Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of first degree sexual assault of a child, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's claims of trial error, and Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.On appeal, Defendant argued (1) the trial court erred by, inter alia, refusing to appoint him a DNA expert and by sustaining the prosecution's objection to further use of a forensic video to refresh the victim's recollection; and (2) trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in numerous ways. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's claims of trial error were without merit; and (2) all of Defendant's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were without merit with the exception that this Court did not reach the merits of one of Defendant's ineffective assistance arguments. View "State v. Wood" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for violating a municipal ordinance prohibiting driving under the influence, holding that there was no error.The State charged Defendant with several offenses arising out of a traffic stop. The State's theory at trial was that Defendant was under the influence of his prescription medications. On appeal, Defendant argued that his medications did not qualify as "any drug" under the relevant ordinance and, alternatively, that there was insufficient evidence that he was under the influence of those prescription medications. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the phrase "any drug" refers to all drugs, including Defendant's prescription medications; and (2) there was sufficient evidence that Defendant was under the influence of his prescription medications. View "State v. Taylor" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reducing Defendant's sentence imposed for his firearm conviction as excessive, holding that the court of appeals erred.Defendant pled no contest to manslaughter and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. The district court accepted Defendant's pleas, found him guilty, and sentenced him to fifteen to twenty years' imprisonment for manslaughter and thirty to forty years' imprisonment for the firearm possession conviction, to be served consecutively. The court of appeals reduced Defendant's sentence on count II to a sentence of ten to fifteen years' to run consecutively to the sentence for the manslaughter conviction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant on the firearm conviction. View "State v. Morton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Defendant's motion for a new trial filed after Defendant was convicted of second-degree murder, use of a firearm to commit a felony, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person were upheld on direct appeal, holding that there was no error.On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that the newly discovered testimony would not have produced a substantial difference in the result had it been offered and admitted at trial because it was not credible. View "State v. Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court overruling Appellant's second motion for discharge on statutory speedy trial grounds, holding that a defendant can permanently waive his or her statutory speedy trial rights even if he or she does not pursue an appeal.Appellant was charged with a crime and filed a motion for discharge on statutory speedy trial grounds. The district court overruled the motion, and Appellant did not appeal. Appellant subsequently filed a second motion for discharge. The district court overruled the motion, concluding that, by filing her first motion, Appellant permanently waived her statutory speedy trial rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a defendant permanently waives her speedy trial rights when an ultimately unsuccessful motion for discharge results in the continuance of a timely trial to a date outside of the statutory six-month period, calculated on the date the motion for discharge was filed. View "State v. Riessland" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court overruling Defendant's motion for absolute discharge, in which Defendant alleged violations of his constitutional and statutory rights to a speedy trial, holding that the district court did not err.On appeal from the denial of his motion for discharge, Defendant argued that the district court erred when it concluded that continuances ordered by the court in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were for good cause and therefore should be excluded from the calculation of the time for bringing him to trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that neither Defendant's statutory nor his federal or state constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated under the circumstances of this case. View "State v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court, sitting as an appellate court, affirming the county court's denial of Defendant's motion for absolute discharge based on her statutory right to a speedy trial, holding that the county court did not clearly err in finding good cause for the judicial delays.Defendant was charged with two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence assault in the third degree. Defendant requested a jury trial. Defendant later filed a motion for absolute discharge, claiming violations of her statutory and constitutional rights to a speedy trial. The county court denied the motion. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly affirmed the county court's order denying Defendant's motion for absolute discharge under Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-1207 because the State failed to meet its burden to show that good cause existed sufficient to toll Defendant's speedy trial rights. View "State v. Chase" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to dismiss with prejudice or for absolute discharge based on late disclosures of discovery information resulting in delays Defendant argued implicated his speedy trial rights and denying Defendant's motion to suppress, holding that there was no error.On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred when it denied his motion to suppress the fruits of the search of his residence, two cell phones taken from his person incident to his unlawful arrest, information obtained from a search of the contents of his two cell phones, cell records and cell site location information from the cell phone service providers. Defendant also challenged the denial of his motion to dismiss and motion for complete discharge. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's assignments of error. View "State v. Short" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court overruling Defendant's motion for postconviction relief, holding that Defendant failed to prove that he suffered prejudice under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984).After a second trial, Defendant was convicted of three counts of first degree murder and related crimes. In his pro se motion for postconviction relief, Defendant argued that he received ineffective assistance of counsel by his counsel's failure to call impeachment witnesses. The district court denied the motion without holding an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant failed to assert an ineffective assistance of counsel claim that warranted an evidentiary hearing. View "State v. Britt" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for second degree assault, holding that the district court's sentence of nineteen to twenty years' imprisonment was not excessive.At the sentencing hearing, the district court noted Defendant's prior criminal history and a probation officer's perception that Defendant showed no remorse. The court sentenced him to nineteen to twenty years' imprisonment. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion by imposing an excessive sentence because it failed adequately to consider mitigating factors. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing a sentence of nineteen to twenty years' imprisonment in this matter. View "State v. Greer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law