Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Constitutional Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's conviction of two counts of possession of a controlled substance, holding that the district court erred in denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence found during a warrantless search of Defendant's vehicle.On appeal, Defendant argued that the State failed to meet its burden of proving that the search fell within the inventory search exception to the warrant requirement. The court of appeals disagreed, concluding that the police did not use the inventory search as pretext for a general rummaging in order to discover incriminating evidence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that it was not possible on the record to determine whether the search was conducted in conformity with Omaha Police Department's standardized procedures governing inventory searches; and (2) therefore, the State failed to meet its burden to show that the search fell within the inventory search exception. View "State v. Briggs" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of first degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, holding that the district court did not err in admitting cell phone records for Defendant's phone and statements Defendant made to law enforcement.Prior to trial, Defendant filed motions to suppress his cell phone records and statements he made to law enforcement, arguing that the warrant authorizing the search of Defendant's cell phone records was obtained without probable cause and that his Miranda rights were violated when he invoked his right to remain silent and officers continued to question him. The district court denied the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in admitting cell site location information evidence at trial; and (2) Defendant waived any right to assert error in the denial of his motion to suppress his statements made to law enforcement. View "State v. Cox" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding compensation totaling $4,625,967 for Elkhorn School District's taking of forty-three acres of Tribedo, LLC's property, holding that the district court did not err in its trial rulings nor in accepting the jury verdict for total compensation due to Tribedo.After the board of appraisers awarded $2,601,600 for the taking Tribedo appealed, alleging that the award did not reflect the fair market value of the property taken and did not adequately compensate for damages to the remainder of Tribedo's property. Following the jury's verdict, Elkhorn moved for a new trial. The district court denied the motion and granted Tribedo's posttrial motions for an award of interest and attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no error in the proceedings below; (2) the district court did not err when it accepted the jury verdict; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it awarded Tribedo $590,925 in attorney fees. View "Douglas County School District No. 10 v. Tribedo, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's drug possession conviction, holding that the district court did not err in overruling Defendant's motion to suppress.Defendant was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for not having license plates. During the traffic stop, the officer obtained the driver's consent to search the vehicle. The officers found methamphetamine in a purse located on the front passenger floorboard. The purse belonged to Defendant. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the search violated her Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful searches and seizures because she did not consent to the search of her purse. The district court overruled the motion. After a bench trial, Defendant was found guilty. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the search was constitutional because the officer reasonably believed that the driver could have owned the purse and the officer found the contraband in plain view upon opening the wallet that contained Defendant's identification. View "State v. Andera" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's motion to suppress statements he made to law enforcement in an alleged violation of his Miranda rights, holding that the district court correctly denied the motion to suppress.In denying Defendant's motion to suppress, the district court found that Defendant's pre-Miranda statements made to law enforcement were voluntary and not the result of an interrogation and that Defendant's post-Miranda statements were made voluntarily. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's pre-Miranda statements were made voluntarily and not in response to a custodial interrogation; and (2) there was sufficient evidence for a trier of fact to find that Defendant made his post-Miranda statements voluntarily. View "State v. Connelly" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the dissolution decree in this case, holding that the no-fault divorce statutory scheme governing dissolution found at Neb. Rev. Stat. 42-347 to 42-381 is not unconstitutional.On appeal from the dissolution decree, Defendant argued that, by virtue of establishing no-fault divorce, the statutory scheme deprives defendants in dissolution actions of procedural due process and constitutes special legislation in favor of plaintiffs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 42-347(3) does not violate the procedural due process provisions of the United States and Nebraska Constitutions; and (2) section 42-347(3) does not constitute special legislation granting divorces. View "Dycus v. Dycus" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part an order denying Defendant's motion for postconviction relief on his ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims, holding that precedent required that the Court vacate the portion of the order related to ineffective assistance for failure to investigate.Defendant pled guilty to three counts of first degree murder and other crimes. No direct appeal was filed. Thereafter, Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief, alleging that counsel was ineffective for failing to file a direct appeal and that he would not have entered into the plea agreement if his attorney had properly investigated his case. The district court denied postconviction relief. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment in part, holding (1) the district court properly denied Defendant's ineffective assistance claim concerning his direct appeal; and (2) the district court failed to follow the directive in State v. Determan, 873 N.W.2d 390 (Nev. 2016), when disposing of Defendant's second postconviction claim. View "State v. Dalton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for violating a municipal ordinance prohibiting battery, holding that the Court was unable to read the merits of Defendant's appeal because he failed to provide notice, as required by Neb. Ct. R. App. P. 2-109(E).Defendant was denied a jury trial for his alleged violation of a municipal ordinance prohibiting battery despite a separate ordinance imposing a ten-year ban upon possession of firearms by a person convicted of violating the battery ordinance. Following a bench trial, the county court convicted Defendant of violating the battery ordinance. The district court affirmed. Defendant appealed, implicitly challenging the constitutionality of Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-2705, which prohibits jury trials for criminal cases arising under city ordinances. Defendant, however, failed to comply with the procedural rule governing constitutional challenges to statutes. The Supreme Court affirmed after strictly applying Rule 2-109(E), holding that the Court was unable to reach the merits of Defendant's appeal because he failed to provide the notice required by Rule 2-109(E). View "State v. Denton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that officials within the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (DCS) violated his federal constitutional rights in the calculation of his parole eligibility, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the complaint for failure to state a claim.In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that officials within the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (DCS) violated his federal constitutional rights in calculating his parole eligibility date. In dismissing the complaint, the district court found that the United States Supreme Court's decision in Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74 (2005), precluded him from bringing his complaint because he challenged the fact or duration of his confinement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed adequately to allege that DCS violated his federal constitutional rights in any respect. View "Schaeffer v. Frakes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court denying Michael Meister's motion to quash and vacate in a garnishment action that sought to collaterally attack a Wyoming judgment obtained by Gem City Bone and Joint, P.C. against Meister, holding that the Wyoming court incorrectly determined that it had jurisdiction over Meister as an individual.Earlier in the registration and enforcement process Meister and his professional corporation challenged the foreign judgment claiming that the Wyoming court lacked personal jurisdiction to enter judgment against either himself personally or his professional corporation. The district court disagreed and permitted the registration of the foreign order, a decision that Meister and his organization failed timely to appeal. Thereafter, Gem City requested a garnishment to enforce the registered judgment against Meister. In response, Meister filed a motion to quash the garnishment and to vacate the Wyoming judgment. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that the Wyoming court improperly exercised jurisdiction over Meister as an individual. View "Gem City Bone & Joint, P.C. v. Meister" on Justia Law