Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Constitutional Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of first degree sexual assault of a child, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's claims of trial error, and Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.On appeal, Defendant argued (1) the trial court erred by, inter alia, refusing to appoint him a DNA expert and by sustaining the prosecution's objection to further use of a forensic video to refresh the victim's recollection; and (2) trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in numerous ways. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's claims of trial error were without merit; and (2) all of Defendant's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were without merit with the exception that this Court did not reach the merits of one of Defendant's ineffective assistance arguments. View "State v. Wood" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court overruling Defendant's motion for absolute discharge, in which Defendant alleged violations of his constitutional and statutory rights to a speedy trial, holding that the district court did not err.On appeal from the denial of his motion for discharge, Defendant argued that the district court erred when it concluded that continuances ordered by the court in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were for good cause and therefore should be excluded from the calculation of the time for bringing him to trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that neither Defendant's statutory nor his federal or state constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated under the circumstances of this case. View "State v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court, sitting as an appellate court, affirming the county court's denial of Defendant's motion for absolute discharge based on her statutory right to a speedy trial, holding that the county court did not clearly err in finding good cause for the judicial delays.Defendant was charged with two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence assault in the third degree. Defendant requested a jury trial. Defendant later filed a motion for absolute discharge, claiming violations of her statutory and constitutional rights to a speedy trial. The county court denied the motion. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly affirmed the county court's order denying Defendant's motion for absolute discharge under Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-1207 because the State failed to meet its burden to show that good cause existed sufficient to toll Defendant's speedy trial rights. View "State v. Chase" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to dismiss with prejudice or for absolute discharge based on late disclosures of discovery information resulting in delays Defendant argued implicated his speedy trial rights and denying Defendant's motion to suppress, holding that there was no error.On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred when it denied his motion to suppress the fruits of the search of his residence, two cell phones taken from his person incident to his unlawful arrest, information obtained from a search of the contents of his two cell phones, cell records and cell site location information from the cell phone service providers. Defendant also challenged the denial of his motion to dismiss and motion for complete discharge. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's assignments of error. View "State v. Short" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court overruling Defendant's motion for postconviction relief, holding that Defendant failed to prove that he suffered prejudice under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984).After a second trial, Defendant was convicted of three counts of first degree murder and related crimes. In his pro se motion for postconviction relief, Defendant argued that he received ineffective assistance of counsel by his counsel's failure to call impeachment witnesses. The district court denied the motion without holding an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant failed to assert an ineffective assistance of counsel claim that warranted an evidentiary hearing. View "State v. Britt" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's motion for absolute discharge, holding that Appellant's statutory speedy trial rights were not violated.On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court impermissibly shifted the burden of proof during the hearing on his motion for absolute discharge and erred in finding good cause under Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-1207(4)(f) to exclude a period of time immediately following the appointment of replacement defense counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no plain error regarding either the order of proof or the burden of proof; and (2) there was no statutory speedy trial violation, and therefore, the district court properly overruled Appellant's motion. View "State v. Coomes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and for aiding and abetting a robbery, holding that the district court did not violate Defendant's right to confrontation when it allowed a witness to testify via two-way interactive video.The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions, holding that the district court did not err when it (1) overruled Defendant's confrontation objection to the testimony of the witness at issue, who had tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing symptoms; (2) determined that the foundation was sufficient to admit the witness's testimony regarding his translation of Spanish words spoken by Defendant; (3) admitted certain Facebook messages; and (4) sentenced Defendant. Lastly, there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant's convictions. View "State v. Comacho" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dissolving the marriage of Daniel Cornwell and Melanie Cornwell, holding that the district court did not err in using the immediate offset method of valuation to value the martial portion of Daniel's pension.Both parties appealed in this case. Daniel argued that the district court erred in using the immediate offset method to value his pension. On cross-appeal, Melanie argued that the district court erred in not awarding her attorney fees and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion by using the immediate offset method of valuation and to accordingly value and divide the estate; and (2) did not err in not awarding Melanie attorney fees and costs. View "Cornwell v. Cornwell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of first degree murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony, holding that the trial court did not commit reversible error or abuse its discretion.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the district court (1) applied the correct standard and did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motions for appointment of successor trial counsel and by denying counsel's motion to withdraw; (2) did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant's request to obtain his own physical copies of discovery material; (3) did not abuse its discretion in discharging an African-American juror; (4) did not err by allowing the State to present a portion of its case in chief in Defendant's absence; and (5) Defendant was not entitled to relief on his remaining assignments of error. View "State v. Figures" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the county court determining that it lacked authority to permit adoption by a same-sex married couple, holding that the plain language of Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-101 permits a same-sex married couple to adopt a minor child.Kelly and Maria filed a petition to adopt Yasmin. The county court denied the request, determining that it did not have the authority to permit adoption by a "wife and wife." The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the county court erred in determining that it lacked jurisdiction to permit a same-sex married couple to adopt a child. View "In re Adoption of Yasmin S." on Justia Law