Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Constitutional Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Defendant postconviction relief, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Defendant was convicted of first degree murder on a felony murder theory and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. Defendant filed multiple motions for postconviction relief, which the district court denied without a hearing. On appeal, the Supreme Court found that Defendant was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel for counsel's failure to advise him of his right to testify and ineffective assistance of appellate counsel for counsel's failure to assert on appeal that his right to self-representation was violated at trial. On remand, the district court found that Defendant was not entitled to relief. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court did not commit reversible error in denying relief on Defendant's two remaining claims. View "State v. Ely" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the juvenile court adjudicating Abigail G.'s son, Vladimir G., to be a child within the meaning of Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(a), holding that although Abigail could invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to testify in this adjudication, any error on the part of the juvenile court in requiring her testimony was not reversible. During the adjudication hearing, Abigail objected to testifying based on Fifth Amendment grounds. The court overruled Abigail's objection. After the hearing, the county court filed an order finding Vladimir to be a child within the meaning of section 43-247(3)(a). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) even if the court erred in failing to determine that at least part of Abigail's testimony was incriminating and therefore protected by Abigail's invocation of her Fifth Amendment privilege, such error was not reversible because there was sufficient evidence to support the adjudication without such testimony and because Abigail's Fifth Amendment rights were not violated; and (2) there was sufficient evidence to support the adjudication that Vladimir was a child within the meaning of section 43-247(3)(a). View "In re Interest of Vladimir G." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences for aiding and abetting robbery and for aiding and abetting first degree assault, holding that Defendant's assignments of error were either without merit or could not be considered in this appeal. Defendant was convicted in a second jury trial after his first trial ended in a deadlocked jury and a mistrial was declared. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in the first trial by failing to ask the jury whether it was deadlocked on each count and when it overruled Defendant's plea in bar filed after the declaration of a mistrial and before the second trial. Defendant further claimed that in the second trial, (1) the trial court abused its discretion when it denied Defendant's motion for a new trial, (2) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument, (3) counsel was ineffective, (4) there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction, and (5) the trial court imposed excessive sentences. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that some of Defendant's allegations of error could not be considered in this appeal and that, as to the remaining allegations, the district court did not err or abuse its discretion. View "State v. Price" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's plea-based conviction for third degree domestic assault, attempted tampering with a witness or informant, and violating a protection order, holding that Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel. On appeal, Defendant asserted that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to move to continue the plea in abatement, failing to file a plea in abatement, failing to move the trial court to require the State to produce the alleged victim for deposition and exclude the alleged victim as a witness, failing to move to suppress Defendant's statement, and counseling Defendant to enter a plea. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant failed to show that his counsel provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. View "State v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for second degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and other crimes, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress or in declining to sever certain charges and that sufficient evidence supported the convictions. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err in failing to suppress statements Defendant made to law enforcement and cell phone data acquired pursuant to a search warrant; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in overruling Defendant's motion to sever the two counts of tampering with a witness from the other charges; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to support the verdicts. View "State v. Benson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's motion for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing, holding that the trial court erred in determining that one of Appellant's claims was procedurally barred but that, nonetheless, Appellant was not entitled to relief. Appellant was convicted of first degree murder, attempted first degree, murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a weapon by a prohibited person. The Supreme Court affirmed on direct appeal. In his postconviction motion, Appellant asserted claims of trial court error, prosecutorial misconduct, and ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. The district court dismissed the motion without holding an evidentiary hearing, concluding that all of Appellant's claims were procedurally barred because they were known or knowable at the time of his direct appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court erred in determining that Appellant's ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claims were procedurally barred, but Appellant failed to show that appellate counsel was ineffective; and (2) the district court did not err in dismissing the remaining claims without an evidentiary hearing. View "State v. Parnell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence following his plea of no contest to attempted first degree sexual assault, holding that Defendant's sentence was not excessive and that this Court will not consider Defendant's assignment of error alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion by imposing an excessive sentence and that he was denied effective assistance of counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant; and (2) because Defendant did not specifically allege deficient performance of counsel as required by State v. Mrza, 926 N.W.2d 79 (Neb. 2019), this Court will not consider his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. View "State v. Archie" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of first degree murder and other crimes, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motions to suppress. Before trial, Defendant moved to suppress evidence obtained from searches of cell phone records and his residence. The first motion to suppress was based on cell phone records obtained pursuant to a provision within the federal Stored Communications Act (Act), which has since been held to be unconstitutional. As to the second motion to suppress, Defendant argued that the warrant violated the particularity requirements of the Fourth Amendment. The district court denied the motions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the seizure of Defendant's cell phone records under a provision within the Act was a violation of Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights, but the exclusion of the evidence was subject to the good faith exception; and (2) a majority of the provisions in the residential search warrant met the particularity requirements of the Fourth Amendment, and if certain items were seized pursuant to invalid portions of the warrant, their admission was harmless error. View "State v. Jennings" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for the misdemeanor offense of obstructing a peace officer, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the district court did not err in affirming the judgment of the county court because the county court did not err in overruling Defendant's motions for directed verdict where there was sufficient evidence to prove the material elements of the crime. As to Defendant's remaining assignments of error, the Court held (1) because the bill of exceptions in this case did not contain the suppression hearing, this Court will not consider Defendant's argument challenging the overruling of his motion to suppress; and (2) Defendant did not trigger appellate review of the trial court's decision denying his motion in limine. View "State v. Ferrin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for possessing methamphetamine and marijuana, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on her allegations of error. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) the district court erred in overruling her motion to suppress, (2) the district court erred in overruling her motions seeking a competency evaluation, and (3) her trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly overruled Defendant's motion to suppress; (2) there was no abuse of discretion in overruling Defendant's motions for a competency evaluation; and (3) the record affirmatively refuted Defendant's claim that trial counsel performed deficiently. View "State v. Lang" on Justia Law