Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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When he was seventeen years old, Defendant pled guilty to first degree murder. Defendant was sentenced to a mandatory term of life imprisonment. Pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, Defendant’s sentence was vacated. After a hearing, Defendant was resentenced to ninety years to life imprisonment. Defendant appealed, alleging, inter alia, that his sentence violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and the principles set forth in Miller and Graham v. Florida. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s sentence did not violate Miller; (2) Defendant’s sentence was not disproportionate; and (3) the district court adequately considered Defendant’s age and age-related characteristics and used adequate procedural safeguards when sentencing Defendant. View "State v. Nollen" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and tampering with a witness. The Supreme Court affirmed on appeal. Defendant subsequently filed a fourth amended motion for postconviction relief, alleging, in part, that trial counsel provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. The district court denied postconviction relief on all grounds. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err by not finding trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective; and (2) the district court did not err in not finding Defendant’s constitutional rights were violated because he was allegedly unable to understand one of the court interpreters during trial. View "State v. Alarcon-Chavez" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to kidnapping, a crime he committed when he was sixteen years old. Defendant was initially sentenced to life imprisonment. After the U.S. Supreme Court decided Graham v. Florida and Miller v. Alabama, Defendant filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus. The district court determined that Defendant was entitled to relief under Graham and vacated his life sentence. Thereafter, Defendant was resentenced to ninety years to life imprisonment. Defendant appealed that sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the sentence was not excessive, nor did it violate the 8th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution or the principles set forth in Graham. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted and sentenced for refusing to submit to a chemical test, refusing to submit to a preliminary breath test, and driving without a license. On appeal, Defendant challenged the district court’s determination that Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-6,197, the chemical test implied consent statute, was valid, facially and as applied, and constitutional. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and in part vacated and remanded, holding (1) section 60-6,197 is unconstitutional as applied to Defendant for his conviction for refusing to submit to a chemical blood test; and (2) there was no merit to Defendant’s remaining assignments of error. View "State v. McCumber" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree assault, robbery, attempted robbery, and four counts of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s Batson challenge regarding a prospective juror who had been removed by the State using a peremptory strike; (2) any error in sustaining the State’s objection to evidence Defendant wanted to offer to impeach one of the State’s witnesses was harmless; (3) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion for new trial on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct and newly discovered evidence; and (4) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s convictions. View "State v. Lester" on Justia Law

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After a bench trial on stipulated facts, Defendant was found guilty of refusal of a chemical test in violation of Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-6,197. Defendant appealed, arguing, primarily, that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because the traffic stop was conducted without reasonable suspicion and that section 6-6,197.09 and related statutes are unconstitutional because they are void for vagueness. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress; (2) section 60-6,197.09 is not unconstitutionally vague; and (3) Defendant was not denied due process when he was denied probation. View "State v. Arizola" on Justia Law

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In 1987, Defendant murdered his twelve-year-old sister. Defendant was fourteen years old at the time of the murder. Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2013, Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief, arguing that his sentence was cruel and unusual punishment in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama. The district court vacated Defendant’s life sentence, finding that the sentence was within the parameters of the holding in Miller, that the rule in Miller applies retroactively, and that Defendant was therefore entitled to postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the relevant sentencing scheme mandated life imprisonment without the possibility for parole, the district court was bound by Miller. Remanded for resentencing. View "State v. Thieszen" on Justia Law

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Randy and Helen Strode owned real property in the City of Ashland, Saunders County. Since the time of the purchase, the Strodes operated a business for the manufacture of agricultural fencing and the storage of salvage on the property. In 2003, the district court held that Randy’s use of the property to store salvage was in violation of the zoning ordinance but found that the manufacture of agricultural fencing was permitted. In 2013, the Strodes filed suit against the City and the County for inverse condemnation based on the zoning ordinance and the load limit regulation of a bridge used by the Strodes for transporting commercial goods. The district court concluded (1) Randy’s zoning takings claim was barred by claim preclusion because the matter was litigated in the 2003 case, (2) determined that Helen’s regulatory taking lain was barred by the statute of limitations because she was aware of the effect of the zoning ordinance after 2003; (3) found that the regulation of the bridge structure was not a regulatory taking, and (4) the City and County were entitled to summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding in favor of the City and the County. View "Strode v. City of Ashland" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of driving under the influence and refusing to submit to a chemical test. Both convictions were second offenses. Defendant appealed, challenging the county court’s refusal to grant his motion to quash the charge of refusal to submit to a chemical yes and his motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of his arrest. Specifically, Defendant argued that criminalizing refusal was a violation of the constitutional rights to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures and that there was not probable cause to support his arrest. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the county court did not err when it overruled Defendant’s motion to quash and his motion to suppress; and (2) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions. View "State v. Pester" on Justia Law

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After a jury-waived trial, Defendant was convicted of first degree sexual assault committed while he was a juvenile. The district court sentenced Defendant to one year’s imprisonment, ordered him to register under Sex Offender Registration Act for life, and found that Defendant was subject to lifetime community supervision. Defendant appealed, arguing that the lifetime requirements were cruel and unusual punishments because he was a juvenile while the crime was committed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in (1) sentencing Defendant to lifetime sex offender registration and lifetime community supervision when he committed the aggravated offense as a juvenile; and (2) sentencing Defendant to lifetime community supervision. View "State v. Boche" on Justia Law