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State v. Hatfield

Supreme Court of Nebraska

September 13, 2019

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

         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. Pretrial Procedure: Appeal and Error. Trial courts have broad discretion with respect to sanctions involving discovery procedures, and their rulings thereon will not be reversed in the absence of an abuse of discretion.

         5. Criminal Law: Pretrial Procedure. Discovery in a criminal case is generally controlled by either a statute or court rule.

          Appeal from the District Court for Gage County: Julie D. Smith, Judge.

          Steven J. Mercure, of Nestor & Mercure, for appellant.

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

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

         [304 Neb. 67] HEAVICAN, C.J.

         INTRODUCTION

         Steven J. Hatfield was convicted of misdemeanor driving under the influence (DUI). His conviction and sentence were affirmed by the district court, sitting as an intermediate court of appeals. He appeals. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         Hatfield was convicted in the county court for Gage County of DUI and appealed that conviction to the district court for Gage County. The district court reversed the county court's judgment based not on the arguments made by Hatfield, but instead upon the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota.[1] This court reviewed that decision and concluded that the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule applied to a pre-Birchfield warrantless blood draw and that the results of Hatfield's blood test were therefore admissible.[2] As such, we found that the district court, sitting as an appellate court, erred in reversing Hatfield's conviction and vacating his sentence. We remanded the cause for the district court to consider Hatfield's original errors.

         Upon remand, the district court considered Hatfield's assignment of error alleging that the county court erred in failing to exclude evidence that was offered by the State in violation of both the court's June 29, 2015, order of discovery and Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-1912 (Reissue 2016).

         The facts relating to this discovery dispute are as follows: The county court entered an order of discovery on June 29, 2015. That order was in response to an oral motion made at a pretrial hearing. The State had already filed a notice on February 3, 2015, indicating that it had complied with discovery consisting of 51 pages of documents and that other ...


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