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 Defendant's motion to withdraw his no contest pleas to six felony charges, holding that there was no error.After the district court accepted Defendant's no contest pleas, Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his pleas, claiming that he wanted to withdraw his pleas so that he could obtain a second opinion as to his sanity at the time of the charged offenses. The district court denied the motion to withdraw. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by overruling Defendant's motion to withdraw his pleas; and (2) the record was insufficient to review Defendant's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal. View "State v. Warner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for driving under the influence (DUI), fourth offense, and driving during revocation, second offense, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's assigned errors.After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of non-aggravated DUI and of driving during revocation and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. The trial court further revoked Defendant's operator's license for a period of fifteen years following his release from incarceration. On appeal, Defendant alleged five instances of error, including the denial of his motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in finding that Defendant's warrantless blood test was reasonable for purposes of the Fourth Amendment; (2) there was no error in the district court's challenged evidentiary rulings; (3) the evidence supported the convictions; and (4) Defendant's challenges to the sentences imposed were unavailing. View "State v. Miller" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment the district court denying postconviction relief sought by Defendant without conducting an evidentiary hearing, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by failing to hold an evidentiary hearing on Defendant's claims.Defendant was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death on each murder conviction. Defendant later filed what the district court referred to as his fifth postconviction motion, alleging (1) after the Legislature passed L.B. 268 abolishing the death penalty and when L.B. 268 was subsequently repeated by public referendum, his constitutional rights were violated; and (2) he was constitutionally ineligible for imposition of the death penalty under Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002). The court summarily denied relief on both claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly found that Defendant's Atkins claim was both procedurally barred and time barred; and (2) Defendant's L.B. 268 claim was meritless. View "State v. Lotter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying postconviction relief sought by Appellant, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court affirmed. Appellant later filed a timely pro se motion for postconviction relief alleging that his trial counsel had been ineffective in challenging the admissibility and weight of the State's DNA evidence presented at trial. The district court denied postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence demonstrated that defense counsel's performance was the product of reasonable trial strategy; and (2) Appellant failed to show that his trial counsel performed deficiently in their treatment of the probability statistic admitted at trial. View "State v. Ellis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of second degree murder and sentence of a period of incarceration of no less than sixty years and no more than life, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pled guilty to one count of second degree murder. Under the plea agreement, the State agreed to make a recommendation of a sentence of twenty years. After she was sentenced, Defendant brought this appeal, arguing that the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by failing to make a sentencing recommendation consistent with the plea agreement and claiming that the sentence was excessive. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the prosecutor's remarks regarding sentencing did not breach the plea agreement and were not improper; and (2) the district court did not impose an excessive sentence. View "State v. Cooke" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Defendant's motion for postconviction relief, holding that the district court did not err in denying the motion for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing.Defendant was convicted of intentional child abuse resulting in death and was sentenced to imprisonment for seventy years to life. The conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal. Defendant later filed her motion for postconviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of both trial and appellate counsel. The district court concluded that the motion should be summarily dismissed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it denied Defendant's postconviction claims without an evidentiary hearing. View "State v. Cullen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of first degree murder, use of a firearm to commit a felony, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, holding that Defendant failed to show that he was entitled to relief on his claims of error.On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in concluding that he was competent to stand trial and erred in admitting evidence that Defendant alleged was obtained in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the district court's conclusion that Defendant was competent to stand trial; and (2) there was no merit to Defendant's second and third assignments of error. View "State v. Surber" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding Defendant guilty of possession of a controlled substance and finding him to be a habitual criminal, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.Defendant was arrested after a police officer discovered methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in Defendant's vehicle and his person. After his conviction, Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress and finding him to be a habitual criminal, and asserting that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion and that Defendant's ineffective assistance claims were either without merit or not alleged with sufficient particularity. View "State v. Drake" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part the order of the district court overruling Appellant's motion for absolute discharge wherein Appellant alleged violations of his statutory and constitutional rights to a speedy trial, holding Appellant was not entitled to relief.Appellant was charged with domestic violence assault in the third degree and strangulation. After several continuances, Appellant filed a motion to discharge on speedy trial grounds. The district court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part, holding (1) the district court's order was sufficiently specific regarding the causes of the delay and the period of delay; (2) the district court's finding that Appellant's case should not be dismissed on statutory speedy trial grounds was not clearly erroneous; and (3) this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction to review Moody’s claim that he was entitled to absolute discharge on constitutional speedy trial grounds. View "State v. Moody" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's motion for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.Appellant, a middle school teacher, per no contest to four counts of possession of child pornography in violation of Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-813.01. The court sentenced Appellant concurrent terms of ten to twenty years' imprisonment on each count and ordered Appellant to register as a sex offender. Appellant later sought postconviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court denied relief without an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that that the district court did not err in (1) not holding an evidentiary hearing on Appellant's claims; and (2) denying Appellant's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. View "State v. Jaeger" on Justia Law