Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court denied the motion for attorney fees and expenses against the State by the intervenor in a juvenile proceeding who successfully appealed a final order during the pendency of the case, holding that the State's limited waiver of sovereign immunity set forth in Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1804(1) did not apply to the fees and expenses sought.On appeal, the parties disputed whether the juvenile proceedings were a civil action and whether they were brought by the State and whether the State was substantially justified in its position. The Supreme Court held (1) the State's position in bringing and maintaining the underlying petition for adjudication was substantially justified; and (2) accordingly, no statute provided for the recovery of the intervenor's attorney fees and expenses incurred in this appeal. View "In re Interest of A.A." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the juvenile court adjudicating Prince R. as a child who lacked proper parental care by reason of the fault or habits of his parents, holding that the juvenile court did not err.In its adjudication petition, the State asserted that Prince's parents had failed to ensure that Prince received necessary medical care after he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. After a hearing, the juvenile court found that Prince lacked proper parental care by reason of the fault or habits of the parents and that the parents' actions placed Prince at a definite risk of harm. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the juvenile court did not err by adjudicating Prince as a child that lacked proper parental care by reason of the fault or habits of his parents. View "In re Prince R." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of restitution entered by the separate juvenile court after Juvenile admitted to an amended allegation of disturbing the peace and quiet of another person, holding that the juvenile court had the authority to order restitution for medical expenses so long as such order was in the interest of the juvenile's reformation or rehabilitation.As a term of probation, the juvenile court ordered Juvenile to pay $500 in restitution for the victim's medical expenses. Juvenile court argued on appeal that the Nebraska Juvenile Code does not authorize a juvenile court to order restitution for medical expenses incurred by a victim. The Supreme Court affirmed the order of restitution for medical expenses, holding (1) Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-286(1)(a) authorized the juvenile court to order Juvenile to pay restitution for medical expenses; and (2) there was sufficient evidence to support a finding that Juvenile caused the victim's injuries and to support the amount of restitution ordered, and the order of restitution was in the interest of Juvenile's reformation and rehabilitation. View "In re Interest of Seth C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed these consolidated appeals in which Appellants argued that the county court erred by concluding it lacked jurisdiction to decide motions to transfer their felony criminal cases to juvenile court, holding that the county court lacked jurisdiction, and therefore, the Supreme Court also lacked jurisdiction.The State filed complaints in county court charging Appellants with felonies. Appellants filed motions asking the county court to transfer their respective cases to juvenile court. In both cases, the county court issued orders stating that it did not have jurisdiction to rule on a motion to transfer to juvenile court. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the county court correctly found that it lacked jurisdiction over Appellants' motions to transfer to juvenile court; and (2) because the county court lacked jurisdiction over the motions to transfer, this Court lacked jurisdiction over these appeals. View "State v. A.D." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the juvenile court placing Giavonni P. At the Lincoln Regional Center (LRC), holding that the juvenile court had the authority to place Giavonni at the LRC on a specific date or otherwise.The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services appealed, arguing that the placement orders usurped the LRC's statutory authority to administer and manage its patient admission and discharge process. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the order in this case was final; (2) this Court reaches the merits of these appeals under the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine; (3) the juvenile court had the authority to order this placement; and (4) while an adult facility was not the optimal choice for a juvenile offender, Giavonni's placement at the LRC was in his best interests at the time of his placement. View "In re Interest of Giavonni P." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the separate juvenile court adjudicating Reality W. as being habitually truant from school, holding that the statutory defenses to adjudication under Neb. Rev. Stat. 79-209(2)(b) and 43-276(2) did not apply based on the record in this case.On appeal, Reality asserted that her school failed in its obligation to address barriers to attendance under section 79-209(2)(b) and that there was insufficient evidence that the county attorney made reasonable efforts to refer her and her family to community-based resources prior to filing a petition, as required under section 43-276(2). The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the juvenile court correctly concluded that Reality did not have a defense to adjudication under section 79-209; and (2) Reality did not have a defense to adjudication under section 43-276(2). View "In re Interest of Reality W." on Justia Law

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In these appeals arising from juvenile proceedings involving Michael N. and his parents (Parents), the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that this Court lacked jurisdiction to consider the issues raised by the County Attorney's Office and that the issues raised by Parents in their appeals had either been waived or had no merit.After an appeal to the court of appeals and the State's dismissals and refilings of petitions, Parents separately moved to dismiss based on lack of service. Parents also moved, unsuccessfully, for recusal of the trial judge. The juvenile court ordered that the County Attorney's office be removed as counsel for the State and ordered the appointment of a special commissioner. Thereafter, the juvenile court denied the motions to dismiss and entered a detention order requiring that Michael remain in the temporary custody of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Multiple appeals were then filed. The Supreme Court held (1) this Court lacked jurisdiction over the County Attorney's Office's appeal from the order removing it from the case and appointing a special prosecutor; (2) Parents' appeals of the order denying their motions to dismiss and the detention order had been waived; and (3) there was no merit to Parents' arguments challenging the order overruling their motions to recuse. View "In re Interest of Michael N." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction this appeal brought by the State appealing the order of the separate juvenile court of Douglas County, which vacated its previous order of adjudication and set the matter for further proceedings, holding that the order was not a final order appealable by the State.The juvenile court vacated a previous adjudication order based on acceptance of a “plea of no contest” to allegations made by the State against Maximus B. in an amended petition filed pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247. The juvenile court set a date for a formal pretrial hearing, determining that “a plea of no contest” is not a permitted answer under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-279 where the petition alleges that the child is a juvenile violator under section 43-247. The State appealed, claiming that the juvenile court erred in determining that a plea of no contest is not permitted under section 43-279. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the juvenile court’s order was not a final order appealable by the State. View "In re Interest of Maximus B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the county court erred when it concluded that the appointed guardian (Guardian) of her juvenile nephew (Juvenile) had not satisfied 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(J) and therefore denied Guardian’s motion to make special factual findings that are necessary to apply for SIJ status under the statute.In denying Guardian’s request to make special findings to be used in immigration proceedings, the county court stated that Juvenile was “not dependent on this court” and that Guardian had not satisfied the dependency or custody component of section 1101(a)(27)(J). During the pendency of this appeal, the Nebraska Legislature amended Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1238(b) to clarify that courts with jurisdiction over initial child custody determinations under section 43-1238(a) also have jurisdiction and authority to make special findings of fact similar to the findings of fact contemplated by section 1101(a)(27)(J). The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that because the county court made a custody determination under section 43-1238(a), it erred when it concluded that it had not made a custody determination for purposes of section 1101(a)(27)(J)(i). View "In re Guardianship of Carlos D." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the sentences imposed in connection with Defendant’s conviction for second degree murder and first degree assault, holding that there was no merit to the arguments Defendant raised on appeal regarding his sentences.Defendant was seventeen years old at the time of the offenses. He was sentenced to sixty years’ to life imprisonment for second degree murder and to forty to fifty years’ imprisonment for first degree assault, with the sentences to run consecutively. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Defendant will be eligible for parole at age sixty-seven, Defendant did not receive a de facto life sentence; and (2) the district court did not impose excessive sentences. View "State v. Steele" on Justia Law