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State v. Brown

Supreme Court of Nebraska

May 25, 2018

State of Nebraska, Appellee,
v.
Darwin E. Brown, Appellant.

         1. Statutes: Judgments: Appeal and Error. The meaning of a statute is a question of law, on which an appellate court has an obligation to reach an independent conclusion irrespective of the decision made by the court below.

         2. Sentences: Appeal and Error. A sentence imposed within statutory limits will not be disturbed on appeal absent an abuse of discretion by the trial court.

         3.__:__. An abuse of discretion in imposing a sentence occurs when a sentencing court's reasons or rulings are clearly untenable and unfairly deprive the litigant of a substantial right and a just result.

         4. Sentences. The appropriateness of a sentence is necessarily a subjective judgment and includes the sentencing judge's observation of the defendant's demeanor and attitude and all the facts and circumstances surrounding the defendant's life.

         5. __. In determining a sentence to be imposed, relevant factors customarily considered and applied are the defendant's (1) age, (2) mentality, (3) education and experience, (4) social and cultural background, (5) past criminal record or record of law-abiding conduct, and (6) motivation for the offense, as well as (7) the nature of the offense and (8) the amount of violence involved in the commission of the crime.

          Appeals from the District Court for Lancaster County: Lori A. Maret, Judge. Affirmed.

          Joe Nigro, Lancaster County Public Defender, Bradley A. Sipp, and, on brief, Jennifer M. Houlden for appellant.

          Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, and Joe Meyer for appellee.

         [300 Neb. 58] HEAVICAN, C.J., MILLER-LERMAN, CASSEL, STACY, AND FUNKE, JJ., AND HARDER AND NOAKES, DISTRICT JUDGES.

          MILLER-LERMAN, J.

         NATURE OF CASE

         Cases Nos. S-17-442 through S-17-444 have been consolidated before us on appeal. In each of these three appeals, Darwin E. Brown appeals his conviction and sentence in the district court for Lancaster County for driving under the influence. With regard to each conviction, Brown was found to have had two prior convictions as defined by Neb. Rev. Stat. § 60-6, 197.02(1)(a) (Cum. Supp. 2016). Brown claims, inter alia, that a prior conviction in Missouri should not have been used for purposes of enhancing his sentences for these convictions. Because we conclude that the Missouri conviction was valid for use as a prior conviction in each of these cases, we affirm Brown's convictions and sentences.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS

         In each of these three cases, the State filed an information against Brown in the district court for Lancaster County alleging that he committed the crime of driving under the influence (hereinafter DUI) in violation of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 60-6, 196 (Reissue 2010). The dates of the charged offenses were July 19, 2015, and January 16 and May 6, 2016. The State also alleged in each information that at the time of the offense, Brown had a breath alcohol concentration of .15 grams or above of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. The State further alleged in each information that at the time of the offense, Brown had two prior convictions as ...


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