Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's motion to suppress statements he made to law enforcement in an alleged violation of his Miranda rights, holding that the district court correctly denied the motion to suppress.In denying Defendant's motion to suppress, the district court found that Defendant's pre-Miranda statements made to law enforcement were voluntary and not the result of an interrogation and that Defendant's post-Miranda statements were made voluntarily. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's pre-Miranda statements were made voluntarily and not in response to a custodial interrogation; and (2) there was sufficient evidence for a trier of fact to find that Defendant made his post-Miranda statements voluntarily. View "State v. Connelly" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part an order denying Defendant's motion for postconviction relief on his ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims, holding that precedent required that the Court vacate the portion of the order related to ineffective assistance for failure to investigate.Defendant pled guilty to three counts of first degree murder and other crimes. No direct appeal was filed. Thereafter, Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief, alleging that counsel was ineffective for failing to file a direct appeal and that he would not have entered into the plea agreement if his attorney had properly investigated his case. The district court denied postconviction relief. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment in part, holding (1) the district court properly denied Defendant's ineffective assistance claim concerning his direct appeal; and (2) the district court failed to follow the directive in State v. Determan, 873 N.W.2d 390 (Nev. 2016), when disposing of Defendant's second postconviction claim. View "State v. Dalton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court affirming the judgment of the county court overruling Defendant's motion for absolute discharge under Nebraska's speedy trial statutes, holding that Defendant was entitled to absolute discharge under the speedy trial statutes.The State filed theft charges against Defendant on March 29, 2017. When Defendant did not appear for a scheduled arraignment the county court issued a warrant for his arrest. On April 24, 2019, Defendant was arrested. Defendant moved for absolute discharge on the grounds that he had been denied his statutory right to a speedy trial. The county court overruled the motion, stating that the period of time during which the arrest warrant was pending was excluded under the speedy trial statutes. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the lower courts erred in finding that the pendency of the warrant resulted in excluded time, and the State produced insufficient evidence at the speedy trial hearing that could support any other basis for excluded time; and (2) Defendant was entitled to absolute discharge under the speedy trial statutes. View "State v. Chapman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that officials within the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (DCS) violated his federal constitutional rights in the calculation of his parole eligibility, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the complaint for failure to state a claim.In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that officials within the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (DCS) violated his federal constitutional rights in calculating his parole eligibility date. In dismissing the complaint, the district court found that the United States Supreme Court's decision in Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74 (2005), precluded him from bringing his complaint because he challenged the fact or duration of his confinement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed adequately to allege that DCS violated his federal constitutional rights in any respect. View "Schaeffer v. Frakes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court denying Michael Meister's motion to quash and vacate in a garnishment action that sought to collaterally attack a Wyoming judgment obtained by Gem City Bone and Joint, P.C. against Meister, holding that the Wyoming court incorrectly determined that it had jurisdiction over Meister as an individual.Earlier in the registration and enforcement process Meister and his professional corporation challenged the foreign judgment claiming that the Wyoming court lacked personal jurisdiction to enter judgment against either himself personally or his professional corporation. The district court disagreed and permitted the registration of the foreign order, a decision that Meister and his organization failed timely to appeal. Thereafter, Gem City requested a garnishment to enforce the registered judgment against Meister. In response, Meister filed a motion to quash the garnishment and to vacate the Wyoming judgment. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that the Wyoming court improperly exercised jurisdiction over Meister as an individual. View "Gem City Bone & Joint, P.C. v. Meister" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for one count of attempted first degree sexual assault of a child and one count of child abuse, holding that the district court did not err by finding Defendant competent to stand trial and in sentencing Defendant.After convicting Defendant, the Supreme Court sentenced Defendant sentencing Defendant to incarceration for terms of twenty to twenty-two years and three years to be served concurrently. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in determining that Defendant was competent to stand trial; and (2) Defendant's sentences were within the statutory sentencing range, and Defendant failed to show that the district court considered improper factors or abused its discretion in sentencing him. View "State v. Lauhead" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment for REO Enterprises, LLC and declaring that the Village of Dorchester's ordinance No. 684 unconstitutionally violated the Equal Protection Clauses of the United States and Nebraska Constitutions, holding that the ordinance did not violate the Equal Protection Clauses.REO filed a complaint requesting that the district court declare ordinance No. 684 void because it violated the Equal Protection Clauses. Specifically, REO argued that the ordinance treated tenants and owners of property differently when applying for utility services by requiring tenants to obtain a landlord's written guarantee that the landlord would pay any unpaid utility charges for the rented property. The district court entered summary judgment for REO. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the ordinance's requirement that a residential tenant obtain a landlord's guarantee for initiating utility services did not violate the Equal Protection Clauses of the state and federal Constitutions. View "REO Enterprises, LLC v. Village of Dorchester" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's plea-based convictions of conspiracy to distribute or deliver a controlled substance (hydrocodone), conspiracy to distribute or deliver a controlled substance (tramadol), and child abuse, holding that there was no reversible error in the proceedings below.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err in accepting Defendant's guilty pleas because the information expressly alleged overt acts in furtherance of the charged conspiracy to distribute and deliver hydrocodone and tramadol, and the factual basis was sufficient to satisfy Wharton's Rule and support Defendant's guilty pleas; (2) Defendant's assignment of ineffective assistance of trial counsel for counsel's failure to properly inform her of Wharton's Rule was without merit; and (3) the record was insufficient to reach Defendant's claim of ineffective assistance due to her trial counsel's alleged conflict of interest. View "State v. Theisen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for possession of a controlled substance, holding that the district court did not err when it overruled Defendant's motion to suppress.In his motion to suppress, Defendant asserted that he was seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment because the police didn't to have reasonable suspicion to detain and question him and that the search of his personal effects was unconstitutional because the circumstances did not justify a warrantless search. The trial court determined that reasonable suspicion supported a lawful detention for an investigatory stop and that probable cause existed to justify the search. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the detention of Defendant was an investigatory stop justified by reasonable suspicion; and (2) the search of Defendant's personal effects was undertaken with consent. View "State v. Saitta" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Defendant postconviction relief, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims.Defendant was convicted of first degree murder on a felony murder theory and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. Defendant filed multiple motions for postconviction relief, which the district court denied without a hearing. On appeal, the Supreme Court found that Defendant was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel for counsel's failure to advise him of his right to testify and ineffective assistance of appellate counsel for counsel's failure to assert on appeal that his right to self-representation was violated at trial. On remand, the district court found that Defendant was not entitled to relief. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court did not commit reversible error in denying relief on Defendant's two remaining claims. View "State v. Ely" on Justia Law