Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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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 of one count of first degree sexual assault and sentence of four to ten years' imprisonment, holding that each of Defendant's assignments of error was without merit.On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion in certain evidentiary rulings, by denying his motion to continue, and in imposing an excessive sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in its challenged evidentiary rulings; (2) there was no abuse of discretion in the denial of Defendant's motion to continue; and (3) the court did not abuse its discretion in imposing a sentence of four to ten years' imprisonment on Defendant. View "State v. Abligo" 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 vacated the order of the the district court revoking Defendant's probation and sentencing him to three years of imprisonment, holding that the district court plainly erred in failing to impose mandatory post-release supervision as part of Defendant's total sentence.Defendant pleaded no contest to two counts of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person and a third degree domestic assault. The district court sentenced Defendant to a thirty-month term of intensive supervised probation. Later, the State amended the motion to revoke probation. The district court revoked Defendant's probation but did not impose post-release supervision. The Supreme Court vacated the decision below and remanded the case with directions to modify the sentences, holding that the trial court committed plain error by failing to impose post-release supervision. View "State v. Roth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences resulting from his no contest pleas to charges of conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit burglary, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.The district court accepted Defendant's no contest pleas to conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit burglary and sentenced him to consecutive terms of imprisonment of twenty-six to thirty-two years for conspiracy to commit robbery and fourteen to twenty years for conspiracy to commit burglary. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not did abuse its discretion by placing undue weight on Defendant's criminal history or by failing to consider other relevant sentencing factors. View "State v. Thomas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of first-degree sexual assault and his sentence of twenty-five to thirty years' imprisonment, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.Defendant's convictions stemmed from his conduct of exploiting his position as K.G.'s Olympic trainer and sexually penetrating her through coercion and deception. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant's conviction; (2) Defendant did not receive an excessive sentence; and (3) Defendant's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel either lacked merit or could not be addressed on the record. View "State v. Anders" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of second degree murder and his sentence of imprisonment for a term of seventy-one years to life, holding that the evidence adduced at trial was sufficient to establish the corpus delicti of homicide beyond a reasonable doubt.Defendant, the last person known to have seen Tyler Thomas alive, was charged with first-degree murder in relation to Thomas' disappearance. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of second degree murder. As his sole point on appeal, Defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to establish the corpus delicti of homicide. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's assigned error. View "State v. Keadle" 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

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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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Kearney Officer Newell, dispatched to an apartment, spoke with J.S., who reported that upon leaving his garden-level apartment, he saw a man crouched down by a window to the apartment’s bathroom. J.S. did not mention seeing the individual holding a cell phone. J.S. showed Newell the path the person took in leaving. Approximately half a block from the apartment J.S. discovered a cell phone and handed it to Newell. Newell completed an affidavit. asking the judge for permission to examine the cell phone for evidence of the crime of unlawful intrusion on September 25, 2018. The search conducted pursuant to the warrant revealed multiple images of women in various states of undress and led to McGovern. Based on what was found, a second warrant was obtained in another jurisdiction. McGovern was convicted of sexual assault in the first degree, sexual assault in the third degree, and recording a person in a state of undress.The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed. The first search warrant was supported by probable cause and was sufficiently particular and because law enforcement reasonably saw evidence of a different crime during the initial search, the court did not err in overruling a suppression motion. The overall sentencing was not an abuse of discretion. View "State v. McGovern" on Justia Law