Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for first degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's assignments of error. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err in overruling Defendant's motion to suppress the search of his cell phone; (2) the district court did not err in admitting eight photographic exhibits over Defendant's objections and in concluding that multiple photographs of the same wounds on the victim were not unfairly prejudicial; and (3) eight of Defendant's eighteen claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were either without merit or not alleged with sufficient particularity, and the Court was unable to resolve Defendant's remaining claims of ineffective assistance. View "State v. Stelly" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court overruling Defendant's motion for discharge on statutory and constitutional speedy trial grounds, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Defendant was not entitled to discharge. The State filed an information against Defendant charging him with theft by receiving stolen property and other offenses. After the trial was continued several times Defendant filed a motion for discharge on statutory and constitutional speedy trial grounds. The district court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed after applying the four factor-test set forth in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972), holding that neither Defendant's statutory nor constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated. View "State v. Lovvorn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming Defendant's conviction of driving under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher, first offense, holding that, assuming a warrant for Defendant's blood draw was invalid, the good faith exception applied and exclusion of the blood evidence was not required. After a bench trial before the county court, Defendant appealed his conviction to the district court. Defendant argued that the county court erred in overruling his motion to suppress his blood test on the grounds that the affidavit supporting the warrant for the blood draw was insufficient to support a probable cause finding. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) even assuming that the warrant was insufficient to support a finding of probable cause, the good faith exception set forth in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984), applied; and (2) therefore, the district court did not err in affirming Defendant's conviction. View "State v. Kruse" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, holding that, under the doctrine set forth in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), Plaintiff's claims were not cognizable under section 1983. Plaintiff moved out of the Johnson Lake area after harassment protection orders were issued against him. Although Plaintiff was given a "ban notice" he repeatedly trespassed, Plaintiff received two convictions for trespass. In the instant complaint, Plaintiff allegedly that he was unconstitutionally excluded from the Johnson Lake area in that he could not travel or reside there or engage in recreation and his occupation. The district court found in favor of Defendants on all claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's convictions for trespassing were fundamentally inconsistent with the various civil claims alleged in his complaint, and therefore, Plaintiff's section 1983 claims were not cognizable under the Heck doctrine. View "Maloley v. Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding Defendant guilty of four counts each of murder in the first degree, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person and sentencing Defendant to death, holding that the district court did not err in accepting Defendant's pleas of no contest. During the criminal proceedings, the trial court granted Defendant's motion to represent himself and accepted Defendant's waiver of his right to a jury trial. Defendant entered a plea of no contest to every count. After a sentencing hearing, Defendant was sentenced to death for each of the four murder counts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant was competent to enter his pleas of no contest, and the pleas were valid; (2) the court did not commit reversible error when it allowed Defendant to proceed pro se; (3) the trial court did not err in determining that Defendant was competent; (4) the trial court did not err by denying Defendant's motion to preclude the death penalty as a violation of the Ex Post Facto Clauses of the state and federal constitutions; and (5) Defendant's challenges to the constitutionality of the death penalty procedure were unavailing. View "State v. Jenkins" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of manufacturing a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school and possession of a controlled substance, holding that the lower court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained during and after his interaction with law enforcement. Defendant argued that suppression was warranted because he was unlawfully seized, his statements were obtained in violation of Miranda, and his consent to the search was coerced. The district court concluded that the initial seizure of Defendant was appropriate, Defendant's other statements were not made during a custodial interrogation, and Defendant's consent to the search of his residence was voluntary and not coerced. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant's Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights were not violated in this case. View "State v. Schriner" on Justia Law

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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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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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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellant's motion for postconviction relief following an evidentiary hearing, holding that the district court did not err in denying Appellant's motion for postconviction relief. Appellant pled no contest to first degree assault and tampering with a witness and was sentenced to fifty to fifty years' imprisonment. Following the denial of his direct appeal, Petitioner initiated this postconviction proceeding, alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at both the trial and appellate levels. The district court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's claims were either without merit or that Appellant failed to establish prejudice. View "State v. Beehn" on Justia Law