Joel D. Woodward, appellant,
Rhonda K. Lahm, director, Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles, appellee.
Jurisdiction: Judgments: Appeal and Error.
Determination of a jurisdictional issue which does not
involve a factual dispute is a matter of law which requires
an appellate court to reach its conclusions independent from
a trial court.
Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory
interpretation is a question of law that an appellate court
resolves independently of the trial court.
Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. Before
reaching the legal issues presented for review, it is the
duty of an appellate court to determine whether it has
jurisdiction over the matter before it.
___. When a lower court does not have jurisdiction over the
case before it, an appellate court also lacks jurisdiction to
review the merits of the claim.
from the District Court for Buffalo County: John P. Icenogle,
Judge. Appeal dismissed.
W. Jorgensen, of Nye, Hervert, Jorgensen & Watson. PC,
Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, and Milissa D.
Johnson-Wiles for appellee.
Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch,
and Funke, JJ. [295 Neb. 699]
Woodward asked the director of the Nebraska Department of
Motor Vehicles (DMV) to reinstate his commercial driver's
license (CDL). The director refused, and Woodward filed an
appeal pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 60-4, 105 (Reissue
2010). The district court dismissed the appeal on several
grounds, including that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction
because the appeal was not from a "final decision or
order." We agree with the district court and
dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
2010, Woodward was convicted of driving under the influence
(DUI) and sentenced to probation. He was convicted of DUI a
second time in 2013, and again was sentenced to probation.
Woodward's second DUI, the DMV issued an order revoking
his CDL for life. The lifetime revocation was imposed
pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 60-4, 168(3)(a)
(Cum. Supp. 2012) and 60-4, 169 (Reissue 2010). Section 60-4,
169 requires the director to "summarily revoke . . . the
[CDL] and privilege ... to operate a commercial motor
vehicle" whenever it comes to the director's
attention that the person has "committed an offense for
which disqualification is required." Section 60-4,
168(3) provides: "A person shall be disqualified from
driving a commercial motor vehicle for life if ... he or she:
(a) Is convicted of ... a second or subsequent violation of
any of the offenses described in subsection (1) . . . ."
DUI is among the offenses listed in subsection (1). One may
appeal from a lifetime revocation,  but Woodward did not do so.
Woodward completed both terms of probation, he filed motions
asking the sentencing court to set aside both DUI [295 Neb.
700] convictions pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-2264
(Reissue 2016). Section 29-2264 allows a sentencing court to
set aside a conviction if it finds doing so is in the best
interest of the offender and consistent with the public
welfare. Section 29-2264(4) provides that an order setting
aside a conviction shall: "(a) Nullify the conviction;
and (b) Remove all civil disabilities and disqualifications
imposed as a result of the conviction." The sentencing
court set aside both DUI convictions in separate orders
entered January 8, 2015.
March 30, 2015, Woodward's attorney wrote a letter to the
director of the DMV, advising that Woodward's DUI
convictions had been set aside and asking either that his CDL
be "reinstated" or that he be deemed eligible to
reapply for a CDL. Woodward explained the basis for his
request as follows:
Woodward's position is that if a conviction is set aside
and nullified and that all civil disabilities and
disqualifications resulting from the conviction are removed,
that conviction cannot be counted for purposes of a life time
disqualification [under § 60-4, 168]. The Director's
action in entering the life time disqualification of . . .
Woodward's CDL is of course a civil action. Thus, at this
time, [Woodward] has only a single [administrative]
adjudication which will affect his [CDL] ...