Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court convicting Defendant of two counts of sexual assault of a child in the first degree and one count each of attempted sexual assault of a child in the first degree, sexual assault of a child in the third degree, and incest with a victim age seventeen or under, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his allegations of error. After convicting Defendant the district court sentenced him to an aggregate period of 100 years' to life imprisonment, plus an additional term of imprisonment of thirty-two to seventy-three years. Defendant appealed, assigning several evidentiary errors and alleging that the district court inappropriately instructed the jury regarding venue. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion as to the challenged evidentiary rulings; (2) regarding the jury instructions, Defendant was not prejudiced as to necessitate a reversal; (3) the sentencing court did not abuse its discretion, and Defendant's sentences were not excessive; and (4) Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel. View "State v. Lee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Defendant's motion for postconviction relief, holding that that district court did not err in denying Defendant's postconviction claims without an evidentiary hearing and did not err in denying Defendant's request to appoint postconviction counsel. Defendant was convicted of three counts of murder and theft of deception and was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder convictions. The district court denied Defendant's claims for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing and without appointing counsel, holding that all of Defendant's claims were either insufficiently pled, affirmatively refuted by the record, or procedurally barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. View "State v. Oliveira-Coutinho" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order dismissing Defendant's motion for postconviction relief after an evidentiary hearing, holding that Defendant's postconviction motion was time barred. In his postconviction motion, Defendant argued that his trial counsel had provided ineffective assistance in four respects. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court found that Defendant had failed to show his trial counsel performed deficiently and, therefore, dismissed the motion for postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, albeit on different grounds, holding that Defendant's postconviction motion was filed outside the one-year limitations period under Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-3001(4)(a) and thus was time barred. View "State v. Koch" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of knowing and intentional child abuse resulting in death and prison sentence of fifty-five to seventy-five years in prison, holding that there was no merit to any of Defendant's assignments of error. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the trial court did not err in (1) overruling Defendant's motion to suppress; (2) overruling Defendant's plea in abatement; (3) overruling Defendant's motion to quash and rejecting her constitutional challenges; (4) finding Defendant guilty of intentional child abuse resulting in death; and (5) imposing Defendant's sentence. View "State v. Montoya" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and probationary sentence for possession of a controlled substance, holding that the district court did not err when it failed to grant Defendant's motion to suppress evidence found during a search of her vehicle and person, as well as statements Defendant made to law enforcement. On appeal, Defendant argued that the traffic stop concluded and a voluntary police-citizen encounter began before she consented to a search of her vehicle. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) this court has jurisdiction pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1912(2); and (2) the traffic stop terminated when the officer told Defendant she was free to leave and that what followed was a separate encounter not subject to the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, the Supreme Court did not err by overruling Defendant's motion to suppress, motion to reconsider and vacate, and renewed motion to suppress. View "State v. Hartzell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of leaving the scene of an injury accident, holding that the district court did not err in failing to give Defendant's requested instruction regarding the choice of evils defense or in failing to grant a mistrial on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct. During trial, Defendant argued that leaving the scene of the collision was justified because he had to unload the cattle he had been hauling in order to avoid loss of or injury to the cattle. The trial court declined to instruct the jury as to the choice of evils defense, concluding that it was inapplicable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the choice of evils justification was inapplicable in this case; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motion for mistrial. View "State v. Schmaltz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming Defendant's conviction of misdemeanor driving under the influence (DUI), holding that Defendant's allegations of error were without merit. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in affirming the county court's admission of evidence offered at trial that was not disclosed to him and erred in sentencing him because the prior conviction the court relied upon for a second offense was not disclosed to Defendant prior to sentencing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant's arguments regarding discovery violations were rejected due to Defendant's failure to seek a continuance, and there was no prejudice owing to any belated disclosures on the State's part. View "State v. Hatfield" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for first degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's assignments of error. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err in overruling Defendant's motion to suppress the search of his cell phone; (2) the district court did not err in admitting eight photographic exhibits over Defendant's objections and in concluding that multiple photographs of the same wounds on the victim were not unfairly prejudicial; and (3) eight of Defendant's eighteen claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were either without merit or not alleged with sufficient particularity, and the Court was unable to resolve Defendant's remaining claims of ineffective assistance. View "State v. Stelly" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court sentencing Defendant to probation and imposing various terms of probation in connection with Defendant's plea of guilty to driving under the influence, second offense, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to modify one of the probation terms. The district court sentenced Defendant to jail for thirty days and probation for twenty-four months and revoked Defendant's driver's license for eighteen months. Defendant later filed a motion to modify the terms of his probation requesting that the district court remove the terms probation relating to firearms. The district court denied modification, finding that Defendant had not identified a material change in circumstances or any other reason that would entitle him to the relief sought. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that there was not a sufficient change in circumstances so as to entitle Defendant to a modification of the conditions of probation. View "State v. Paulsen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for electronically offering to perform oral sex upon a police decoy portraying a fourteen-year-old girl, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting Neb. R. Evid. 404 evidence and that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting rule 404 evidence of a sexually explicit online chat with another underage woman, and (2) his solicitation of "eating you out" was not sufficient to support the conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the rule 404 evidence was properly admitted as to motive and absence of mistake or accident; and (2) the evidence was sufficient for a jury to find the solicitation "indecent, lewd, lascivious, or obscene" to support the conviction. View "State v. Thomas" on Justia Law