Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the county court denying the petition to remove a trustee filed by certain trust beneficiaries, holding that the beneficiaries failed to prove that the trustee's removal was not inconsistent with a material purpose of the trust. The trust beneficiaires in this case filed a petition to modify the trust to remove Elkhorn Valley Bank & Trust as trustee and approve Jennifer Lea Wilson as successor trustee. The county court issued a written order denying the petition to remove the Bank as trustee, determining that removal would be inconsistent with a material purpose of the trust. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that removal was inconsistent with a material purpose of the trust, and therefore, the county court did not err in denying the beneficiaries' motion. View "In re Trust Created by Fenske" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences, holding that there was no merit to the assignments of error that the Court could reach on direct appeal. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion by imposing excessive sentences and that his counsel provided ineffective assistance in four separate instances. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion when imposing the sentences because the court considered relevant factors and did not consider improper factors; and (2) three of Defendant's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel lacked merit, and the record was insufficient to address the fourth claim on direct appeal. View "State v. Blaha" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellant's motion for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing, holding that Appellant's counsel did not provide ineffective assistance. Appellant pled no contest to second degree murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony. Appellant later filed an amended motion for postconviction relief asserting two claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court denied the motion without an evidentiary hearing, holding that Defendant did not allege sufficient facts and that the record affirmatively disproved his claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the facts alleged were insufficient to show deficient conduct by trial counsel and that the record affirmatively disproved Defendant's allegations. View "State v. Privett" on Justia Law

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After the charge against Appellant for theft by unlawful taking was dismissed the Supreme Court reversed the district court's order granting in part Appellant's motion for return of property seized from him and originally alleged to be stolen, holding that the burden of proof was not properly applied. As part of a plea agreement, the State dismissed the charge against Appellant of theft by unlawful taking. Thereafter, Appellant filed a motion for return of the property seized from him. The district court conducted an evidentiary hearing and then ordered some items of property returned to Appellant and others returned to Appellant's former employer. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the district court erred as a matter of law by requiring Appellant, as the proponent of the motion seeking the return of property seized from him, to prove ownership of the property seized. View "State v. Ebert" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from civil contempt proceedings in a dissolution action, holding that a contemnor's full compliance with a purge plan rendered moot a subsequent appeal of the finding of contempt. After the dissolution of her marriage to James Bramble, Lori Bramble was found to have willfully violated the provisions of the decree. The court established a purge plan but did not impose a sanction for the contempt. Lori filed a timely motion to alter or amend the order, which the court overruled. Lori appealed, arguing that the district court erred by finding her in contempt and by imposing a purge plan. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the appeal was moot because Lori had fully and voluntarily purged herself of the civil contempt finding she sought to overturn, and no legally cognizable interest continued to exist. View "Bramble v. Bramble" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's sentences for manslaughter and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person and remanded this matter for resentencing for those offenses, holding that there was plain error in Defendant's sentencing. Defendant was convicted of manslaughter, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, and pandering. On appeal, Defendant assigned nine errors. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's sentences in part, holding that the district court's failure to impose an indeterminate sentence when required by statute constituted plain error and that there was plain error in the district court's award of a credit for time served. Otherwise, the Court affirmed, holding that Defendant's assignments of error were without merit. View "State v. Briggs" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of two counts of first degree sexual assault of a child and one count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant's convictions and that Defendant failed to sufficiently allege ineffective assistance of counsel. On appeal, Defendant asserted that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions and that his trial counsel was ineffective. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Defendant's first assignment of error was without merit and that Defendant failed to allege ineffective assistance of counsel was sufficient particularity. View "State v. Sinkey" on Justia Law

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In this negligence action brought by Plaintiff, the mother and special administrator of the estate of Chad Gesin, who committed suicide while in the Gage County jail, the Supreme Court affirmed the finding of the district court that Plaintiff's action was barred by sovereign immunity under Neb. Rev. Stat. 13-910(1), holding that the district court properly found that Plaintiff's claim was barred by section 13-910(1). Plaintiff brought this action against the County of Gage, Nebraska, the Gage County sheriff, and unknown Gage County sheriff's employees under the Nebraska Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 13-901 to 13-928, alleging that Defendants failed to follow the jail's established protocol and knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that Gesin was suicidal. The district court concluded that Defendants had exercised due care and that Defendant's action was barred by sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it concluded that Plaintiff's claim for money damages was barred under section 13-910(1) and that Defendants were entitled to judgment in their favor. View "Reiber v. County of Gage" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying Ariana Bernal Sabino's request for in forma paupers status on appeal from the district court's entry of a decree dissolving her marriage to Juan Carlos Genchi Ozuna, holding that the district court erred in denying Sabino's request to proceed in forma paupers in her appeal from the divorce decree. The district court dissolved the parties' marriage in this case but denied Sabino's petition for findings of fact regarding the abuse, abandonment, and neglect of her children by Ozuna. Sabino filed a motion to appeal accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. The district court denied the motion, finding that Sabino was not destitute or not in the condition that she could not pay the appeal expenses. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-2301.02, Sabino lacked sufficient funds to pay costs, fee, or security. View "Sabino v. Ozuna" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the judgment of the district court finding that Defendant owed Plaintiff $1,214,056 in unpaid profits and that Plaintiff was entitled to prejudgment interest in the amount of $97,582 pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 45-104, holding that there was no error in applying section 45-104 to award prejudgment interest to Plaintiff but that there was an error in calculating prejudgment interest. Ten years after the parties agreed to farm together and share net profits equally Plaintiff brought this action. The district court awarded unpaid profits and prejudgment interest after a bench trial. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in awarding prejudgment interest under section 45-104 without also finding that Plaintiff's claim was liquidated under Neb. Rev. Stat. 45-103.02(2). The Supreme Court modified the amount of prejudgment interest to $460,210, holding (1) section 45-103.02 and section 45-104 provide separate and independent means of recovering prejudgment interest in Nebraska, and when a claim is of the type enumerated in section 45-104, then prejudgment interest may be recovered without regard to whether the claim is liquidated; and (2) prejudgment interest was properly awarded pursuant to section 45-104 in this case, but it was incorrectly calculated. View "Weyh v. Gottsch" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts