous, and the court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the motion for DNA testing. Defendant entered no contest pleas to aiding and abetting second degree murder and aiding and abetting first degree sexual assault. Defendant later filed a motion seeking DNA testing of numerous items of evidence under the DNA Testing Act. The court authorized testing on four items of evidence. After receiving the DNA test results the State moved to dismiss the proceeding, alleging that the results neither exonerated nor exculpated Defendant. The district court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly dismissed the proceeding. View "State v. Amaya" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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In this case concerning the interpretation of a contingency fee for legal services between the City of Falls City, Nebraska and two law firms, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court concluding that no fees were due under the agreement or on the firms' equitable claim and granting summary judgment for Falls City as to the claims under the fee agreement, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing both the contract and equitable claims. This appeal centered around a fee dispute between Falls City and the attorneys representing Falls City in prior litigation. The district court concluded that the contingency under the fee agreement was not met and that, thus, the first were not entitled to a fee under the agreement. The district court further concluded that the firms had no equitable rights to assert against Falls City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no merit to the firms' claim that they were entitled to a fee under the agreement and that there was no merit to the firms' equitable claim. View "DH-1, LLC v. City of Falls City" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Midwest Renewable Energy, LLC's motion to quash execution of a judgment, holding that there was no merit in Midwest Renewable's appeal. In 2010, a judgment against Midwest Renewable, the judgment debtor in this case, was transcribed. This was the second appeal brought by Midwest Renewable challenging the ownership of that judgment. Midwest Renewable argued in the first appeal that the original judgment creditor, Western Ethanol, had no interest in the judgment because it had been assigned to Douglas Vind, the managing member of Western Ethanol who requested execution after Western Ethanol dissolved. Here Midwest Renewable argued that there was no valid assignment to Vind. The district court agreed, finding that the judgment had been assigned to Vind. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Midwest Renewable's assignments of error were without merit. View "Western Ethanol Co. v. Midwest Renewable Energy" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts
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In this insurance dispute, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment to Shelter Mutual Insurance Company on its declaratory judgment action, holding that Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-310 does not allow provisions known as partial household exclusion clauses. Larry Freudenburg was injured in an accident where he was the passenger in a car covered by a policy Freudenburg and his wife had purchased from Shelter. Shelter refused to pay Freudenburg's request for reimbursement of expenses in the amount of the policy limit for bodily injury based on a partial household exclusion clause in Freudenburg's policy. Partial household exclusion clauses reduce automobile liability coverage from the policy amount to the state minimum when the injured person is an insured, relative, or resident of the insured's household. The district court concluded that partial household exclusions are not prohibited by section 60-310. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that an automobile liability policy policy in any coverage amount is not permitted to exclude or reduce liability coverage under the policy on the ground that the claimant is a named insured or resident in the named insured's household. View "Shelter Mutual Insurance Co. v. Freudenburg" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the county court establishing a guardianship for an Indian child, holding that the guardianship proceeding was governed by the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Act (NICWA) and that the required showing under ICWA and NICWA was not made in this case. Grandmother sought to establish a guardianship for a Native American child over the objection of Mother. At the conclusion of the evidence at trial, the county court stated that it had found a sufficient basis for the appointment of Grandmother as the child's guardian. The court did not mention ICWA or NICWA in its written order appointing Grandmother as guardian for the child. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the cause with directions to vacate the guardianship, holding (1) ICWA and NICWA applied to the guardianship proceeding; and (2) the guardianship proceeding failed to comply with ICWA and NICWA. View "In re Guardianship of Eliza W." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the district court's motion for postconviction relief without a hearing, holding that because Appellant did not even attempt to demonstrate that he was prejudiced as a result of appellate counsel's deficient performance, Appellant was not entitled to postconviction relief. After Appellant's convictions were affirmed on appeal Appellant filed a petition for postconviction relief. As the basis for his petition, Appellant argued that his appellate counsel was ineffective and that he was not required to demonstrate that he was prejudiced by his counsel's deficient performance. The district court denied postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant was required to demonstrate prejudice under Strickland and failed to do so. View "State v. Assad" on Justia Law

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In this will contest, the Supreme Court reversed the district court's decision granting summary judgment determining that the decedent's will was valid, holding that where the bill of exceptions did not contain the proponent's evidence there was no evidence to support the summary judgment for the proponent. After Appellee filed an application for informal probate in county court Appellant filed an objection. The matter was transferred to district court, which entered summary judgment determining that the decedent left a valid will. Appellant appealed. The bill of exceptions, however, contained only Appellant's evidence, and Appellee's evidence did not appear in the bill. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the matter, holding that because Appellee did not produce her evidence in a manner so as to be included in a bill of exceptions she effectively failed to make a prima facie case. View "Bohling v. Bohling" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates
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The Supreme Court modified a decree dissolving Timothy White's marriage to Ann White, holding that Tim established that part of an investment account was nonmarital, and therefore, that account was not properly classified as marital property. The main issue in this appeal was whether the growth in value of one investment account, which was derived from a nonmarital source, was properly classified as marital property. The Supreme Court affirmed the decree as modified, holding (1) Tim failed to meet his burden to prove that the growth was not due to the active efforts of either spouse; (2) the district court erred in classifying certain holdings in another investment account as marital property; and (3) there was no abuse of discretion regarding the court's division of a tax liability, order fo an equalization payment, and valuation date of the marital assets and liabilities of the parties. View "White v. White" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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In this declaratory judgment action, the Supreme Court reversed the district court's decision entering summary judgment in favor of Gage County's insurer, Employers Mutual Casualty Company (EMC), and dismissing Gage County's claim that EMC had defense and indemnity obligations for federal court judgments entered against Gage County in 2016, holding that it was error to grant summary judgment for EMC. The district court granted EMC's summary judgment motion and denied Gage County's partial summary judgment motion, ruling that a commercial general liability policy's professional services exclusion barred coverage under the CGL policy for all claims brought against Gage County in the earlier litigation and that there was no coverage under either a linebacker policy or an umbrella policy. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the cause with directions to sustain Gage County's motion for partial summary judgment, holding that the professional services exclusion in the CGL policy did not preclude coverage for Gage County's insurance claims. View "Gage County v. Employers Mutual Casualty Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law