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Green v. Seiffert

Supreme Court of Nebraska

October 4, 2019

Aubrie Green, appellant,
v.
Bryce Seiffert, appellee.

         1. Judgments: Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. A jurisdictional question that does not involve a factual dispute is determined by an appellate court as a matter of law, which requires the appellate court to reach a conclusion independent of the lower court's decision.

         2. Jurisdiction: Time: Notice: Appeal and Error. Under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-1912 (Cum. Supp. 2018), to vest an appellate court with jurisdiction, a party must timely file a notice of appeal.

         3. Jurisdiction: Words and Phrases. Subject matter jurisdiction is the power of a tribunal to hear and determine a case in the general class or category to which the proceedings in question belong and to deal with the general subject matter involved.

          Appeal from the District Court for Scotts Bluff County: Leo P. Dobrovolny, Judge. Appeal dismissed.

          Adolfo Daniel Reynaga, of Legal Aid of Nebraska, for appellant.

          No appearance for appellee.

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

          Papik, J.

         After the district court dismissed Aubrie Green's petition for renewal of a domestic abuse protection order, Green filed a motion asking the court to vacate the order of dismissal. The court denied that motion, and Green filed this appeal. Green [304 Neb. 213] acknowledges that because her notice of appeal was filed more than 30 days after the initial order dismissing the petition and because her motion to vacate did not extend or suspend the statutory deadline for filing an appeal, she did not timely appeal the order dismissing her petition. Green maintains, however, that we have jurisdiction to review the order denying her motion to vacate.

         We disagree. While an order denying a motion to vacate or modify is appealable if it is based on grounds that make it independently final and appealable, Green's motion to vacate merely contended that the order she sought to vacate was erroneous. Because we do not have jurisdiction to review the denial of such a motion, we must dismiss the appeal.

         BACKGROUND

         Initial Domestic Abuse Protection Order and Request to Renew.

         On August 31, 2017, Green filed a petition and affidavit requesting a domestic abuse protection order against Bryce Seiffert, the father of her minor child. In the petition and affidavit, Green alleged that Seiffert had abused her physically. The following day, the district court entered an ex parte protection order. Seiffert later challenged the protection order, but, after a hearing, the district court ordered that the protection order should remain in effect for 1 year from the date of its original issuance.

         On August 31, 2018, when the original protection order was about to expire, Green filed a petition and affidavit to renew it pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 42-924 (Reissue 2016), which the Legislature has subsequently amended. See 2019 Neb. Laws, L.B. 532, § 3 (changes operative January 1, 2020). Green was not represented by counsel when she requested renewal, and the petition and affidavit are relatively sparse. Green stated the following as the reasons for seeking renewal of the protection order: "[Pressuring] full ...


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