Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of qualified immunity to county deputy sheriff James Roark in this action brought by Marilyn Walton pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. In her complaint, Walton alleged a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights when Roark entered Waldron’s home to serve a warrant on Waldron’s grandson. Specifically, Waldron alleged that Roark violated the knock-and-announce rule and that her arrest was unlawful. The district court ultimately granted summary judgment in favor of Roark on the basis that he was entitled to qualified immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Waldron did not meet her burden of showing that Roark violated a clearly established right in any of Waldron’s claims. View "Waldron v. Roark" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s admission of evidence obtained during a search of Defendant’s room. The district court overruled Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized from Defendant's bedroom following his consent to a search. The court found that the search warrant for the common areas of a house and a roommate’s bedroom was invalid but that Defendant voluntarily consented to the search of his bedroom and that the search was sufficiently attenuated from the invalid warrant. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the district court correctly determined that Defendant’s consent was voluntary and that it was not obtained by exploitation of the prior illegality of the search warrant. View "State v. Bray" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Plaintiff inmates and grant of injunctive relief enjoining state officials and their agents from denying the inmates a marriage ceremony via videoconference or enforcing the Department of Correctional Services’ policy that interfered with Plaintiffs’ ability to marry. The Department denied Plaintiffs’ request to marry under an internal policy that it does not transport an inmate to another facility for a marriage ceremony. The inmates were also denied a marriage ceremony via videoconferencing because the Department interpreted Neb. Rev. Stat. 42-109 to require Plaintiffs to both appear physically before an officiant. Plaintiffs sued Defendants - state officials - in their individual capacities for interfering with the inmates’ request to marry. The district court concluded that the Department’s policy impermissibly burdened the inmates’ right to marry and that its interpretation of section 42-109 was constitutionally flawed and granted an injunction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in granting the inmates juncture relief because Defendants could only be sued for injunctive relief in their official capacities. View "Gillpatrick v. Sabatka-Rine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion for a new trial, holding that the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule applied in this case. Defendant was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). The following day, the United States Supreme Court held in Birchfield v. North Dakota, __ U.S. ___ (2016), that a blood test may not be administered without a warrant as a search incident to an arrest for DUI. Defendant timely moved for a new trial, arguing that, in light of the new rule of constitutional law announced in Birchfield, it was error to admit the result of a warrantless test of his blood. The district court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the good faith exception applies to warrantless blood draws connected prior to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Birchfield. View "State v. Hoerle" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment in favor of Plaintiff, a former officer at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, and against Scott Busboom, an officer at the facility, holding that Busboom was entitled to qualified immunity on Defendant’s claim that he was denied due process when he was placed on unpaid investigatory suspension without any opportunity to be heard. The district court determined that Busboom was not entitled to qualified immunity in his individual capacity because Busboom had signed the letter suspending Plaintiff while acting under color of state law and that “any reasonable officer” in his position would have understood that Plaintiff was entitled to a hearing before being deprived of a protected property interest. In reversing, the Supreme Court held (1) when Plaintiff was suspended without pay, the law did not clearly establish that a public employer must first provide notice and an opportunity to respond to allegations of misconduct to an employee with a protected property interest in continued employment, and therefore, Busboom was entitled to qualified immunity; and (2) Plaintiff failed to show that he was deprived of due process because he did not receive a posttermination hearing. View "White v. Busboom" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the county court erred in overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress. The county court overruled Defendant’s motion after finding that the community caretaking exception to the Fourth Amendment applied. The district court and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals, albeit on different grounds, holding (1) because the initial police-citizen encounter did not amount to a seizure, it was not necessary to invoke the community caretaking exception; but (2) the circumstances clearly established reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed, and therefore, the detention that followed the stop of Defendant’s vehicle was constitutionally permitted. View "State v. Rivera" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order dismissing with prejudice Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Plaintiff, which operated commercial grain warehouses and elevators and owned trading businesses through Nebraska, filed a complaint alleging that several defendants engaged in a pattern of behavior with the intent to deprive it of information, an opportunity to be heard, and due process of law. The district court concluded that Defendants were entitled to immunity under Nebraska’s Consumer Protection Act and the Noerr-Pennington doctrine and that Plaintiff’s claims of conspiracy and aiding and abetting required an underlying tort to be actionable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because Defendants were entitled to immunity under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine and Plaintiff alleged only underlying statutory violations; and (2) any amendment to Plaintiff’s petition would be futile. View "Salem Grain Co. v. Consolidated Grain & Barge Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the district court sustaining Defendants’ motion for summary judgment and overruling Plaintiff’s motion to alter or amend the judgment in this action brought by Plaintiff against the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska and Kevin Ruser. In her complaint, Plaintiff asserted claims of discriminatory wage and employment practices based on her sex, as well as claims of employment retaliation arising from occurrences while she was a supervising attorney for the civil clinic law program at the University of Nebraska College of Law. The district court concluded that Plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of wage discrimination, failure to promote because of sex, retaliation, and retaliation in violation of public policy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it sustained Defendants’ motion for summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff’s claims and did not abuse its discretion when it overruled Plaintiff’s subsequent motion to alter or amend the judgment. View "Knapp v. Ruser" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled no contest to first degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Defendant was sixteen years old at the time of the murder. Defendant’s life sentence was later vacated pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Defendant was granted a resentencing. The district court resentenced Defendant to imprisonment for eighty years to life after a hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s resentencing, holding (1) the sentencing court did not impose a de facto life sentence in violation of the Eighth Amendment and Neb. Const. art. I, 9 and 15; (2) the district court did not err when it did not make specific findings of fact regarding age-related characteristics; and (3) Defendant’s sentence of eighty years’ to life imprisonment with parole eligibility at age fifty-six was not unconstitutionally disproportionate. View "State v. Jones" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized during the detention and search of a vehicle in which she was a passenger, as well as the sentence imposed for Defendant’s possession of a controlled substance conviction. In regard to her motion to suppress, Defendant argued that the initial encounter with the lead law enforcement officer amounted to a seizure when she was detained after the officer determined that the wanted individual was not in the vehicle and that the investigatory stop was not supported by reasonable suspicion. The Supreme Court held (1) the lead officer had reasonable suspicion of illegal activity to justify the detention of the vehicle’s passengers after the officer determined that the wanted individual was not in the vehicle; and (2) the sentence imposed did not constitute an abuse of discretion. View "State v. Rogers" on Justia Law