Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellant's third motion for post conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing, holding that there was no merit to Appellant's claims on appeal. Defendant was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and other felony offenses and sentenced to death. In his third postconviction motion, Defendant alleged that the Legislature's statute providing for the repeal of the death penalty, 2015 Neb. Laws, L.B. 268, changed his death sentence to life imprisonment and that the rejection of L.B. 268 by public referendum imposed a death sentence, the referendum was constitutionally impermissible, and he was harmed thereby. The district court concluded that Defendant failed to allege sufficient facts that demonstrated a violation of his constitutional rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in denying postconviction relief. View "State v. Torres" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court affirming Defendant's convictions and sentences, holding that the district court did not err when it rejected each of Defendant's contentions regarding his sentences. Defendant was convicted in the county court of twenty-one misdemeanor counts of violating a protection order and sentenced to county jail for 180 days on each count, to be served consecutively. Defendant appealed, arguing that his sentences were excessive, disproportionate, and invalid. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no plain error when the county court did not announce at the sentencing hearing where Defendant's sentences would be served; (2) Defendant's individual sentences were not grossly disproportionate; and (3) the district court did not err when it affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences. View "State v. Becker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of criminal conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, holding that the district court did not err in overruling Defendant's motion to suppress and that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his remaining claims of error. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err in declining to suppress evidence obtained during and derived from an electronic interception of Defendant's cellular telephone communications; (2) the district court correctly determined that the State's submission of an application to intercept Defendant's communications to the Attorney General two days prior to submitting it to the court did not violate the timing requirement of Neb. Rev. Stat. 86-291; and (3) the interception of Defendant's communications while he was outside the State of Nebraska was within the territorial jurisdiction of the court because the communications were redirected and first listened to at a Nebraska listening post. View "State v. Brye" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences for four counts of first degree sexual assault, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not commit plain error when it admitted the DNA evidence that linked Defendant to the assaults; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it overruled Defendant's motion to remove counsel and appoint substitute counsel; and (3) regarding Defendant's claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, either the record on direct appeal showed the claim was without merit or that the record was not sufficient to review the claim. View "State v. Weathers" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellant's second amended motion for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing, holding that Appellant was not entitled to postconviction relief for his constitutional claims. Appellant's constitutional claims in his motion for postconviction relief alleged that he was shackled during jury selection, the sentencing scheme requiring a judge to make factual findings to impose the death penalty was unconstitutional, and his constitutional rights were violated by the Legislature's passing a bill repealing the death penalty but a public referendum reimposing it. The district court denied postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that each of Appellant's constitutional claims failed. View "State v. Mata" 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 that district court did not err in denying Defendant's postconviction claims without an evidentiary hearing and did not err in denying Defendant's request to appoint postconviction counsel. Defendant was convicted of three counts of murder and theft of deception and was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder convictions. The district court denied Defendant's claims for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing and without appointing counsel, holding that all of Defendant's claims were either insufficiently pled, affirmatively refuted by the record, or procedurally barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. View "State v. Oliveira-Coutinho" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of knowing and intentional child abuse resulting in death and prison sentence of fifty-five to seventy-five years in prison, holding that there was no merit to any of Defendant's assignments of error. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the trial court did not err in (1) overruling Defendant's motion to suppress; (2) overruling Defendant's plea in abatement; (3) overruling Defendant's motion to quash and rejecting her constitutional challenges; (4) finding Defendant guilty of intentional child abuse resulting in death; and (5) imposing Defendant's sentence. View "State v. Montoya" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and probationary sentence for possession of a controlled substance, holding that the district court did not err when it failed to grant Defendant's motion to suppress evidence found during a search of her vehicle and person, as well as statements Defendant made to law enforcement. On appeal, Defendant argued that the traffic stop concluded and a voluntary police-citizen encounter began before she consented to a search of her vehicle. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) this court has jurisdiction pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1912(2); and (2) the traffic stop terminated when the officer told Defendant she was free to leave and that what followed was a separate encounter not subject to the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, the Supreme Court did not err by overruling Defendant's motion to suppress, motion to reconsider and vacate, and renewed motion to suppress. View "State v. Hartzell" on Justia Law

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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