by
The stop of Defendant’s vehicle for the purpose of gathering information about the presence of stolen firearms and other criminal activity at the residence Defendant drove from, for which a search warrant was being sought, did not violate Defendant’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article 1, section 7 of the Nebraska Constitution. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court convicting Defendant of felony possession of a controlled substance, holding (1) the application of the balancing test set forth in Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47 (1979), which recognizes that warrantless seizures without reasonable suspicion may be reasonable under certain circumstances, was appropriate under the facts of this case; and (2) the stop was reasonable under Brown. View "State v. Sievers" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from an order dismissing his amended complaint alleging that the conditions at the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP) violate his rights under Nebraska law and that his claims are representative of all inmates housed in the segregation units at the NSP, holding that this matter was moot. Appellant sued the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (DCS), its director, and other officials and employees of the DCS, asserting that prison officials violate his rights when they place another prisoner in his “medically designed one-man segregation single-cell,” which disturbs his circadian rhythm. The district court dismissed the amended complaint for failing to state a cause of action. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal, holding that because Appellant no longer resided at the NSP, this matter was moot. View "Nesbitt v. Frakes" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court denying Employer’s motion for summary judgment on Employee’s lawsuit filed under the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA) alleging that Employer discriminated against him based on his age, sex, and national origin. Matthew Jahnke, an employee of Deere & Co., worked as a factor manager at Harbin Works in Harbin, China under a contract with a Deere Chinese subsidiary. As discipline for Jahnke engaging in sexual relationships with two Chinese employees, Jahnke was ultimately removed as the factor manager, repatriated back to the United States, and assigned to a position of lesser authority and lower pay in Waterloo, Iowa. Jahnke filed suit under the ICRA. In its motion for summary judgment, Deere claimed that the ICRA did not apply extraterritorially and that Jahnke based his claims on allegations of discriminatory acts that occurred outside of Iowa. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the ICRA does not apply extraterritorially; and (2) because Jahnke failed to show that either he or Deere was located within Iowa for purposes of the alleged discriminatory act, Jahnke had no claim under the ICRA. View "Jahnke v. Deere & Co." on Justia Law

by
Circuit courts possess statutory competency to proceed in criminal matters when the adult defendant was charged for conduct he committed before his tenth birthday. Defendant was charged with four counts of criminal misconduct. Defendant was nine through twelve years old during the time period charged in count one and fourteen through eighteen years old during the time period charged in counts two through four. Defendant was nineteen years old when the charges were filed. The jury acquitted Defendant of count one but convicted him of counts two through four. Defendant brought a postconviction motion alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to bring a pre-trial motion to dismiss count one. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the defendant’s age at the time he is charged, not his age at the time the underlying conduct occurred, determines whether charges are properly brought as a criminal matter. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court possessed statutory competency to hear Defendant’s case as a criminal matter because he was an adult at the time he was charged; and (2) therefore, Defendant’s counsel did not perform deficiently by failing to raise a meritless motion. View "State v. Sanders" on Justia Law

by
The intent-effects test is the proper test used to determine whether a sanction is “punishment” such that due process requires a defendant be informed of it before entering a plea of guilty. In the instant case, the circuit court failed to inform Defendant that his plea of guilty to second-degree sexual assault would subject him to lifetime GPS tracking pursuant to Wis. Stat. 301.48. The circuit court concluded that lifetime GPS tracking is not punishment and therefore denied Defendant’s motion to withdraw his plea. Applying the intent-effects test to the facts of this case, the Supreme Court affirmed, holding that neither the intent nor effect of lifetime GPS tracking is punitive. View "State v. Muldrow" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the order of the circuit court ruling that Defendant’s trial counsel’s failure to object to an exhibit sent to the jury during deliberations constituted ineffective assistance with respect to only one of the six counts for which Defendant was convicted. On appeal, Defendant argued that all six of his convictions should be vacated due to his trial counsel’s deficient performance and that the State forfeited its right to argue the prejudice prong of the ineffective assistance test at his Machner hearing. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) circuit courts reviewing claims of ineffective assistance of counsel following multiple-count trials may conclude that deficient performance prejudiced only one of the multiple convictions; and (2) the State did not forfeit its right to challenge the prejudice prong of the ineffective assistance test when it did not petition the Supreme Court for review following the court of appeals’ original decision remanding for a Machner hearing. View "State v. Sholar" on Justia Law

by
Department of Correction impoundments do not violate the First Amendment but the failure to give proper notice of them does violate the Fourteenth Amendment. PLN filed suit contending that the Department's impoundments of its monthly magazine violated its constitutional rights. Applying the Turner standard to determine whether the impoundments of PLN's magazine violated the First Amendment, the court held that limiting three-way calling ads, pen pal solicitation ads, cash-for-stamps ads, prisoner concierge and people locator ads was not so remote from the Department's security and safety interests as to render the impoundments arbitrary or irrational; there were alternative means for PLN to send alternate publications; the impact of accommodating the asserted right favored the Department; and the Department's decision to impound was not an exaggerated response. The court held, however, that the power to impound comes with a duty to inform PLN of the reasons for the impoundments, and thus the district court did not abuse its discretion in entering an injunction to require the Department to adhere to its own notice rules. View "Prison Legal News v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

by
The circuit court erred in admitting evidence seized as the result of an unlawful, warrantless search, a search that failed to satisfy any of the exceptions to the warrant requirement. Petitioner was convicted and sentenced for possession of a controlled substance, cocaine, with intent to deliver. On appeal, Petitioner argued that the circuit court erred by admitting evidence seized from his person because the evidence was obtained without a search warrant and that none of the exceptions to the warrant requirement were satisfied. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed Petitioner’s conviction, holding that the evidence was seized unlawfully and that the admission of the evidence was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court remanded the case for a new trial. View "State v. Barefield" on Justia Law

by
Laux broke into his ex‐wife’s home and murdered her with a crowbar. An Indiana jury decided that the aggravating circumstance that he committed murder during a burglary outweighed the primary mitigating circumstance that he had no criminal history and recommended a sentence of life without parole, which the court imposed. Indiana state courts affirmed Laux’s convictions and sentence. After a post‐conviction hearing, they also rejected the claim that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. Laux filed a federal habeas corpus petition. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of relief, rejecting a claim that trial counsel was ineffective by not fully investigating and presenting all of the available mitigating evidence about Laux’s childhood that surfaced at his post‐conviction hearing. The state courts’ conclusion that Laux received effective assistance of counsel was not unreasonable. A defendant can often point to some additional subject and argue it should have been pursued further. The Sixth Amendment does not require counsel to investigate every conceivable line of mitigation evidence—it requires counsel to make reasonable decisions about which matters to pursue. The evidence of Laux’s childhood failed to show significant hardship; he was never a victim of abuse or neglect, was never in trouble, and excelled in high school and college. View "Laux v. Zatecky" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and dismissed in part the order of the circuit court denying Appellant’s petition for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.5. The Court reversed and dismissed as to the issue of whether trial counsel’s failure to present the affirmative defense of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect was ineffective assistance of counsel, holding that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to consider this issue. The Court otherwise affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in finding that counsel did not provide ineffective assistance as to Appellant’s remaining allegations of defective representation; and (2) the cumulative error rule in allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel should not be recognized in Arkansas. View "Lacy v. State" on Justia Law