Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Constitutional Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that the Village of Dorchester was entitled to summary judgment on REO Enterprises, LLC's claims remaining on remand, holding that there was no error.At issue was an ordinance enacted by the Village providing that renters of property could receive utility services from the village only if their landlord guaranteed that the landlord would pay any unpaid utility charges. REO brought this action seeking a declaration that the ordinance was unenforceable. The district court declared that the ordinance violated constitutional equal protection principles, but the Supreme Court reversed and remanded for consideration of REO's other claims. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Village on the remaining claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the Village. View "REO Enterprises, LLC v. Village of Dorchester" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his no contest pleas to six felony charges, holding that there was no error.After the district court accepted Defendant's no contest pleas, Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his pleas, claiming that he wanted to withdraw his pleas so that he could obtain a second opinion as to his sanity at the time of the charged offenses. The district court denied the motion to withdraw. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by overruling Defendant's motion to withdraw his pleas; and (2) the record was insufficient to review Defendant's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal. View "State v. Warner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for driving under the influence (DUI), fourth offense, and driving during revocation, second offense, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's assigned errors.After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of non-aggravated DUI and of driving during revocation and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. The trial court further revoked Defendant's operator's license for a period of fifteen years following his release from incarceration. On appeal, Defendant alleged five instances of error, including the denial of his motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in finding that Defendant's warrantless blood test was reasonable for purposes of the Fourth Amendment; (2) there was no error in the district court's challenged evidentiary rulings; (3) the evidence supported the convictions; and (4) Defendant's challenges to the sentences imposed were unavailing. View "State v. Miller" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment the district court denying postconviction relief sought by Defendant without conducting an evidentiary hearing, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by failing to hold an evidentiary hearing on Defendant's claims.Defendant was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death on each murder conviction. Defendant later filed what the district court referred to as his fifth postconviction motion, alleging (1) after the Legislature passed L.B. 268 abolishing the death penalty and when L.B. 268 was subsequently repeated by public referendum, his constitutional rights were violated; and (2) he was constitutionally ineligible for imposition of the death penalty under Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002). The court summarily denied relief on both claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly found that Defendant's Atkins claim was both procedurally barred and time barred; and (2) Defendant's L.B. 268 claim was meritless. View "State v. Lotter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying postconviction relief sought by Appellant, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court affirmed. Appellant later filed a timely pro se motion for postconviction relief alleging that his trial counsel had been ineffective in challenging the admissibility and weight of the State's DNA evidence presented at trial. The district court denied postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence demonstrated that defense counsel's performance was the product of reasonable trial strategy; and (2) Appellant failed to show that his trial counsel performed deficiently in their treatment of the probability statistic admitted at trial. View "State v. Ellis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that Plaintiff did not qualify for an extended redemption period under Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-1827 and that the tax certificate sale process at issue in this case did not violate Plaintiff's constitutional rights, holding that there was no error.Because Plaintiff did not pay her 2013 property taxes the Lancaster County treasurer to a private party. Three years later, the tax certificate holder applied for and obtained a tax deed to the property. Plaintiff subsequently brought this action seeking to quiet title to the property in her name, arguing that the issuance of the tax deed had violated her rights under the state and federal constitutions and that she had a statutory right to a five-year redemption period under Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-1827. The district court dismissed all claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to the statutory extended redemption period or when it dismissed her constitutional claims. View "Nieveen v. TAX 106" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of second degree murder and sentence of a period of incarceration of no less than sixty years and no more than life, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pled guilty to one count of second degree murder. Under the plea agreement, the State agreed to make a recommendation of a sentence of twenty years. After she was sentenced, Defendant brought this appeal, arguing that the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by failing to make a sentencing recommendation consistent with the plea agreement and claiming that the sentence was excessive. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the prosecutor's remarks regarding sentencing did not breach the plea agreement and were not improper; and (2) the district court did not impose an excessive sentence. View "State v. Cooke" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Defendant's motion for postconviction relief, holding that the district court did not err in denying the motion for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing.Defendant was convicted of intentional child abuse resulting in death and was sentenced to imprisonment for seventy years to life. The conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal. Defendant later filed her motion for postconviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of both trial and appellate counsel. The district court concluded that the motion should be summarily dismissed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it denied Defendant's postconviction claims without an evidentiary hearing. View "State v. Cullen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of first degree murder, use of a firearm to commit a felony, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, holding that Defendant failed to show that he was entitled to relief on his claims of error.On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in concluding that he was competent to stand trial and erred in admitting evidence that Defendant alleged was obtained in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the district court's conclusion that Defendant was competent to stand trial; and (2) there was no merit to Defendant's second and third assignments of error. View "State v. Surber" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding Defendant guilty of possession of a controlled substance and finding him to be a habitual criminal, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.Defendant was arrested after a police officer discovered methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in Defendant's vehicle and his person. After his conviction, Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress and finding him to be a habitual criminal, and asserting that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion and that Defendant's ineffective assistance claims were either without merit or not alleged with sufficient particularity. View "State v. Drake" on Justia Law