Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court overruled the State's exceptions to the district court's dismissal of charges filed against Deborah Archer and Cory Russell, holding that there was no error in the district court's dismissal of the informations against Archer and Russell.Archer and Russell were charged with crimes involving their sale of products continuing cannabidiol, also known as CBD. After a hearing during which evidence was presented that the pharmacological effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and CBD were not similar, the district court dismissed without prejudice the charges for failure of sufficient probable cause. The State filed an application taking exception to the district court's dismissals. The Supreme Court overruled the exceptions, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the charges. View "State v. Archer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court vacated the orders of the district court granting Defendant a new trial and absolute discharge, holding that the orders were void because the district court did not comply with the Supreme Court's mandate in an earlier appeal.In 2000, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. Several unsuccessful motions and appeals followed, in which Defendant collaterally attacked his convictions and sentences. In 2017, the Supreme Court remanded for further proceedings in an appeal involving collateral attacks. On remand, the district court granted Defendant's motion for new trial and, later, his motion for absolute discharge on speedy trial grounds. The Supreme Court vacated those orders, holding that the district court did not comply with this Court's mandate in an earlier appeal. View "State v. Harris" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the determination of the district court that Defendant committed an aggravated offense and was thus subject to lifetime registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA), holding that the district court did not err.Defendant pleaded no contest to first degree sexual assault and another related charge. After accepting the pleas, the district court found that Defendant committed an aggravated offense under SORA and was thus subject to a lifetime registration obligation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err by determining that Defendant committed an aggravated offense and was therefore required to register under SORA for life. View "State v. Wilson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of one count of burglary and one count of theft by receiving stolen property, holding that Defendant's assignments of error were without merit.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence discovered in a warrantless search of a backpack Defendant discarded in a ditch; (2) the district court did not err in admitting the State's evidence pertaining to the value of the stolen property; and (3) the district court did not err in overruling Defendant's motion to dismiss the charge of theft by receiving stolen property. View "State v. Dixon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of obstructing a police officer, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction.When law enforcement officers were returning property to Defendant at her home, they were greeted by Defendant's husband, against whom Defendant had a protection order. Worried that she was "going to get in trouble" Defendant fled through a window and was found by officers a block away. Defendant was convicted of obstructing a peace officer. On appeal, Defendant argued that she was convicted without sufficient evidence that she obstructed a peace officer. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the evidence was sufficient to find that Defendant's intentional acts impaired peace officers from enforcing a penal law. View "State v. Cervantes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's denial of Appellant's postconviction motion for DNA testing under Nebraska's DNA Testing Act (Act), Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-4116 et seq., holding that Appellant did not meet his burden of showing that DNA testing may produce noncumulative, exculpatory evidence relevant to his claim that he was wrongfully convicted.Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. The Supreme Court affirmed on appeal. Appellant later filed a motion for DNA testing pursuant to the Act requesting DNA testing of four swabs of apparent blood taken from the victim's home and a buccal swab obtained from another individual that had been observed in the area. The district court denied the motion, determining that the requested testing would not produce noncumulative, exculpatory evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion on the grounds that Defendant's request for DNA testing did not satisfy the requirements of Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-4120(5)(c). View "State v. Hale" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for one count of attempted first degree sexual assault of a child and one count of child abuse, holding that the district court did not err by finding Defendant competent to stand trial and in sentencing Defendant.After convicting Defendant, the Supreme Court sentenced Defendant sentencing Defendant to incarceration for terms of twenty to twenty-two years and three years to be served concurrently. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in determining that Defendant was competent to stand trial; and (2) Defendant's sentences were within the statutory sentencing range, and Defendant failed to show that the district court considered improper factors or abused its discretion in sentencing him. View "State v. Lauhead" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment for REO Enterprises, LLC and declaring that the Village of Dorchester's ordinance No. 684 unconstitutionally violated the Equal Protection Clauses of the United States and Nebraska Constitutions, holding that the ordinance did not violate the Equal Protection Clauses.REO filed a complaint requesting that the district court declare ordinance No. 684 void because it violated the Equal Protection Clauses. Specifically, REO argued that the ordinance treated tenants and owners of property differently when applying for utility services by requiring tenants to obtain a landlord's written guarantee that the landlord would pay any unpaid utility charges for the rented property. The district court entered summary judgment for REO. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the ordinance's requirement that a residential tenant obtain a landlord's guarantee for initiating utility services did not violate the Equal Protection Clauses of the state and federal Constitutions. View "REO Enterprises, LLC v. Village of Dorchester" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's plea-based convictions of conspiracy to distribute or deliver a controlled substance (hydrocodone), conspiracy to distribute or deliver a controlled substance (tramadol), and child abuse, holding that there was no reversible error in the proceedings below.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err in accepting Defendant's guilty pleas because the information expressly alleged overt acts in furtherance of the charged conspiracy to distribute and deliver hydrocodone and tramadol, and the factual basis was sufficient to satisfy Wharton's Rule and support Defendant's guilty pleas; (2) Defendant's assignment of ineffective assistance of trial counsel for counsel's failure to properly inform her of Wharton's Rule was without merit; and (3) the record was insufficient to reach Defendant's claim of ineffective assistance due to her trial counsel's alleged conflict of interest. View "State v. Theisen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for first-degree sexual assault, holding that the trial court did not err in admitting the English translation of Defendant's Spanish out-of-court statements as nonhearsay.On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court erred when it admitted Luz Aguirre's Spanish-to-English translations of Defendant's out-of-court statements as a language conduit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) where the translator of a defendant's out-of-court verbal or written statements from a foreign language to English is shown to be qualified to perform such translation, and where the translator testifies at trial and is subject to cross-examination, the translation is admissible as non hearsay under Neb. R. Evid. 801(4); (2) the district court did not err in admitting the nonhearsay evidence; and (3) there was no merit to Defendant's remaining claims. View "State v. Martinez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law