Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that officials within the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (DCS) violated his federal constitutional rights in the calculation of his parole eligibility, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the complaint for failure to state a claim.In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that officials within the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (DCS) violated his federal constitutional rights in calculating his parole eligibility date. In dismissing the complaint, the district court found that the United States Supreme Court's decision in Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74 (2005), precluded him from bringing his complaint because he challenged the fact or duration of his confinement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed adequately to allege that DCS violated his federal constitutional rights in any respect. View "Schaeffer v. Frakes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court denying Michael Meister's motion to quash and vacate in a garnishment action that sought to collaterally attack a Wyoming judgment obtained by Gem City Bone and Joint, P.C. against Meister, holding that the Wyoming court incorrectly determined that it had jurisdiction over Meister as an individual.Earlier in the registration and enforcement process Meister and his professional corporation challenged the foreign judgment claiming that the Wyoming court lacked personal jurisdiction to enter judgment against either himself personally or his professional corporation. The district court disagreed and permitted the registration of the foreign order, a decision that Meister and his organization failed timely to appeal. Thereafter, Gem City requested a garnishment to enforce the registered judgment against Meister. In response, Meister filed a motion to quash the garnishment and to vacate the Wyoming judgment. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that the Wyoming court improperly exercised jurisdiction over Meister as an individual. View "Gem City Bone & Joint, P.C. v. Meister" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for one count of attempted first degree sexual assault of a child and one count of child abuse, holding that the district court did not err by finding Defendant competent to stand trial and in sentencing Defendant.After convicting Defendant, the Supreme Court sentenced Defendant sentencing Defendant to incarceration for terms of twenty to twenty-two years and three years to be served concurrently. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in determining that Defendant was competent to stand trial; and (2) Defendant's sentences were within the statutory sentencing range, and Defendant failed to show that the district court considered improper factors or abused its discretion in sentencing him. View "State v. Lauhead" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment for REO Enterprises, LLC and declaring that the Village of Dorchester's ordinance No. 684 unconstitutionally violated the Equal Protection Clauses of the United States and Nebraska Constitutions, holding that the ordinance did not violate the Equal Protection Clauses.REO filed a complaint requesting that the district court declare ordinance No. 684 void because it violated the Equal Protection Clauses. Specifically, REO argued that the ordinance treated tenants and owners of property differently when applying for utility services by requiring tenants to obtain a landlord's written guarantee that the landlord would pay any unpaid utility charges for the rented property. The district court entered summary judgment for REO. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the ordinance's requirement that a residential tenant obtain a landlord's guarantee for initiating utility services did not violate the Equal Protection Clauses of the state and federal Constitutions. View "REO Enterprises, LLC v. Village of Dorchester" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's plea-based convictions of conspiracy to distribute or deliver a controlled substance (hydrocodone), conspiracy to distribute or deliver a controlled substance (tramadol), and child abuse, holding that there was no reversible error in the proceedings below.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err in accepting Defendant's guilty pleas because the information expressly alleged overt acts in furtherance of the charged conspiracy to distribute and deliver hydrocodone and tramadol, and the factual basis was sufficient to satisfy Wharton's Rule and support Defendant's guilty pleas; (2) Defendant's assignment of ineffective assistance of trial counsel for counsel's failure to properly inform her of Wharton's Rule was without merit; and (3) the record was insufficient to reach Defendant's claim of ineffective assistance due to her trial counsel's alleged conflict of interest. View "State v. Theisen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for possession of a controlled substance, holding that the district court did not err when it overruled Defendant's motion to suppress.In his motion to suppress, Defendant asserted that he was seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment because the police didn't to have reasonable suspicion to detain and question him and that the search of his personal effects was unconstitutional because the circumstances did not justify a warrantless search. The trial court determined that reasonable suspicion supported a lawful detention for an investigatory stop and that probable cause existed to justify the search. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the detention of Defendant was an investigatory stop justified by reasonable suspicion; and (2) the search of Defendant's personal effects was undertaken with consent. View "State v. Saitta" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Defendant postconviction relief, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims.Defendant was convicted of first degree murder on a felony murder theory and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. Defendant filed multiple motions for postconviction relief, which the district court denied without a hearing. On appeal, the Supreme Court found that Defendant was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel for counsel's failure to advise him of his right to testify and ineffective assistance of appellate counsel for counsel's failure to assert on appeal that his right to self-representation was violated at trial. On remand, the district court found that Defendant was not entitled to relief. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court did not commit reversible error in denying relief on Defendant's two remaining claims. View "State v. Ely" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the juvenile court adjudicating Abigail G.'s son, Vladimir G., to be a child within the meaning of Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(a), holding that although Abigail could invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to testify in this adjudication, any error on the part of the juvenile court in requiring her testimony was not reversible.During the adjudication hearing, Abigail objected to testifying based on Fifth Amendment grounds. The court overruled Abigail's objection. After the hearing, the county court filed an order finding Vladimir to be a child within the meaning of section 43-247(3)(a). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) even if the court erred in failing to determine that at least part of Abigail's testimony was incriminating and therefore protected by Abigail's invocation of her Fifth Amendment privilege, such error was not reversible because there was sufficient evidence to support the adjudication without such testimony and because Abigail's Fifth Amendment rights were not violated; and (2) there was sufficient evidence to support the adjudication that Vladimir was a child within the meaning of section 43-247(3)(a). View "In re Interest of Vladimir G." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences for aiding and abetting robbery and for aiding and abetting first degree assault, holding that Defendant's assignments of error were either without merit or could not be considered in this appeal.Defendant was convicted in a second jury trial after his first trial ended in a deadlocked jury and a mistrial was declared. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in the first trial by failing to ask the jury whether it was deadlocked on each count and when it overruled Defendant's plea in bar filed after the declaration of a mistrial and before the second trial. Defendant further claimed that in the second trial, (1) the trial court abused its discretion when it denied Defendant's motion for a new trial, (2) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument, (3) counsel was ineffective, (4) there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction, and (5) the trial court imposed excessive sentences. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that some of Defendant's allegations of error could not be considered in this appeal and that, as to the remaining allegations, the district court did not err or abuse its discretion. View "State v. Price" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's plea-based conviction for third degree domestic assault, attempted tampering with a witness or informant, and violating a protection order, holding that Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel.On appeal, Defendant asserted that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to move to continue the plea in abatement, failing to file a plea in abatement, failing to move the trial court to require the State to produce the alleged victim for deposition and exclude the alleged victim as a witness, failing to move to suppress Defendant's statement, and counseling Defendant to enter a plea. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant failed to show that his counsel provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. View "State v. Anderson" on Justia Law