Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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At issue in this appeal was whether the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider Azar Webb’s 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim in the same lawsuit in which the court considered an appeal from a contested case under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and whether, as a result, the court lacked the authority to award Webb attorney fees. After the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) ended Webb’s Medicaid benefits and denied his petition for reinstatement, Webb filed a claim in the district court under the APA for unlawful termination of Medicaid eligibility, adding a claim of violation of his federal rights under section 1983. The district court reversed DHHS’ decision and ordered reinstatement of Webb’s coverage and reimbursement of medical expenses that should have been covered. The court further found in favor of Webb as to his 1983 claim and enjoined DHHS officials from denying Webb Medicaid eligibility. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that once the district court resolved Webb’s APA claim, the court had the authority to grant Webb relief under section 1983 and his request for attorney fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1988. View "Webb v. Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of possession of a controlled substance and child abuse, holding that Defendant was not unconstitutionally seized when Defendant was detained beyond the time reasonably necessary to complete the mission of the traffic stop. Defendant was driving a vehicle owned by his girlfriend when law enforcement stopped him to investigate a citizen report of dangerous driving. Defendant’s children were in the back seat of the vehicle when Defendant was stopped at a gas station. Dafter completing their routine investigation related to the stop law enforcement discovered that Defendant was driving with a suspended license and had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Thirty minutes later, the vehicle was searched by drug detection dogs. Police officers then searched the car and discovered methamphetamine. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress because the discovery of the methamphetamine was not the product of an illegal search and seizure; (2) Defendant’s assignments of error related to the evidentiary rulings at trial were unavailing; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction for child abuse. View "State v. Ferguson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court that denied Defendant’s motion for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing, holding that the district court did not err by denying Defendant’s postconviction claims without an evidentiary hearing. Defendant was convicted of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, and related firearms offenses. Defendant later filed a motion for postconviction relief alleging various claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Defendant’s motion for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing, holding that the district court did not err. View "State v. Henderson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing, holding that Appellant’s postconviction motion failed to state a claim for relief. Appellant was convicted of first degree murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony in the shooting of a police officer. Appellant later filed an amended motion for postconviction relief, alleging that he was denied the right to a fair trial, ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, and newly discovered evidence. The district court denied the motion, finding that Appellant was not entitled to an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of postconviction relief as to all of Appellant’s assignments of error, holding that Appellant’s claims were without merit. View "State v. Allen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of first-degree murder murder and second-degree arson and the sentences imposed in connection with the convictions, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions and that Defendnat's trial counsel was not ineffective. On appeal, Defendant argued that the evidence at trial was insufficient to prove the elements of her convictions and that her trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in eight respects. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions and that the record refuted Defendant’s claims of ineffective assistance. View "State v. Golyar" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying, without an evidentiary hearing, Appellant’s petition for postconviction relief, holding that Appellant was not entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his claims of prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel and that the district court did not err in dismissing Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief. In his petition, Appellant argued that the prosecutor committed several instances of misconduct and that he received ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. The district court denied the motion without an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that an evidentiary hearing was not warranted and in dismissing his claims of prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel. View "State v. Tyler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming Defendant’s convictions and sentences for three counts of first degree sexual assault of a child, one count of first degree sexual abuse, and one count of intentional child abuse, holding that the Court of Appeals did not err in concluding that there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction for first degree sexual assault. The Court further held that there was no error in the Court of Appeals’ disposition of Defendant’s assignments of error relating to (1) the admission of expert testimony concerning the behaviors and testimonial partners of child sexual assault victims, (2) a claim of prosecutorial misconduct, and (3) the admission of DNA evidence. View "State v. McCurdy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained from a traffic stop, holding that this was an investigatory traffic stop supported by reasonable suspicion. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the search of his car, arguing that the law enforcement officer did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop. The district court found that the traffic stop was supported by probable cause and overruled the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, although its reasoning differed from that of the district court, holding that the investigatory stop of Defendant’s car was supported by reasonable suspicion and was therefore constitutional. View "State v. Barbeau" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of negligent child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury and sentence of probation, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on her ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Specifically, the Court held (1) because Defendant did not file a timely motion for new trial, this Court could not consider Defendant’s arguments of error relating to the overruling of the motion; and (2) applying the standard set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), the record was insufficient to resolve Defendant’s claims that she received ineffective assistance of counsel due to counsel’s personal interest conflict. View "State v. Avina-Murillo" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming the judgment of the circuit court denying Defendant’s motion to suppress based upon the exclusionary rule’s good faith exception, holding that there was no plain error. After having submitted to a blood draw performed before the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota, __ U.S. __ (2016), Defendant was convicted for driving under the influence. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained from the traffic stop and warrantless blood draw, arguing that the exclusionary rule’s good faith exception did not apply in this case and that the State failed to raise the issue in the county court. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this Court’s holding in State v. Hoerle, 901 N.W.2d 327 (2017), controls, and the district court did not err in performing its review for plain error; and (2) there was no plain error in applying the good faith exception to warrantless pre-Birchfield blood draws or in determining that the State raised the good faith exception. View "State v. Nielsen" on Justia Law