Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained from a traffic stop, holding that this was an investigatory traffic stop supported by reasonable suspicion. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the search of his car, arguing that the law enforcement officer did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop. The district court found that the traffic stop was supported by probable cause and overruled the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, although its reasoning differed from that of the district court, holding that the investigatory stop of Defendant’s car was supported by reasonable suspicion and was therefore constitutional. View "State v. Barbeau" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated in part and dismissed in part the appeal of the dismissal of Appellant’s mandamus action and the cross-appeal of the rejection of Appellee’s sovereign immunity defense, holding that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Appellant’s mandamus action against Nebraska State Patrol (NSP), a state agency. Appellant filed this mandamus action against NSP seeking an order commanding NSP to remove from the public record information regarding his arrest. The district court rejected NSP’s sovereign immunity defense but dismissed the mandamus action on the grounds that the action was moot and mandamus relief was unavailable because Appellant had an adequate remedy at law. The Supreme Court held that Appellant’s mandamus action was barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, and therefore, the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the action. View "State ex rel. Rhiley v. Nebraska State Patrol" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s sentence imposed in connection with Defendant's convictions for kidnapping and manslaughter, holding that there was no reversible error in any aspect of the district court’s sentencing. Defendant was serving a criminal sentence in Colorado when he was extradited to Nebraska to face charges. Colorado authorities granted Defendant parole approximately nineteen months later. When Defendant was convicted of kidnapping and manslaughter in Nebraska, the district court determined that Defendant was not entitled to credit for time served prior to his parole in Colorado. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) properly denied Defendant credit for time spent in custody up until he was paroled; (2) did not err by receiving a certain exhibit in the course of determining whether and to what extent Defendant was entitled to credit for time served; and (3) did not abuse its discretion by imposing consecutive sentences. View "State v. Leahy" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of motor vehicle homicide, manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) causing serious bodily injury, and refusal to submit to a preliminary breath test and the sentences imposed, holding that any error in the trial court proceedings was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Specifically, the Court held (1) Defendant failed to establish that he received ineffective assistance of counsel as a matter of law; (2) evidence of a driver’s refusal to submit to a warrantless blood draw is admissible in a DUI prosecution; and (3) the trial court erred in admitting the victim’s death certificate without supporting testimony, but the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "State v. Hood" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of negligent child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury and sentence of probation, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on her ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Specifically, the Court held (1) because Defendant did not file a timely motion for new trial, this Court could not consider Defendant’s arguments of error relating to the overruling of the motion; and (2) applying the standard set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), the record was insufficient to resolve Defendant’s claims that she received ineffective assistance of counsel due to counsel’s personal interest conflict. View "State v. Avina-Murillo" on Justia Law

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In these appeals from identical, successive postconviction motions filed in three cases, the Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s first appeal for lack of jurisdiction and affirmed the denials of Appellant’s other claim as time barred. In his postconviction motions, Appellant sought relief based on Hurst v. Florida, __ U.S. __, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and on a death qualification issue. The district court denied relief on each issue in separate orders filed months apart. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal challenging the denials of the death qualification issue, holding that Appellant did not timely appeal those denials. As to the claim raised in Appellant’s second-degree appeal, the Supreme Court agreed with the district court that the claim was barred by the limitations period set forth in Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-3301 and that subsection (4)(d) did not extend the limitation period. View "State v. Lotter" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming the judgment of the circuit court denying Defendant’s motion to suppress based upon the exclusionary rule’s good faith exception, holding that there was no plain error. After having submitted to a blood draw performed before the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota, __ U.S. __ (2016), Defendant was convicted for driving under the influence. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained from the traffic stop and warrantless blood draw, arguing that the exclusionary rule’s good faith exception did not apply in this case and that the State failed to raise the issue in the county court. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this Court’s holding in State v. Hoerle, 901 N.W.2d 327 (2017), controls, and the district court did not err in performing its review for plain error; and (2) there was no plain error in applying the good faith exception to warrantless pre-Birchfield blood draws or in determining that the State raised the good faith exception. View "State v. Nielsen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the sentence imposed by the district court for Defendant’s convictions of theft by deception, holding that the sentence and conditions set by the district court were within statutory limits. The district court sentenced Defendant to two years’ imprisonment and twelve months’ postrelease supervision. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion by failing to impose terms and conditions of postrelease supervision that could be served by Defendant while he was incarcerated in another state and were reasonably related to his rehabilitation. The Supreme Court held (1) Defendant waived the objections raised in his second argument; and (2) the sentence and conditions were not an abuse of discretion. View "State v. Shaull" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant postconviction relief without conducting an evidentiary hearing, holding that the district court properly denied relief and without holding an evidentiary hearing. Appellant was convicted of first degree murder and other crimes. Appellant later filed a motion for postconviction relief, alleging claims of trial court error, prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. The district court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) failing to find trial counsel deficiency violated the Nebraska and United States Constitutions; (2) failing to grant Appellant postconviction relief; (3) failing to find Defendant was prejudiced by trial counsel’s performance; (4) failing to find Appellant was prejudiced by appellate counsel’s performance; and (5) denying Appellant an evidentiary hearing. View "State v. Foster" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief without conducting an evidentiary hearing, holding that Appellant was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his claims that trial counsel failed to file notice of and present evidence of his alibi defense and failed to investigate information regarding potential suspects. Defendant was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and other crimes. After his convictions and sentences were affirmed on direct appeal, Defendant moved for postconviction relief, raising claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and a claim of actual innocence. The district court denied the motion without an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that Defendant was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his claims relating to his alibi defense and the failure to investigate information related to potential suspects. View "State v. Stricklin" on Justia Law