Articles Posted in Criminal Law

by
This case presented the Supreme Court’s first opportunity to address postrelease supervision as enacted by 2015 Neb. Laws, L.B. 605. Defendant was convicted of third degree sexual assault of a child and requested to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). Defendant later pleaded no contest to failing to register as required to SORA and was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment and twelve months’ supervised release. Defendant appealed, arguing that his sentence was excessive and that certain conditions of postrelease supervision were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s sentence was not an abuse of discretion; and (2) Defendant waived any objection to the conditions imposed. View "State v. Phillips" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Defendant was arrested in Wyoming, waived extradition, was returned to Nebraska, and was charged with one count of theft by unlawful taking. Defendant filed in the trial court a motion for absolute discharge for violation of his constitutional rights, alleging that his extradition was procedurally improper and that his arrest warrant was defective. The trial court denied the motion. Thereafter, Defendant was found guilty. After Defendant was sentenced, the appeal from the denial of his motion for absolute discharge was voluntarily dismissed. The court of appeals affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences on direct appeal. Defendant then filed an application in the district court for a writ of habeas corpus alleging that his conviction and sentence were void because the trial court lacked jurisdiction to continue with his trial while his appeal from the denial of the motion for absolute discharge was pending. The court dismissed Defendant’s application. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion for absolute discharge was not a final order, the trial court was not divested of jurisdiction when Defendant filed this interlocutory appeal. View "Dugan v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Appellant was charged with four crimes in connection with certain financial dealings. A jury heard his case, and after deliberating for three days, the jury reported that it was deadlocked. The district court sustained Appellant’s motion for a mistrial. Later, Appellant discovered that the jury had voted unanimously during deliberations to acquit him on three of the four charges but erroneously thought it had to reach a unanimous verdict on all charges. Appellant filed a motion for a judgment of acquittal and then a plea in bar. The district court overruled the motion and the plea in bar. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order overruling Appellant’s plea in bar, holding that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution does not bar Appellant’s retrial after his first trial ended in a mistrial, which was granted at Appellant’s request. View "State v. Combs" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Appellant was charged with four crimes in connection with certain financial dealings. A jury heard his case, and after deliberating for three days, the jury reported that it was deadlocked. The district court sustained Appellant’s motion for a mistrial. Later, Appellant discovered that the jury had voted unanimously during deliberations to acquit him on three of the four charges but erroneously thought it had to reach a unanimous verdict on all charges. Appellant filed a motion for a judgment of acquittal and then a plea in bar. The district court overruled the motion and the plea in bar. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order overruling Appellant’s plea in bar, holding that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution does not bar Appellant’s retrial after his first trial ended in a mistrial, which was granted at Appellant’s request. View "State v. Combs" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court finding Appellant guilty of premeditated first degree murder and sentencing him to life imprisonment. The court held (1) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of Appellant’s letter to a witness warning the witness not to “lie” at Appellant’s trial because the court did not comply with the procedural requirements for admitting such evidence under Neb. R. Evid. 404(2); (2) however, because the State’s other evidence of Appellant’s guilt was overwhelming, the court’s error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt; and (3) Defendant’s remaining assignments of error were without merit. View "State v. Burries" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court finding Appellant guilty of premeditated first degree murder and sentencing him to life imprisonment. The court held (1) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of Appellant’s letter to a witness warning the witness not to “lie” at Appellant’s trial because the court did not comply with the procedural requirements for admitting such evidence under Neb. R. Evid. 404(2); (2) however, because the State’s other evidence of Appellant’s guilt was overwhelming, the court’s error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt; and (3) Defendant’s remaining assignments of error were without merit. View "State v. Burries" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for first degree sexual assault of a child under twelve years of age, holding in part that the trial court properly admitted hearsay evidence under the medical diagnosis and treatment exception, Neb. R. Evid. 803(3). Specifically, the court held (1) under the circumstances, the hearsay evidence was properly admitted as evidence under the medical diagnosis and treatment hearsay exception; (2) Defendant’s trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984); and (3) there was sufficient evidence for a rational jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant was guilty of first degree sexual assault of child under twelve years of age. View "State v. Jedlicka" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized during the detention and search of a vehicle in which she was a passenger, as well as the sentence imposed for Defendant’s possession of a controlled substance conviction. In regard to her motion to suppress, Defendant argued that the initial encounter with the lead law enforcement officer amounted to a seizure when she was detained after the officer determined that the wanted individual was not in the vehicle and that the investigatory stop was not supported by reasonable suspicion. The Supreme Court held (1) the lead officer had reasonable suspicion of illegal activity to justify the detention of the vehicle’s passengers after the officer determined that the wanted individual was not in the vehicle; and (2) the sentence imposed did not constitute an abuse of discretion. View "State v. Rogers" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court that overruled Defendant’s motion for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing. Defendant pled guilty to five counts of first degree murder and five counts of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. Defendant’s motion for postconviction relief raised numerous claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. The Supreme Court held (1) with respect to each of Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claims, the district court did not err when it concluded that Defendant failed to allege sufficient facts to demonstrate a violation of his constitutional rights and that the record affirmatively showed that Defendant was not entitled to relief; and (2) the district court did not err when it overruled Defendant’s motion for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing. View "State v. Vela" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Appellant’s motion for new trial claiming newly discovered evidence, holding that Appellant failed to satisfy the timeliness requirements of Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2103(4). In 2010, Appellant was convicted of second degree assault and use of a weapon to commit a felony and found to be a habitual criminal. In 2016, Appellant filed a second motion for new trial claiming newly discovered evidence under Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2101(5). The district court concluded that Appellant was not entitled to a new trial based on newly discovered evidence because his motion and supporting documents failed to set forth sufficient facts. The Supreme Court held (1) the proper standard of review to apply when reviewing a trial court’s dismissal of a motion for a new trial without conducting an evidentiary hearing is de novo on the record; and (2) this court’s de novo review of Appellant’s motion and supporting documents demonstrated that dismissal of the motion without a hearing was proper under Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2102(2). View "State v. Cross" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law