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State v. Hatfield

Supreme Court of Nebraska

June 8, 2018

State of Nebraska, appellant,
v.
Steven J. Hatfield, appellee.

         1. Criminal Law: Courts: Appeal and Error. In an appeal of a criminal case from the county court, the district court acts as an intermediate court of appeals, and its review is limited to an examination of the record for error or abuse of discretion.

         2. Courts: Appeal and Error. Both the district court and a higher appellate court generally review appeals from the county court for error appearing on the record.

         3. Judgments: Appeal and Error. When reviewing a judgment for errors appearing on the record, an appellate court's inquiry is whether the decision conforms to the law, is supported by competent evidence, and is neither arbitrary, capricious, nor unreasonable.

         4. Search and Seizure. Application of the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule is a question of law.

         5. Judgments: Appeal and Error. On a question of law, an appellate court reaches a conclusion independent of the court below.

         6. Criminal Law: Statutes: Appeal and Error. Absent specific statutory authorization, the State generally has no right to appeal an adverse ruling in a criminal case.

         7. Constitutional Law: Search and Seizure: Evidence. The exclusionary rule is a judicially created remedy that generally prohibits the use of evidence obtained in violation of a defendant's Fourth Amendment rights.

         8. Search and Seizure: Police Officers and Sheriffs: Intent. The purpose of the exclusionary rule is to deter police misconduct.

         9. Courts: Search and Seizure. Because the exclusionary rule should not be applied to objectively reasonable law enforcement activity, the U.S. Supreme Court created a good faith exception to the rule.

         10. Constitutional Law: Courts: Search and Seizure: Police Officers and Sheriffs: Evidence. A court may decline to apply the exclusionary [300 Neb. 153]rule when evidence is obtained pursuant to an officer's objectively reasonable reliance on a law that is not clearly unconstitutional at the time.

         11. Courts: Judgments: Appeal and Error. Where an exception proceeding is brought from the district court sitting as an appellate court, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-2316 (Reissue 2016) does not limit the relief the higher appellate court can order, because the defendant was not placed legally in jeopardy in the district court.

          Appeal from the District Court for Gage County, Paul W. Korslund, Judge, Retired, on appeal thereto from the County Court for Gage County, Steven B. Timm, Judge. Exception sustained, and cause remanded for further proceedings.

          Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, and Nathan A. Liss for appellant.

          Steven J. Mercure, of Nestor & Mercure, and Lindy L. Mahoney, Senior Certified Law Student, for appellee.

          Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, and Funke, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         INTRODUCTION

         On intermediate appeal from county court, the district court vacated Steven J. Hatfield's conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) and granted him a new trial after determining that his warrantless blood draw was unlawful and inadmissible in light of Birchfield v. North Dakota[1] Because we determine that the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies, we sustain the State's exception. And because we are not prevented from affecting the district court's ...


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