Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court denied the district court’s order denying Defendant’s second plea in bar asserting a double jeopardy violation. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of attempted first degree sexual assault. The Supreme Court reversed the conviction and remanded for a new trial. On remand, the State filed an amended information again charging Defendant with attempted first degree sexual assault, alleging, for the first time, that the victim was mentally or physically incapable of consenting. The district court denied Defendant’s plea in bar. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, concluding that capacity to consent could not be relitigated as to the attempted first degree sexual assault charge. On remand, the State filed a second amended information alleging only that Defendant attempted to subject the victim to penile penetration without her consent. After Defendant filed a motion in limine seeking to prohibit testimony concerning capacity to consent and the court overruled the motion, Defendant filed a second plea in bar. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the second amended information did not place Defendant at risk of double jeopardy, and therefore, the district court was correct in denying his plea in bar. View "State v. Lavalleur" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder. The court held (1) the search warrant that authorized police to search for and seize any and all firearms in Defendant’s residence was constitutional because it was sufficiently particular to enable police to know what times they were authorized to search for and seize; and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting a recording of a telephone conversation that Defendant made to his ex-girlfriend from jail because the risk of unfair prejudice did not substantially outweigh the probative value of those statements. View "State v. Baker" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals, the Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the district court denying Defendants’ motions for absolute discharge. Gerard Bridgeford and Judith Bridgeford were charged with several drug-related crimes. Both defendants eventually filed separate motions for absolute discharge alleging that their statutory and constitutional speedy trial rights had been violated. The district court overruled the motions, reasoning that, under the plain language of Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-1207(4)(b), Defendants permanently waived their statutory right to a speedy trial when they requested a continuance that resulted in a trial date within the statutory six-month period’s being moved to a date outside of the statutory six-month period. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendants both permanently waived their statutory right to a speedy trial; and (2) there was no merit to Defendants’ assertions that the district court erred in failing to grant their motions for absolute discharge on the ground that their constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated. View "State v. Bridgeford" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of qualified immunity to county deputy sheriff James Roark in this action brought by Marilyn Walton pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. In her complaint, Walton alleged a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights when Roark entered Waldron’s home to serve a warrant on Waldron’s grandson. Specifically, Waldron alleged that Roark violated the knock-and-announce rule and that her arrest was unlawful. The district court ultimately granted summary judgment in favor of Roark on the basis that he was entitled to qualified immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Waldron did not meet her burden of showing that Roark violated a clearly established right in any of Waldron’s claims. View "Waldron v. Roark" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s admission of evidence obtained during a search of Defendant’s room. The district court overruled Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized from Defendant's bedroom following his consent to a search. The court found that the search warrant for the common areas of a house and a roommate’s bedroom was invalid but that Defendant voluntarily consented to the search of his bedroom and that the search was sufficiently attenuated from the invalid warrant. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the district court correctly determined that Defendant’s consent was voluntary and that it was not obtained by exploitation of the prior illegality of the search warrant. View "State v. Bray" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Plaintiff inmates and grant of injunctive relief enjoining state officials and their agents from denying the inmates a marriage ceremony via videoconference or enforcing the Department of Correctional Services’ policy that interfered with Plaintiffs’ ability to marry. The Department denied Plaintiffs’ request to marry under an internal policy that it does not transport an inmate to another facility for a marriage ceremony. The inmates were also denied a marriage ceremony via videoconferencing because the Department interpreted Neb. Rev. Stat. 42-109 to require Plaintiffs to both appear physically before an officiant. Plaintiffs sued Defendants - state officials - in their individual capacities for interfering with the inmates’ request to marry. The district court concluded that the Department’s policy impermissibly burdened the inmates’ right to marry and that its interpretation of section 42-109 was constitutionally flawed and granted an injunction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in granting the inmates juncture relief because Defendants could only be sued for injunctive relief in their official capacities. View "Gillpatrick v. Sabatka-Rine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court denying Defendant’s motion for absolute discharge, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion for discharge based on Defendant’s statutory right to a speedy trial under Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-1207(4)(b) because Defendant had permanently waived his statutory right to a speedy trial by asking for a continuance that resulted in extending the trial date beyond the statutory six-month period; and (2) there was no merit to Defendant’s constitutional speedy trial claim. View "State v. Gill" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion for a new trial, holding that the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule applied in this case. Defendant was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). The following day, the United States Supreme Court held in Birchfield v. North Dakota, __ U.S. ___ (2016), that a blood test may not be administered without a warrant as a search incident to an arrest for DUI. Defendant timely moved for a new trial, arguing that, in light of the new rule of constitutional law announced in Birchfield, it was error to admit the result of a warrantless test of his blood. The district court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the good faith exception applies to warrantless blood draws connected prior to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Birchfield. View "State v. Hoerle" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment in favor of Plaintiff, a former officer at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, and against Scott Busboom, an officer at the facility, holding that Busboom was entitled to qualified immunity on Defendant’s claim that he was denied due process when he was placed on unpaid investigatory suspension without any opportunity to be heard. The district court determined that Busboom was not entitled to qualified immunity in his individual capacity because Busboom had signed the letter suspending Plaintiff while acting under color of state law and that “any reasonable officer” in his position would have understood that Plaintiff was entitled to a hearing before being deprived of a protected property interest. In reversing, the Supreme Court held (1) when Plaintiff was suspended without pay, the law did not clearly establish that a public employer must first provide notice and an opportunity to respond to allegations of misconduct to an employee with a protected property interest in continued employment, and therefore, Busboom was entitled to qualified immunity; and (2) Plaintiff failed to show that he was deprived of due process because he did not receive a posttermination hearing. View "White v. Busboom" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the county court erred in overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress. The county court overruled Defendant’s motion after finding that the community caretaking exception to the Fourth Amendment applied. The district court and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals, albeit on different grounds, holding (1) because the initial police-citizen encounter did not amount to a seizure, it was not necessary to invoke the community caretaking exception; but (2) the circumstances clearly established reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed, and therefore, the detention that followed the stop of Defendant’s vehicle was constitutionally permitted. View "State v. Rivera" on Justia Law