Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court imposing an aggregate sentence of forty-two to fifty-five years in prison in connection with Defendant's no contest pleas to possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, attempted first degree assault, and use of a firearm to commit a felony, holding that Defendant's sentences were not excessive, and Defendant's trial counsel was not ineffective. Specifically, the Court held (1) Defendant's claims that his counsel was ineffective for failing to utilize an interpreter when meeting with Defendant and failing to investigate, collect evidence, and interview witnesses were without merit; (2) the record was insufficient to address whether Defendant's counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress regarding Defendant's statements to law enforcement officers; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when sentencing Defendant. View "State v. Chairez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying without an evidentiary hearing Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief, holding that the district court did not err in denying postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony. In his postconviction motion, Appellant alleged that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. The district court denied the motion without a hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that counsel provided effective assistance and that the district court did not err in denying Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing. View "State v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction and sentence for robbery, holding that none of Defendant’s argument on appeal warranted reversal of his conviction. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err when it admitted into evidence a note that was found in what Defendant claimed was an improper search of his person; (2) the district court did not err when it determined that Defendant was competent to stand trial and for sentencing; (3) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction; (4) the district court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant; and (5) as to Defendant’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, the claims were either without merit, not sufficiently stated, or could not be reviewed on direct appeal. View "State v. Garcia" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying, without a hearing, Plaintiff’s application to proceed in forma pauperis, holding that the district court’s action was authorized by Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-2301.02. On appeal, Plaintiff did not challenge section 25.2301.02 but argued that the lack of a hearing in his case was unconstitutional. Plaintiff, however, did not file notice under Neb. Cr. R. App. P. 2-109(E) that is required for a party to present a case involving the constitutionality of a statute. The Supreme Court rejected Plaintiff’s argument on appeal, holding that notice under section 2-109(E) is required whenever the litigant implicitly challenges the constitutionality of a statute that, while not addressed in the appellate brief, explicitly authorizes the act the litigant claims is unconstitutional. View "Smith v. Wedekind" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences for first degree sexual assault of a child, incest with a person under eighteen years of age, and third degree sexual assault of a child, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his claims raised on appeal. Specifically, the Court held (1) the age classifications defining sexual assault of a child in Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-319.01(1)(a) and associated mandatory sentence in Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-319.01(2) are not unconstitutional; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in its challenged evidentiary rulings; (3) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions; and (4) Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel. View "State v. Hibler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court convicting Defendant of driving under the influence, fifth offense, and aggravated driving under the influence (DUI), fifth offense, holding that Defendant’s trial counsel provided effective assistance and that Defendant’s sentence was not excessive. The primary issue on appeal was whether Defendant’s trial counsel was ineffective by failing to offer at an enhancement hearing available evidence that purportedly would have established that the State was precluded from relitigating a Wisconsin court’s determination that a prior conviction was invalid for enhancement purposes. The Supreme Court held (1) issue preclusion does not apply to sentence enhancement proceedings, and therefore, Defendant was not prejudiced by his trial counsel’s failure to offer into evidence at the enhancement hearing the Wisconsin motion to preclude; and (2) the district court did not err by imposing excessive sentences. View "State v. Spang" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the district court convicting Defendant of three counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, holding that the trial court did not err in overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress. Defendant was arrested after law enforcement stopped and searched his person and belongings. In their search, the officers found illegal drugs and brass knuckles. The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s decision overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress after applying the community caretaking exception to the Fourth Amendment to justify Defendant’s continued detention after officers completed their initial investigation related to a reported altercation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the initial detention and investigation were reasonable and did not amount to a de facto arrest; (2) Defendant’s continued detention following the initial investigation was reasonable; and (3) the warrantless search of Defendant’s person did not violate the Fourth Amendment. View "State v. Shiffermiller" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief, holding that there was no merit to Appellant’s claims that his counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to preserve objections to certain evidence introduced at trial. Appellant was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to fifty years to life imprisonment. Appellant filed a motion for postconviction relief, which was denied without an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court reversed with respect to certain ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims and remanded for an evidentiary hearing. Thereafter, the district court held an evidentiary hearing and denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in denying Appellant postconviction relief. View "State v. Huston" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences for first degree sexual assault of a child and felony child abuse, holding that the trial court did not violate Defendant’s constitutional right of confrontation and that Defendant’s remaining claims of error were without merit. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial court erred in hearing the alleged victim’s testimony outside Defendant’s presence without adequately safeguarding Defendant’s confrontation rights, but the error was harmless; (2) the record was not sufficient to review Defendant’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel; (3) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions; and (4) the district court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of second-degree degree murder and other offenses, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress and that Defendant’s other assignments of error lacked merit. On appeal from his convictions and sentences, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress cell site location information (CSLI) in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Carpenter v. United States, __ U.S. __ (2018). The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) even though the acquisition of CSLI violated Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights, the district court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress because the exclusionary rule did not apply; (2) suppression is not an available remedy for violation of the Stored Communications Act; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion by allowing certain testimony; and (4) the district court id not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant. View "State v. Brown" on Justia Law