Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court dismissed the State's appeal from a district court order finding Defendant indigent and entitled to court-appointed appellate counsel at the expense of Washington County, holding that the court's order was neither a judgment nor a final, appealable order. On appeal, the State argued that the district court abused its discretion in finding Defendant indigent and entitled to court-appointed appellate counsel because Defendant failed adequately to provide his financial situation, acquired undisclosed additional funds during the pendency of the underlying action, and had sufficient assets to pay for his legal counsel. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the district court's order was not a judgment or a final, appealable order. View "State v. Fredrickson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court dismissed these consolidated appeals in which Appellants argued that the county court erred by concluding it lacked jurisdiction to decide motions to transfer their felony criminal cases to juvenile court, holding that the county court lacked jurisdiction, and therefore, the Supreme Court also lacked jurisdiction. The State filed complaints in county court charging Appellants with felonies. Appellants filed motions asking the county court to transfer their respective cases to juvenile court. In both cases, the county court issued orders stating that it did not have jurisdiction to rule on a motion to transfer to juvenile court. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the county court correctly found that it lacked jurisdiction over Appellants' motions to transfer to juvenile court; and (2) because the county court lacked jurisdiction over the motions to transfer, this Court lacked jurisdiction over these appeals. View "State v. A.D." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences, holding that Defendant's assignment of error related to excessive sentences of incarceration was moot and that the district court did not err in calculating time served and the order of costs and restitution as part of the sentences. Defendant pleaded guilty to misdemeanors related to the unauthorized use of a third-party's financial accounts and the misuse of the party's credit cards. The plea agreement included restitution to the businesses defrauded by the transactions, as well as restitution to the third-party. After the pleas were entered but before sentencing Defendant absconded to Oregon for almost eight years. Defendant was eventually arrested in Oregon, extradited to Nebraska, and sentenced. On appeal, Defendant claimed her sentences were excessive and that the court erred in its calculation of credit for time served and in failing to consider her inability to pay the restitution and costs ordered as part of her sentences. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Defendant completed serving the sentences, her assignment of error alleging excessive sentences was moot; and (2) Defendant's remaining assignments of error were without unavailing. View "State v. McCulley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court overruling BNSF Railway Company's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction this negligence action brought under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. 51 through 60, holding that the district court erred in determining that it could exercise personal jurisdiction over BNSF for claim that were unrelated to BNSF's instate activity. Plaintiff was seriously injured while working for BNSF on a section of train tracks near Houston, Texas. Plaintiff filed a complaint in the district court under FELA, alleging that his injuries were a result of BNSF's negligence. BNSF filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction because BNSF was not "at home" in Nebraska and because Plaintiff's injuries had occurred in Texas. The district court overruled the motion to dismiss, finding that BNSF consented to personal jurisdiction by registering to do business in Nebraska. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that BNSF was not "at home" in Nebraska for purposes of general jurisdiction and that treating BNSF's registration to do business in Nebraska as implied consent to personal jurisdiction would exceed the due process limits set forth in prior cases. View "Lanham v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing with prejudice Plaintiff's action against the State alleging negligence under the State Tort Claims Act (STCA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-8,209 to 81-8,235, on the grounds that the recreational activity exception applied to the facts of this case, holding that Plaintiff's tort claim was not barred by the reaction activity exception. Plaintiff was injured at a state recreational area when a riding lawnmower struck the picnic table where Plaintiff was sitting. Plaintiff brought this tort action against the State. The district court dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding that the State had not waived its sovereign immunity because Plaintiff's claim fell within the STCA's recreational activity exception. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, at this stage in the proceeding, the allegations of Plaintiff's complaint and the reasonable inferences therefrom did not allow a court to find as a matter of law that Plaintiff's tort claim was barred by the recreational activity exception of section 81-8,219(14)(a)(i). View "Brown v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming the judgment of the county court convicting Defendant of solicitation of prostitution, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's claim that he was selectively prosecuted for solicitation based on gender. Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence and statements and served subpoenas duces tecum claiming that he had been selected prosecuted based on his gender. The county court quashed the subpoenas and denied Defendant's motions to suppress and to dismiss. The court then convicted Defendant of the offense. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that neither the county court nor the district court erred when it found that Defendant had not been selectively prosecuted based upon his gender. View "State v. Valentino" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for third-offense driving under the influence, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress or in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial. After a law enforcement officer stopped Defendant a breath test showed that Defendant had an elevated blood alcohol level. On appeal, Defendant challenged, among other things, the denial of her motion to suppress the evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under the totality of the circumstances, the officer's seizure of Defendant was supported by a particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. View "State v. Krannawitter" on Justia 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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In this case concerning the interpretation of a contingency fee for legal services between the City of Falls City, Nebraska and two law firms, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court concluding that no fees were due under the agreement or on the firms' equitable claim and granting summary judgment for Falls City as to the claims under the fee agreement, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing both the contract and equitable claims. This appeal centered around a fee dispute between Falls City and the attorneys representing Falls City in prior litigation. The district court concluded that the contingency under the fee agreement was not met and that, thus, the first were not entitled to a fee under the agreement. The district court further concluded that the firms had no equitable rights to assert against Falls City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no merit to the firms' claim that they were entitled to a fee under the agreement and that there was no merit to the firms' equitable claim. View "DH-1, LLC v. City of Falls City" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts