Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. A
jurisdictional question which does not involve a factual
dispute is determined by an appellate court as a matter of
Administrative Law: Judgments: Appeal and
Error. A judgment or final order rendered by a
district court in a judicial review pursuant to the
Administrative Procedure Act may be reversed, vacated, or
modified by an appellate court for errors appearing on the
record. When reviewing an order of a district court under the
Administrative Procedure Act for errors appearing on the
record, the inquiry is whether the decision conforms to the
law, is supported by competent evidence, and is neither
arbitrary, capricious, nor unreasonable.
Natural Resources Districts: Political Subdivisions:
Legislature. A natural resources district, as a
political subdivision, has only that power delegated to it by
the Legislature, and a grant of power to a political
subdivision is strictly construed.
Natural Resources Districts. A natural
resources district possesses and can exercise the following
powers and no others: first, those granted in express words;
second, those necessarily or fairly implied in or incident to
the powers expressly granted; and third, those essential to
the declared objects and purposes of the district-not simply
convenient, but indispensable.
Administrative Law. When a board or tribunal
is required to conduct a hearing and receive evidence, it
exercises judicial functions in determining questions of
Neb. 2] 6. Administrative Law: Waters: Natural
Resources Districts: Appeal and Error. Any person
aggrieved by an order of a natural resources district issued
pursuant to the Nebraska Ground Water Management and
Protection Act may appeal the order, and the appeal shall be
in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act.
Administrative Law: Final Orders: Courts: Appeal and
Error. In reviewing final administrative orders
under the Administrative Procedure Act, the district court
functions not as a trial court but as an intermediate court
Administrative Law: Appeal and Error. In a
review de novo on the record, the district court is not
limited to a review subject to the narrow criteria found in
Neb. Rev. Stat. § 84-917(6)(a) (Reissue 2014), but is
required to make independent factual determinations based
upon the record, and the court reaches its own independent
conclusions with respect to the matters at issue.
Administrative Law: Evidence: Judicial Notice: Appeal
and Error. The Administrative Procedure Act does not
authorize a district court reviewing the decision of an
administrative agency to receive additional evidence, whether
by judicial notice or other means.
Appeal and Error: Words and Phrases. Plain
error is error uncomplained of at trial, plainly evident from
the record, and of such a nature that to leave it uncorrected
would result in damage to the integrity, reputation, or
fairness of the judicial process.
Appeal and Error. An appellate court is not
obligated to engage in an analysis that is not necessary to
adjudicate the case and controversy before it.
from the District Court for Frontier County: David Urbom,
Judge. Reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
Schroeder, of Schroeder & Schroeder, P.C., for appellant.
Stephen D. Mossman, of Mattson Ricketts Law Firm, for
G. Blankenau, of Blankenau, Wilmoth & Jarecke. L.L.R, for
amicus curiae Nebraska Groundwater Coalition.
Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch,
and Funke, JJ.
Neb. 3] Cassel, J.
Middle Republican Natural Resources District (MRNRD) denied a
landowner's request for a variance to drill a new well.
Upon the landowner's appeal, the district court reversed
MRNRD's decision. Because the district court committed
plain error by applying the wrong standard of review, we
reverse, and remand for reconsideration under the proper
Creek LLC, a Nebraska limited liability company, filed a
request for a variance from MRNRD's moratorium on new
well drilling. MRNRD denied the variance but stated that
Medicine Creek "may request a [sic] adjudicatory hearing
to appeal this decision." Medicine Creek did so, and a
hearing officer presided over a hearing during which three
individuals testified and numerous exhibits were received.
Following the presentation of evidence, MRNRD's Board of
Directors (Board) voted to deny the variance.
Creek filed a complaint with the district court for Frontier
County. It sought judicial review pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat.
§ 46-750 (Reissue 2010) and the Administrative Procedure
Act (APA). Medicine Creek alleged that the Board improperly
denied its variance request based on a rule applicable to
transfers. Medicine Creek also requested declaratory and
injunctive relief based on its allegation that two of
MRNRD's rules violated its equal protection and due
district court conducted a bench trial, during which it
received the record from MRNRD's hearing. It also
received 100 additional exhibits and heard testimony from the
three individuals who testified before the Board. The court
determined that MRNRD's rules and regulations as applied
to Medicine Creek's request did not violate Medicine
Creek's equal protection and due process rights. It found
that [296 Neb. 4] MRNRD's decision "was not
supported by the evidence, does not conform to the law and
was therefore arbitrary." The court reversed the
decision denying the variance and directed MRNRD to grant the
filed a timely appeal, and Medicine Creek filed a
cross-appeal. We ...