Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the district court sustaining Defendants’ motion for summary judgment and overruling Plaintiff’s motion to alter or amend the judgment in this action brought by Plaintiff against the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska and Kevin Ruser. In her complaint, Plaintiff asserted claims of discriminatory wage and employment practices based on her sex, as well as claims of employment retaliation arising from occurrences while she was a supervising attorney for the civil clinic law program at the University of Nebraska College of Law. The district court concluded that Plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of wage discrimination, failure to promote because of sex, retaliation, and retaliation in violation of public policy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it sustained Defendants’ motion for summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff’s claims and did not abuse its discretion when it overruled Plaintiff’s subsequent motion to alter or amend the judgment. View "Knapp v. Ruser" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled no contest to first degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Defendant was sixteen years old at the time of the murder. Defendant’s life sentence was later vacated pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Defendant was granted a resentencing. The district court resentenced Defendant to imprisonment for eighty years to life after a hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s resentencing, holding (1) the sentencing court did not impose a de facto life sentence in violation of the Eighth Amendment and Neb. Const. art. I, 9 and 15; (2) the district court did not err when it did not make specific findings of fact regarding age-related characteristics; and (3) Defendant’s sentence of eighty years’ to life imprisonment with parole eligibility at age fifty-six was not unconstitutionally disproportionate. View "State v. Jones" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized during the detention and search of a vehicle in which she was a passenger, as well as the sentence imposed for Defendant’s possession of a controlled substance conviction. In regard to her motion to suppress, Defendant argued that the initial encounter with the lead law enforcement officer amounted to a seizure when she was detained after the officer determined that the wanted individual was not in the vehicle and that the investigatory stop was not supported by reasonable suspicion. The Supreme Court held (1) the lead officer had reasonable suspicion of illegal activity to justify the detention of the vehicle’s passengers after the officer determined that the wanted individual was not in the vehicle; and (2) the sentence imposed did not constitute an abuse of discretion. View "State v. Rogers" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court that overruled Defendant’s motion for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing. Defendant pled guilty to five counts of first degree murder and five counts of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. Defendant’s motion for postconviction relief raised numerous claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. The Supreme Court held (1) with respect to each of Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claims, the district court did not err when it concluded that Defendant failed to allege sufficient facts to demonstrate a violation of his constitutional rights and that the record affirmatively showed that Defendant was not entitled to relief; and (2) the district court did not err when it overruled Defendant’s motion for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing. View "State v. Vela" on Justia Law

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In Hike I, Leo and Joanna Hike filed a petition of appeal seeking compensation after the State exercised its power of eminent domain in 2008 to acquire a parcel of the Hikes’ property for an expansion of a highway. The Supreme Court affirmed the jury verdict rendered in the case. In 2011, before the trial in Hike I, the State’s independent contractor began construction on the property taken from the Hikes. That same month, Leo noticed damage to the brick veneer of his and Joanna’s residence. The court precluded the Hikes from offering any evidence concerning the structural damage. In 2015, the Hikes filed the instant action claiming the same structural damage that they attempted to offer as evidence in Hike I. The trial court dismissed the complaint, finding that the claim was barred by the relevant statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the two-year statute of limitations period set forth in section 25-218 governs inverse condemnation actions against the State; and (2) the district court did not err in determining that the Hikes’ claim is barred by the two-year statute of limitations. View "Hike v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction, rendered after a jury trial, for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver. Defendant argued, among other things, that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence found during a search with a warrant that was obtained as a result of observing defaced firearms during a prior warrantless search for a possible intruder at the request of a houseguest. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the facts reasonably warranted an immediate intrusion of a residence into areas where a burglar might be hiding, and therefore, the trial court did not err in overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress; (2) Defendant was not prejudiced by the admission, without a limiting instruction, of evidence of his drug use around the time specified in the information; and (3) the prosecutor did not commit misconduct during closing arguments. View "State v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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Defendant, who was convicted of violating Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-1212.04 and other offenses, appealed the district court’s denial of his motion for postconviction relief, arguing that he should have received an evidentiary hearing on his allegations. Defendant’s arguments were premised on the constitutionality of section 28-1212.04. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of postconviction relief, holding (1) the district court properly found that Defendant’s allegations raising direct constitutional challenges to section 28-1212.04 were procedurally barred; and (2) Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim did not entitle him to an evidentiary hearing because the allegations could not support a finding of deficient performance. View "State v. Ross" on Justia Law

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After a stipulated bench trial, Defendant was convicted of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. Defendant was sentenced to three to five years’ imprisonment. Defendant appealed, arguing that the evidence against him should be suppressed because there was no probable cause to support the issuance of a search warrant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were not violated when his house and vehicle were searched because the application and warrant established probable cause; and (2) officers did not exceed the scope of the search warrant when they searched a vehicle parked outside the house described in the search warrant. View "State v. Hidalgo" on Justia Law

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Defendant and his father were both charged with criminal conspiracy to commit felony theft. The district court joined the two cases for trial. Before trial, Defendant filed a motion for absolute discharge alleging that his speedy trial time had run. The district court overruled Defendant’s motion, concluding that the codefendant exclusion of Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-1207(4)(e) applied to exclude additional time. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court correctly interpreted and applied the codefendant exclusion under section 29-1207(4)(e); and (2) the trial court did not clearly err in finding that all three factors under the statute were proved by a preponderance of the evidence or in computing Defendant’s speedy trial time. View "State v. Beitel" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction for first degree sexual assault of a child, rendered after a jury trial, and his conviction of thirty-five to fifty years’ imprisonment with credit for 129 days served. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) although Defendant was represented at trial by an individual who failed to meet the substantive requirements to be a licensed attorney at trial, there was no per se violation of Defendant’s constitutional right to trial because the lead attorney for Defendant’s trial was a qualified, licensed attorney; (2) Defendant’s counsel were not constitutionally ineffective; (3) there was sufficient evidence to sustain a guilty verdict; and (4) there was no abuse of discretion in the sentence imposed. View "State v. Loding" on Justia Law