Articles Posted in Constitutional 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 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

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Appellant appealed the district court’s order that overruled his motion for postconviction relief without conducting an evidentiary hearing. Appellant pled no contest to one count of first degree false imprisonment and one count of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. In his postconviction motion, Appellant claimed that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in several respects. After reviewing all of Appellant’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, the Supreme Court held that the district court did not err when it overruled Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief without conducting an evidentiary hearing. View "State v. Barrera-Garrido" on Justia Law

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In this mandamus action, the State Court Administrator appealed from the district court’s denial of his motion for summary judgment and issuance of the writ of mandamus ordering the disclosure, pursuant to Nebraska’s public records statutes, of Judicial Branch Education (JBE) records regarding judicial educational programs on child custody and parenting time. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in concluding that the JBE records constitute public records and do not fall within any exception to the public records definition; and (2) the application of the public records statutes to the JBE records does not violate separation of powers as set forth in the Nebraska Constitution. View "State ex rel. Veskrna v. Steel" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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Plaintiffs were three same-sex couples who sought to enjoin Defendants from enforcing a 1995 administrative memorandum and from restricting gay and lesbian individuals and couples from being considered or selected as foster or adoptive parents. Plaintiffs generally alleged that the policy violated equal protection and due process and violated 42 U.S.C. 1983. The court ordered the memorandum rescinded and stricken and enjoined Defendants and those acting in concert with them from enforcing the memorandum and/or applying a categorical ban such as the one at issue in this case. Defendants appealed, arguing that Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring this case, that there was no case or controversy, and that the lawsuit became moot when the policy memorandum was removed from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website after Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment was filed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the underlying action was justiciable; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding costs and attorney fees. View "Stewart v. Heineman" on Justia Law

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The Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement (N-CORPE), a political subdivision of the State of Nebraska, brought condemnation proceedings against Appellant seeking an easement across Appellant’s real estate. In response, Appellant filed a complaint for injunction against board members of the N-CORPE project and N-CORPE (collectively, Appellees), alleging, inter alia, that N-CORPE does not have the power of eminent domain. In addition, Appellant filed an application for temporary restraining order and a motion for temporary injunction, both of which the district court denied. The district court then granted Appellees’ motion for summary judgment and dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) N-CORPE had the authority to exercise the power of eminent domain; (2) N-CORPE did not need certain permits and approvals as alleged by Appellant; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Appellant’s motion to amend the complaint; (4) N-CORPE is not prohibited by common law from removing ground water from overlying land; and (5) there is not material issue of fact regarding whether the condemnation is for a public use. View "Estermann v. Bose" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the district court did not err by (1) failing to grant Defendant’s motion to suppress Defendant’s statements made to law enforcement because the statements were not obtained in violation of Miranda v. Arizona; (2) denying Defendant’s Batson challenge claiming that the prosecution impermissibly struck prospective jurors on the basis of race; and (3) denying Defendant’s motion for mistrial that alleged that the court improperly allowed testimony in violation of Brady v. Maryland. View "State v. Clifton" on Justia Law