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 denying postconviction relief sought by Appellant, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court affirmed. Appellant later filed a timely pro se motion for postconviction relief alleging that his trial counsel had been ineffective in challenging the admissibility and weight of the State's DNA evidence presented at trial. The district court denied postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence demonstrated that defense counsel's performance was the product of reasonable trial strategy; and (2) Appellant failed to show that his trial counsel performed deficiently in their treatment of the probability statistic admitted at trial. View "State v. Ellis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that Plaintiff did not qualify for an extended redemption period under Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-1827 and that the tax certificate sale process at issue in this case did not violate Plaintiff's constitutional rights, holding that there was no error.Because Plaintiff did not pay her 2013 property taxes the Lancaster County treasurer to a private party. Three years later, the tax certificate holder applied for and obtained a tax deed to the property. Plaintiff subsequently brought this action seeking to quiet title to the property in her name, arguing that the issuance of the tax deed had violated her rights under the state and federal constitutions and that she had a statutory right to a five-year redemption period under Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-1827. The district court dismissed all claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to the statutory extended redemption period or when it dismissed her constitutional claims. View "Nieveen v. TAX 106" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of second degree murder and sentence of a period of incarceration of no less than sixty years and no more than life, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pled guilty to one count of second degree murder. Under the plea agreement, the State agreed to make a recommendation of a sentence of twenty years. After she was sentenced, Defendant brought this appeal, arguing that the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by failing to make a sentencing recommendation consistent with the plea agreement and claiming that the sentence was excessive. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the prosecutor's remarks regarding sentencing did not breach the plea agreement and were not improper; and (2) the district court did not impose an excessive sentence. View "State v. Cooke" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of first degree murder, use of a firearm to commit a felony, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, holding that Defendant failed to show that he was entitled to relief on his claims of error.On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in concluding that he was competent to stand trial and erred in admitting evidence that Defendant alleged was obtained in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the district court's conclusion that Defendant was competent to stand trial; and (2) there was no merit to Defendant's second and third assignments of error. View "State v. Surber" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding Defendant guilty of possession of a controlled substance and finding him to be a habitual criminal, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.Defendant was arrested after a police officer discovered methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in Defendant's vehicle and his person. After his conviction, Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress and finding him to be a habitual criminal, and asserting that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion and that Defendant's ineffective assistance claims were either without merit or not alleged with sufficient particularity. View "State v. Drake" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part the order of the district court overruling Appellant's motion for absolute discharge wherein Appellant alleged violations of his statutory and constitutional rights to a speedy trial, holding Appellant was not entitled to relief.Appellant was charged with domestic violence assault in the third degree and strangulation. After several continuances, Appellant filed a motion to discharge on speedy trial grounds. The district court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part, holding (1) the district court's order was sufficiently specific regarding the causes of the delay and the period of delay; (2) the district court's finding that Appellant's case should not be dismissed on statutory speedy trial grounds was not clearly erroneous; and (3) this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction to review Moody’s claim that he was entitled to absolute discharge on constitutional speedy trial grounds. View "State v. Moody" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's motion for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.Appellant, a middle school teacher, per no contest to four counts of possession of child pornography in violation of Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-813.01. The court sentenced Appellant concurrent terms of ten to twenty years' imprisonment on each count and ordered Appellant to register as a sex offender. Appellant later sought postconviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court denied relief without an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that that the district court did not err in (1) not holding an evidentiary hearing on Appellant's claims; and (2) denying Appellant's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. View "State v. Jaeger" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part the order of the district court overruling Defendant's motion for absolute discharge, holding that the district court did not err in determining that Defendant was not entitled to absolute discharge on statutory speedy trial grounds.Defendant was charged with one count of first degree sexual assault. Defendant later filed a motion for absolute discharge, arguing that the State violated his statutory and constitutional rights to a speedy trial and that the district court erred by finding that continuances of trial in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were for good cause. The Supreme Court held (1) Defendant was not entitled to absolute discharge on statutory speedy trial grounds; and (2) this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction to review Defendant's claim that he was entitled to absolute discharge on constitutional speedy trial grounds. View "State v. Abernathy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence but vacated the portion of the court's postconviction order prematurely addressing claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, holding that Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims were either insufficiently raised or affirmatively refuted by the record.In pro se motions, Defendant alleged ineffective assistance of counsel and asked for appointment of counsel. After appointing counsel for Defendant the court granted as relief a new direct appeal. Defendant's notice of appeal, motion to proceed in forma pauperis, and poverty affidavit were filed within thirty days after the final order granting the new direct appeal. The property affidavit, however, had been executed by Defendant more than forty-five days before the filing of the notice of appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction but vacated the postconviction order addressing Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims unrelated to the request for relief of a new direct appeal, holding that, with one exception, Defendant's claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel in the new direct appeal were either insufficiently raised or affirmatively refuted by the record. View "State v. Blake" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of disturbing the peace and of assault or menacing threats, both in violation of city ordinances in Lincoln, Nebraska, holding that there was no error in Defendant's convictions or sentences.Defendant's conviction arose from his acts of shouting in a loud, menacing, and persistent manner from his apartment's balcony at persons across the street. Defendant appealed his convictions and their resulting ten-day jail sentences. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) even if Defendant's speech was constitutionally protected, the State may regulate it through reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of speech; and (2) Defendant's conviction for assault or menacing threats was supported by sufficient evidence. View "State v. Grant" on Justia Law