Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of two counts of sexual assault of a child in the first degree and other crimes and sentencing Defendant to consecutive terms totaling between 180 years’ to life imprisonment, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below requiring reversal. Specifically, the Court held that the district court (1) did not err in refusing to give Defendant’s proposed jury instruction on sex trafficking of a minor; (2) did not abuse its discretion in overruling Defendant’s motions for mistrial and in overruling his evidentiary objections; and (3) did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant. View "State v. Swindle" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s successive motion for postconviction relief on the grounds that the motion was time barred under the one-year limitations period of Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-3001(4), holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion without holding an evidentiary hearing. Appellant was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder and other offenses. Appellant was sentenced to death for each of the murders. Appellant later filed this successive motion for postconviction relief, alleging that his death sentences were unconstitutional under Hurst v. Florida, __ U.S. __ (2015), and Johnson v. United States, __ U.S. __ (2015). The district court determined, sua sponte, that the successive motion was time barred under section 29-3001(4) and denied postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly determined that Appellant’s successive postconviction motion was time barred; and (2) the district court did not err in the procedure it followed. View "State v. Torres" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court overruling Defendant’s postconviction motion claiming ineffective assistance of counsel without an evidentiary hearing and without appointing counsel, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. Defendant later filed a pro se motion for postconviction relief setting forth three claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The district court rejected each of Defendant’s claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err when it overruled Defendant’s postconviction motion without an evidentiary hearing because Defendant failed to show prejudice from trial counsel’s alleged errors; and (2) did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion to appoint counsel because the postconviction proceeding contained no justiciable issue of law or fact. View "State v. Taylor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the sentences imposed in connection with Defendant’s conviction for second degree murder and first degree assault, holding that there was no merit to the arguments Defendant raised on appeal regarding his sentences. Defendant was seventeen years old at the time of the offenses. He was sentenced to sixty years’ to life imprisonment for second degree murder and to forty to fifty years’ imprisonment for first degree assault, with the sentences to run consecutively. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Defendant will be eligible for parole at age sixty-seven, Defendant did not receive a de facto life sentence; and (2) the district court did not impose excessive sentences. View "State v. Steele" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s plea-based conviction and sentence for attempted violation of Nebraska’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA), holding that the district court did not commit plain error by accepting the factual basis for the plea and by sentencing Defendant. On appeal, Defendant argued that there was no factual basis for the district court to accept his plea because he was not required to register in Nebraska and therefore could not have violated SORA by failing to register in Nebraska. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-4003(1)(a)(iv) requires registration in Nebraska where an individual is required to register in another municipality or jurisdiction of the United States; and (2) there was a sufficient factual basis for Defendant’s plea to attempted violation of SORA. View "State v. Clemens" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of aggravated driving under the influence and displaying unlawful or fictions license plates. The Court held that the district court did not err in (1) there was probable cause to support Defendant’s arrest for operating a motor vehicle to avoid arrest; (2) law enforcement had probable cause to arrest Defendant for driving under the influence (DUI); and (3) the court did not err in finding Defendant guilty of second-offense DUI and unlawful/fictitious display of license plates. View "State v. Petsch" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Defendant’s postconviction motion on the grounds that the motion was filed outside the one-year limitations period under Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-3001(4). In 2011, Defendant pled no contest to one count of attempted assault on an officer and admitted he was a habitual criminal. In 2013, Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief, alleging that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a direct appeal after Defendant asked that he do so. The district court dismissed the motion, finding that that motion was time barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the files and records affirmatively showed that Defendant’s postconvcition motion was time barred. View "State v. Conn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, holding that the district court did not err when it overruled Defendant’s motion to reveal the identity of a confidential informant and when it admitted a gun into evidence over Defendant’s objection. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that it did not appear that the confidential informant may be able to give testimony necessary to a fair determination of the issue of guilt or innocence on the charges pending against Defendant; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it determined that there was adequate foundation to allow the gun into evidence. View "State v. Blair" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Because third degree sexual assault is not a lesser-included offense of first degree sexual assault, the juvenile court erred in adjudicating Jordan B. based on its finding that he committed third degree sexual assault when the only law violation alleged in the petition was first degree sexual assault. The county attorney filed a petition asking the juvenile court to adjudicate Jordan as a juvenile who committed an act that would constitute a felony pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(2). The felony alleged was first degree sexual assault, as described in Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-319. The juvenile court found that the State failed to prove Jordan committed acts constituting first degree sexual assault as charged. Nevertheless, the court raised sua sponte the “lesser included offense” of third degree sexual assault and adjudicated Jordan as a child within the meaning of section 43-247(1). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the juvenile court adjudicated Jordan on grounds for which he had no notice, in violation of the Due Process Clauses of the Nebraska and United States Constitutions. View "In re Interest of Jordan B." on Justia Law

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Because third degree sexual assault is not a lesser-included offense of first degree sexual assault, the juvenile court erred in adjudicating Jordan B. based on its finding that he committed third degree sexual assault when the only law violation alleged in the petition was first degree sexual assault. The county attorney filed a petition asking the juvenile court to adjudicate Jordan as a juvenile who committed an act that would constitute a felony pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(2). The felony alleged was first degree sexual assault, as described in Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-319. The juvenile court found that the State failed to prove Jordan committed acts constituting first degree sexual assault as charged. Nevertheless, the court raised sua sponte the “lesser included offense” of third degree sexual assault and adjudicated Jordan as a child within the meaning of section 43-247(1). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the juvenile court adjudicated Jordan on grounds for which he had no notice, in violation of the Due Process Clauses of the Nebraska and United States Constitutions. View "In re Interest of Jordan B." on Justia Law