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In re Elainna R.

Supreme Court of Nebraska

December 15, 2017

In re Interest of Elainna R., a child under 18 years of age.
v.
Elainna R., appellant. State of Nebraska, appellee.

         1. Juvenile Courts: Appeal and Error. An appellate court reviews juvenile cases de novo on the record and reaches its conclusions independently of the juvenile court's findings.

         2. Ordinances: Appeal and Error. Interpretation of a municipal ordinance is a question of law, on which an appellate court reaches an independent conclusion irrespective of the determination made by the court below.

         3. Ordinances. Absent anything to the contrary, the language of a city ordinance is to be given its plain and ordinary meaning.

         4. Statutes. Statutes relating to the same subject, although enacted at different times, are in pari materia and should be construed together.

         5. Schools and School Districts: Disturbing the Peace. A school security officer or campus supervisor may be a victim of disturbing the peace.

         6. Evidence: Proof. A finder of fact may draw reasonable inferences from the facts and circumstances proved.

         Appeal from the Separate Juvenile Court of Lancaster County: Linda S. Porter, Judge. Affirmed.

          Joseph D. Nigro, Lancaster County Public Defender, and Brittani E. Lewit for appellant.

          Connor L. Reuter for appellee.

          Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch, and Funke, JJ., and Moore, Chief Judge.

         [298 Neb. 437]FUNKE, J.

         The appellant, Elainna R., was adjudicated by the separate juvenile court of Lancaster County, under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-247(1) (Reissue 2016), for violating a Lincoln city ordinance prohibiting disturbing the peace. The juvenile court found proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Elainna knowingly or intentionally disturbed the peace of Sief Mahagoub, a high school security officer, by engaging in fighting. For the reasons discussed herein, we affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         On November 17, 2016, Elainna was attending Lincoln Southeast High School. On that day, she was involved in a fight with another student, A.L., in the hallway of the school. The named victim in this case, Mahagoub, is employed at the school as a campus supervisor and security officer and had been so employed for 4 years. His duties include maintaining safety and security on the school campus.

         About 1:17 p.m., Mahagoub observed the two students yelling at each other. Elainna then angrily ran toward A.L. while Mahagoub attempted to stop the fight before it became physical.

         Mahagoub yelled, "Stop, stop, stop, " in a loud, commanding voice and positioned himself between the students. Elainna, however, struck A.L.'s head and grabbed her hair. Mahagoub tried to separate the two, but Elainna maintained her grip on A.L.'s hair. Mahagoub continued to command Elainna to stop, and the three scuffled to the ground.

         Mahagoub again yelled, "Stop" and "Let go." With the help of another adult, Mahagoub separated the students. The incident lasted between 2 and 3 minutes.

         Mahagoub testified that altercations like this are very common with students of that age, but said that this fight was disruptive to the workday. Mahagoub described the altercation as "very intense" and "very difficult" to stop. He described Elainna as the aggressor and observed her strike A.L. multiple [298 Neb. 438] times. After the altercation, Mahagoub observed hair on the floor that was consistent with A.L.'s hair.

         Mahagoub stated he acted in accordance with his training, which instructed him to do as much as possible to prevent harm. On cross-examination, Mahagoub testified that he has trained as a military police officer and served three tours in Iraq. He further stated that the school provided him 2 full days of training for his role as a security officer and that he received specific training on how to deal with upset and aggressive students. He stated his job duties include breaking up fights between students.

         According to Mahagoub, he has dealt with many fights during his time as campus supervisor, including students who were verbally and physically aggressive toward him. He also testified that he works with police officers in dealing with difficult students and occasionally assists law enforcement officers with investigations of criminal activity within the school.

         An associate principal at Lincoln Southeast High School testified he witnessed the later portion of the fight after it had progressed to the floor. He observed Elainna holding the other student's hair and Mahagoub's attempts to separate them. He testified that the altercation was disruptive to the schoolday.

         The juvenile petition alleged that "on or about the 17th day of November 2016, [Elainna] did knowingly or intentionally disturb the peace and quiet of . . . Mahagoub, by fighting, in violation of L.M.C. § 9.20.050." Elainna entered a denial, and the matter proceeded to adjudication.

         At the conclusion of the adjudication, the court found the State had proved the allegations in the petition beyond a reasonable doubt. The juvenile court continued final disposition of the case pending the completion of a predisposition report. Elainna perfected an appeal to this court.

         ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

         Elainna assigns, restated, the following errors: (1) The juvenile court erred in determining that Mahagoub's peace was disturbed as a school security officer or campus supervisor, [298 Neb. 439] and (2) the evidence was insufficient ...


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