Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's nineteen convictions for first degree sexual assault, incest, and intentional abuse of a vulnerable adult, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) Defendant failed to raise his arguments that the district court violated his constitutional due process and double jeopardy protections in the district court and thus waived the issues for appeal; (2) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant's convictions for first degree sexual assault; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant's convictions for intentional abuse of a vulnerable adult. View "State v. Bershon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court dismissing certain defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that the defendants' contacts were too attenuated for them to have purposefully established minimum contacts within Nebraska.The out-of-state defendants at issue on appeal facilitated the sale of allegedly defective software installed by a local mechanic in four of Plaintiff's trucks. Plaintiff asserted against them claims for strict liability, negligence, and breach of implied warranties. The district court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, concluding that Plaintiff failed to make a prima facie showing of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the quality and nature of the defendants' activities related to this action did not support personal jurisdiction. View "Wheelbarger v. Detroit Diesel ECM, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part and remanded this matter for a new trial, holding that the district court erred in proceeding to a trial without a jury on Plaintiff's causes of action for breach of contract, breach of guaranty, and unjust enrichment.Plaintiff's brought this complaint against Defendants for, among other causes of action, forcible entry and detainer. The district court granted relief on the forcible entry and detainer claim, ordering restitution. After a bench trial, the district court heard the remaining causes of action and awarded damages to Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Plaintiff's remaining causes of action were legal in nature, and the issues of fact that arose thereunder entitled Defendants to a jury trial unless waived; and (2) there was no waiver of Defendants' right to a jury trial. View "132 Ventures, LLC v. Active Spine Physical Therapy, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing and without first giving him an opportunity to respond to the State's reply, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion for postconviction relief.Defendant was convicted of first degree murder, use of a weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person. The Supreme Court affirmed. Thereafter, Defendant brought his motion for postconviction relief, raising several allegations of error. The district court rejected Defendant's claims without holding an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's assignments of error. View "State v. Jennings" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant, following a jury trial, of disturbing the peace, holding that the district court did not err by reviewing his appeal only for plain error and that the record was insufficient to reach Defendant's argument that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a statement of errors.Defendant's counsel timely appealed Defendant's county court conviction and later filed a bill of exceptions but did not file a statement of errors within ten days of filing the bill of exceptions. Consequently, the district court reviewed the appeal only for plain error and affirmed the judgment below. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err by limiting its review to plain error; and (2) the record was insufficient to reach Defendant's remaining argument. View "State v. Warren" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant, after a jury trial, of sexual assault in the first degree, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in prohibiting Defendant from questioning the complaining witness, J.K., about her prior allegation against a doctor.On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred by prohibiting from asking J.K. about an allegation she made against her prenatal doctor regarding inappropriate touching during the course of a prenatal examination. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court's decision to exclude the evidence did not violate Defendant's constitutional right to confront his accuser. View "State v. Ali" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that the Village of Dorchester was entitled to summary judgment on REO Enterprises, LLC's claims remaining on remand, holding that there was no error.At issue was an ordinance enacted by the Village providing that renters of property could receive utility services from the village only if their landlord guaranteed that the landlord would pay any unpaid utility charges. REO brought this action seeking a declaration that the ordinance was unenforceable. The district court declared that the ordinance violated constitutional equal protection principles, but the Supreme Court reversed and remanded for consideration of REO's other claims. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Village on the remaining claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the Village. View "REO Enterprises, LLC v. Village of Dorchester" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his no contest pleas to six felony charges, holding that there was no error.After the district court accepted Defendant's no contest pleas, Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his pleas, claiming that he wanted to withdraw his pleas so that he could obtain a second opinion as to his sanity at the time of the charged offenses. The district court denied the motion to withdraw. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by overruling Defendant's motion to withdraw his pleas; and (2) the record was insufficient to review Defendant's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal. View "State v. Warner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for driving under the influence (DUI), fourth offense, and driving during revocation, second offense, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's assigned errors.After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of non-aggravated DUI and of driving during revocation and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. The trial court further revoked Defendant's operator's license for a period of fifteen years following his release from incarceration. On appeal, Defendant alleged five instances of error, including the denial of his motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in finding that Defendant's warrantless blood test was reasonable for purposes of the Fourth Amendment; (2) there was no error in the district court's challenged evidentiary rulings; (3) the evidence supported the convictions; and (4) Defendant's challenges to the sentences imposed were unavailing. View "State v. Miller" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment the district court denying postconviction relief sought by Defendant without conducting an evidentiary hearing, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by failing to hold an evidentiary hearing on Defendant's claims.Defendant was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death on each murder conviction. Defendant later filed what the district court referred to as his fifth postconviction motion, alleging (1) after the Legislature passed L.B. 268 abolishing the death penalty and when L.B. 268 was subsequently repeated by public referendum, his constitutional rights were violated; and (2) he was constitutionally ineligible for imposition of the death penalty under Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002). The court summarily denied relief on both claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly found that Defendant's Atkins claim was both procedurally barred and time barred; and (2) Defendant's L.B. 268 claim was meritless. View "State v. Lotter" on Justia Law