Postconviction: Constitutional Law: Appeal and
Error. In appeals from postconviction proceedings,
an appellate court reviews de novo a determination that the
defendant failed to allege sufficient facts to demonstrate a
violation of his or her constitutional rights or that the
record and files affirmatively show that the defendant is
entitled to no relief.
Postconviction: Evidence. No evidentiary
hearing is necessary when a postconviction motion and the
files and records of the case show to the satisfaction of the
court that the prisoner is entitled to no relief.
Appeal and Error. An appellate court
considers only those arguments that were both adequately
assigned and argued in the appellant's brief.
Postconviction: Pleadings: Time. The
Nebraska Postconviction Act contains a 1-year time limit for
filing a verified motion for postconviction relief, which
runs from one of four triggering events or August 27, 2011,
whichever is later.
Postconviction: Limitations of Actions:
Proof. To satisfy the tolling provision of Neb. Rev.
Stat. § 29-3001(4)(c) (Reissue 2016), a prisoner must
show there was (1) an impediment created by state action, (2)
which amounted to a violation of the federal or state
Constitution or a state law, and (3) as a result, the
prisoner was prevented from filing a verified motion. If all
these factors are satisfied, the 1-year limitation period
will begin to run on the date the impediment was removed.
from the District Court for Douglas County: J Russell Derr,
Munnelly and Gerald L. Soucie for appellant.
Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, and Stacy M. Foust for
Neb. 580] Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy,
Funke, and Papik, JJ.
jurisdiction again vested in the district court following an
appeal from the denial of Christopher A. Edwards' first
motion for postconviction relief, he filed a second motion
seeking postconviction relief. Prompted by the State, the
district court denied the second motion without an
evidentiary hearing. Because we agree that Edwards'
second motion is barred by the limitation period set forth in
Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-3001(4) (Reissue 2016), we affirm
the decision of the district court.
Trial, and Direct Appeal In June 2006, the State charged
Edwards with second degree murder and use of a deadly weapon
to commit a felony in connection with the disappearance of
Jessica O'Grady. Spattered blood was found on
Edwards' nightstand, headboard, clock radio, and ceiling
above his bed. The underside of Edwards' mattress
contained a large, damp bloodstain. Investigators discovered
blood on a short sword in Edwards' closet, on the trunk
gasket of Edwards' car, and on the underside of the
car's trunk lid. DNA profiles from this blood were
consistent with O'Grady's profile. A jury convicted
Edwards of both charges. Steven J. Lefler and two other
attorneys represented Edwards at trial. Through the same
counsel, Edwards appealed. We affirmed Edwards'
convictions on direct appeal. Our mandate issued in July 2009.
Motion for Postconviction Relief In July 2010, through new
counsel, Edwards filed a motion for postconviction relief. He
claimed that the State violated [301 Neb. 581] his due
process rights by presenting fabricated evidence. More
specifically, Edwards alleged that David Kofoed, a supervisor
of the Douglas County Crime Scene Investigation Division,
planted blood evidence to be used against Edwards.
also alleged claims of ineffective assistance of trial and
appellate counsel. One of his claims was that Lefler should
have known that Kofoed was suspected of planting evidence
during the murder investigation and that Lefler failed to
investigate this information or to effectively impeach Kofoed
at trial. Edwards claimed that Lefler had a potential
conflict of interest because of his friendship with Kofoed.
And Edwards alleged that his appellate counsel was
ineffective in failing to raise claims of trial counsel's
October 2010, the State moved to quash Edwards' subpoenas
directed to the Douglas County sheriff's office and the
University of Nebraska Medical Center. The motion stated,
"There has been no indication that [Edwards] alleges
that the State withheld information or evidence that would
entitle him the opportunity to seek out discovery in this
matter." The court granted the motion.
December 2010, Edwards moved for leave to file an amended
motion for postconviction relief. The amended motion
contained several additional exhibits, which were documents
from the Douglas County Crime Scene Investigation Division
pertaining to the criminal investigation of Edwards. Although
it is not in our record, the parties agree that this motion
August 2, 2011, the district court overruled Edwards'
first motion for postconviction relief without an evidentiary
hearing. Edwards appealed.
September 2012, we determined that two of Edwards' claims
required an evidentiary hearing. First, we recounted
Kofoed's unlawful conduct during two other murder
investigations and concluded that an evidentiary hearing was
needed [301 Neb. 582] on Edwards' claim that the State
presented fabricated forensic evidence at trial.
we concluded that an evidentiary hearing was necessary on
Edwards' claim that his trial counsel had a conflict of
interest because of his relationship with Kofoed. We stated:
We cannot know from this record whether before Edwards'
trial, Kofoed had asked Lefler to represent him if he was
later charged with a crime. Given allegations of their
friendship and Lefler's undisputed representation of
Kofoed against fabrication charges in 2009, Kofoed's
possible request of representation is a prospect that the
court should have considered. In addition, we cannot know
from this record whether before Edwards' trial, law
enforcement officers conducted an internal investigation of
Kofoed's conduct in which Lefler had already represented
or advised Kofoed. Finally, because of their friendship,
Lefler may have learned of the allegations against Kofoed
even without agreeing to represent him.
determined that an evidentiary hearing was necessary to
discover whether Lefler knew of the allegations against
Kofoed before Edwards' trial or whether a conflict of
interest prevented him from cross-examining Kofoed about any
pending investigation. We thus remanded the cause to the
district court for an evidentiary hearing.
Following Remand on First Motion
3, 2013, after the remand but prior to the evidentiary
hearing, Edwards filed a motion for leave to file a second
amended motion for postconviction relief. The proposed
amended motion set forth five claims: (1) Edwards' due
process rights were violated because his convictions were
based on fabricated evidence, (2) his due process rights were
violated because the State failed to disclose material
exculpatory [301 Neb. 583] evidence, (3) his attorney failed
to provide conflict-free representation, (4) the step
instruction on the lesser-included offense of manslaughter
failed to distinguish between the intent to kill associated
with second degree murder and the intent to kill resulting
from a "sudden quarrel," and (5) cumulative error
deprived him of his right to substantive due process under
the 14th Amendment. In June, Edwards filed a supplemental
showing regarding this motion.
district court overruled Edwards' motion for leave to
file an amended motion and the supplemental showing to the
extent that they sought to expand the scope of our mandate.
The court stated that our mandate specifically set out the
scope of the remand and that the court was limited to those
March and April 2014, the district court conducted an
evidentiary hearing on the two issues from the first motion
for postconviction relief. The court heard evidence regarding
whether the State knowingly used fabricated evidence and
whether Lefler operated under a conflict of interest. With
regard to the examination of Lefler, the court stated that
the relevant timeframe was what Lefler knew from the time of
voir dire to the conclusion of Edwards' trial. But the
court also stated that it would "allow some leeway here
to make a record." Ultimately, the court rejected
Edwards' claims for postconviction relief.
appeal, Edwards assigned that the district court erred in
refusing to grant leave to amend his original postconviction
motion, failing to find that his counsel had an actual
conflict of interest, and failing to find that the State
knowingly used fabricated evidence.
July 1, 2016, opinion, we rejected Edwards'
claims.We determined that Edwards' assignment
of error concerning the denial of his motion to amend his