Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court held that the district court erred in sustaining Defendant's motion to quash an information for revocation of probation, holding that a probation violation allegation asserting a law violation from a new charge of possession of methamphetamine is not a "substance abuse" violation having a prerequisite of ninety days of cumulative custodial sanctions. Defendant was convicted of possession of methaphetamine. The court imposed a sentence of specialized substance abuse supervision probation. One of the conditions of probation required Defendant to "not use or possess any controlled substance." Eight months later, the State filed an information for revocation of probation alleging that Defendant intentionally possessed methamphetamine. Defendant moved to quash the information for revocation of probation, claiming that, under Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2267(3), revocation proceedings could not be instituted for a substance abuse violation because the State did not allege or show that she had served ninety days of cumulative custodial sanctions during the probation term. The Supreme Court sustained the State's exception and remanded the cause for further proceedings, holding that Defendant's alleged violation was not a substance abuse violation but a law violation, and therefore, the district court erred in quashing the information for revocation of probation. View "State v. Jedlicka" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting the State's motion to dismiss Appellant's motion for DNA testing under the DNA Testing Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-4116 to 29-4125, holding that the district court's factual findings were not clearly erroneous, and the court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the motion for DNA testing. Defendant entered no contest pleas to aiding and abetting second degree murder and aiding and abetting first degree sexual assault. Defendant later filed a motion seeking DNA testing of numerous items of evidence under the DNA Testing Act. The court authorized testing on four items of evidence. After receiving the DNA test results the State moved to dismiss the proceeding, alleging that the results neither exonerated nor exculpated Defendant. The district court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly dismissed the proceeding. View "State v. Amaya" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the district court's motion for postconviction relief without a hearing, holding that because Appellant did not even attempt to demonstrate that he was prejudiced as a result of appellate counsel's deficient performance, Appellant was not entitled to postconviction relief. After Appellant's convictions were affirmed on appeal Appellant filed a petition for postconviction relief. As the basis for his petition, Appellant argued that his appellate counsel was ineffective and that he was not required to demonstrate that he was prejudiced by his counsel's deficient performance. The district court denied postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant was required to demonstrate prejudice under Strickland and failed to do so. View "State v. Assad" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the separate juvenile court adjudicating Appellant for the act of attempted theft by unlawful taking, $5,000 or more, holding that Appellant was not entitled to reversal of her convictions. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the juvenile court did not err by (1) overruling Appellant's motion to quash; (2) denying Appellant's demand for jury trial; and (3) finding that Appellant committed the act of attempted theft by unlawful taking, $5,000 or more because the State presented sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the value of property involved was $5,000 or more. View "In re Interest of Zoie H." on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for assault by a confined person, holding that the district court did not err in its challenged evidentiary rulings and that there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant's conviction. On appeal, Defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction and asserted that the district court erred when it refused his proposed self-defense instruction and when it admitted a recording of a telephone call he made from jail. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence didn't support a self-defense instruction, and therefore, the district court did not err when it refused the instruction proposed by Defendant; (2) the district court did not err when it admitted the recording of the telephone call into evidence; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant's conviction. View "State v. Case" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion for testing under Nebraska's DNA Testing Act and his motion for the appointment of counsel, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion for DNA testing. Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and other crimes. Defendant later filed his motion for DNA testing pursuant to the DNA Testing Act, seeking to have certain items taken from the crime scene tested in order to exclude himself as a donor of any biological material. Defendant additionally claimed that the State withheld findings of biological evidence from him and asked that counsel be appointed. The district court denied relief, determining that the requested testing would not produce noncumulative exculpatory evidence. The court further determined that the State did not withhold evidence and denied Defendant's request for counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the DNA testing requested by Defendant would not result in noncumulative exculpatory evidence relevant to his wrongful conviction claim. View "State v. Myers" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellant's third motion for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing, holding that there was no merit to Appellant's claims on appeal. Defendant was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and other felony offenses and sentenced to death. In his third postconviction motion, Defendant alleged that the Legislature's statute providing for the repeal of the death penalty, 2015 Neb. Laws, L.B. 268, changed his death sentence to life imprisonment and that the rejection of L.B. 268 by public referendum imposed a death sentence, the referendum was constitutionally impermissible, and he was harmed thereby. The district court concluded that Defendant failed to allege sufficient facts that demonstrated a violation of his constitutional rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in denying postconviction relief. View "State v. Iddings" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellant's third motion for post conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing, holding that there was no merit to Appellant's claims on appeal. Defendant was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and other felony offenses and sentenced to death. In his third postconviction motion, Defendant alleged that the Legislature's statute providing for the repeal of the death penalty, 2015 Neb. Laws, L.B. 268, changed his death sentence to life imprisonment and that the rejection of L.B. 268 by public referendum imposed a death sentence, the referendum was constitutionally impermissible, and he was harmed thereby. The district court concluded that Defendant failed to allege sufficient facts that demonstrated a violation of his constitutional rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in denying postconviction relief. View "State v. Torres" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motions for DNA testing and appointment of counsel, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motions because Defendant did not demonstrate that DNA testing may produce noncumulative, exculpatory evidence. Defendant was convicted of murder in the first degree and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. The Supreme Court affirmed. Defendant later filed a motion for DNA testing and requested that counsel be appointed to represent him. The district court denied the motions, determining that Defendant failed to show such testing may produce noncumulative, exculpatory evidence relevant to the claim that he was wrongfully convicted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motions for DNA testing and appointment of counsel. View "State v. Ildefonso" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court affirming Defendant's convictions and sentences, holding that the district court did not err when it rejected each of Defendant's contentions regarding his sentences. Defendant was convicted in the county court of twenty-one misdemeanor counts of violating a protection order and sentenced to county jail for 180 days on each count, to be served consecutively. Defendant appealed, arguing that his sentences were excessive, disproportionate, and invalid. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no plain error when the county court did not announce at the sentencing hearing where Defendant's sentences would be served; (2) Defendant's individual sentences were not grossly disproportionate; and (3) the district court did not err when it affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences. View "State v. Becker" on Justia Law