Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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When he was seventeen years old, Defendant pled guilty to first degree murder. Defendant was sentenced to a mandatory term of life imprisonment. Pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, Defendant’s sentence was vacated. After a hearing, Defendant was resentenced to ninety years to life imprisonment. Defendant appealed, alleging, inter alia, that his sentence violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and the principles set forth in Miller and Graham v. Florida. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s sentence did not violate Miller; (2) Defendant’s sentence was not disproportionate; and (3) the district court adequately considered Defendant’s age and age-related characteristics and used adequate procedural safeguards when sentencing Defendant. View "State v. Nollen" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and tampering with a witness. The Supreme Court affirmed on appeal. Defendant subsequently filed a fourth amended motion for postconviction relief, alleging, in part, that trial counsel provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. The district court denied postconviction relief on all grounds. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err by not finding trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective; and (2) the district court did not err in not finding Defendant’s constitutional rights were violated because he was allegedly unable to understand one of the court interpreters during trial. View "State v. Alarcon-Chavez" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to kidnapping, a crime he committed when he was sixteen years old. Defendant was initially sentenced to life imprisonment. After the U.S. Supreme Court decided Graham v. Florida and Miller v. Alabama, Defendant filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus. The district court determined that Defendant was entitled to relief under Graham and vacated his life sentence. Thereafter, Defendant was resentenced to ninety years to life imprisonment. Defendant appealed that sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the sentence was not excessive, nor did it violate the 8th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution or the principles set forth in Graham. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree assault, robbery, attempted robbery, and four counts of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s Batson challenge regarding a prospective juror who had been removed by the State using a peremptory strike; (2) any error in sustaining the State’s objection to evidence Defendant wanted to offer to impeach one of the State’s witnesses was harmless; (3) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion for new trial on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct and newly discovered evidence; and (4) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s convictions. View "State v. Lester" on Justia Law

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David Leon Frederick sent a public records request to the City of Falls City administrator requesting certain records in the physical custody of Falls City and the Falls City Economic Development and Growth Enterprise, Inc. (EDGE). The administrator provided records in the physical custody of Falls City, but EDGE’s executive director refused to provide the requested records to Frederick or Falls City, claiming that EDGE was not a public entity and that its records were not public records. The Supreme Court agreed with EDGE and reversed the district court’s order compelling EDGE to produce the requested records. After Frederick learned that Falls City did not produce all requested records in its possession pursuant to his public record request, he filed a motion to reopen his case against the City and EDGE. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in overruling Frederick’s motion to reopen the case because reopening the case would not lead to any remedy for Frederick. View "Frederick v. City of Falls City" on Justia Law

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After a bench trial on stipulated facts, Defendant was found guilty of refusal of a chemical test in violation of Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-6,197. Defendant appealed, arguing, primarily, that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because the traffic stop was conducted without reasonable suspicion and that section 6-6,197.09 and related statutes are unconstitutional because they are void for vagueness. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress; (2) section 60-6,197.09 is not unconstitutionally vague; and (3) Defendant was not denied due process when he was denied probation. View "State v. Arizola" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of driving under the influence and refusing to submit to a chemical test. Both convictions were second offenses. Defendant appealed, challenging the county court’s refusal to grant his motion to quash the charge of refusal to submit to a chemical yes and his motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of his arrest. Specifically, Defendant argued that criminalizing refusal was a violation of the constitutional rights to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures and that there was not probable cause to support his arrest. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the county court did not err when it overruled Defendant’s motion to quash and his motion to suppress; and (2) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions. View "State v. Pester" on Justia Law

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After a jury-waived trial, Defendant was convicted of first degree sexual assault committed while he was a juvenile. The district court sentenced Defendant to one year’s imprisonment, ordered him to register under Sex Offender Registration Act for life, and found that Defendant was subject to lifetime community supervision. Defendant appealed, arguing that the lifetime requirements were cruel and unusual punishments because he was a juvenile while the crime was committed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in (1) sentencing Defendant to lifetime sex offender registration and lifetime community supervision when he committed the aggravated offense as a juvenile; and (2) sentencing Defendant to lifetime community supervision. View "State v. Boche" on Justia Law

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Kristina Hartley filed a gender discrimination action against Metropolitan Utilities District of Omaha (MUD) under the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act (NFEPA), alleging that she was not promoted because of gender discrimination and that MUD’s stated reasons for promoting a male colleague instead of her were pretextual. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Hartley. The district court awarded Hartley $56,800 for attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in excluding post promotional performance evaluations of Hartley; (2) the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict; and (3) the attorney fees awarded to Hartley were not excessive. View "Hartley v. Metropolitan Utilities District of Omaha" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a trooper with the Nebraska State Patrol, was an applicant for a lateral transfer to the position of “Executive Protection Trooper.” After another applicant was awarded the position, Plaintiff filed a public records request under Neb. Rev. Stat. 84-712 seeking records relating to the interview and selection process for the Executive Protection Trooper position. The State Patrol denied Plaintiff’s request. Plaintiff sought a writ of mandamus in the district court again seeking the records that were the subject of his public records request. The trial court denied Plaintiff’s petition, concluding that the records could be withheld under section 84-712.05(7). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in denying Plaintiff’s petition for writ of mandamus because the records Plaintiff sought to view were exempted under section 84-712.05(7). View "Steckelberg v. Nebraska State Patrol" on Justia Law