871 N.W.2d 762 (Neb. 2015), S-14-953, State v. Harris

Docket NºS-14-953
Citation871 N.W.2d 762, 292 Neb. 186
Opinion JudgeWright, J.
Party NameSTATE OF NEBRASKA, APPELLEE, v. JACK E. HARRIS, APPELLANT
AttorneySarah P. Newell and James Mowbray, of Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, for appellant. Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, and Kimberly A. Klein for appellee.
Judge PanelWRIGHT, CONNOLLY, MCCORMACK, MILLER-LERMAN, CASSEL, and STACY, JJ. HEAVICAN, C.J., not participating. Heavican, C.J., not participating.
Case DateDecember 04, 2015
CourtSupreme Court of Nebraska

Page 762

871 N.W.2d 762 (Neb. 2015)

292 Neb. 186

STATE OF NEBRASKA, APPELLEE,

v.

JACK E. HARRIS, APPELLANT

No. S-14-953

Supreme Court of Nebraska

December 4, 2015

Page 763

Appeal from the District Court for Douglas County: WILLIAM B. ZASTERA, Judge.

Sarah P. Newell and James Mowbray, of Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, for appellant.

Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, and Kimberly A. Klein for appellee.

WRIGHT, CONNOLLY, MCCORMACK, MILLER-LERMAN, CASSEL, and STACY, JJ. HEAVICAN, C.J., not participating.

OPINION

Page 764

[292 Neb. 187] Wright, J.

NATURE OF CASE

Jack E. Harris appeals the order of the district court which dismissed his motion for postconviction relief without prejudice pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-3003 (Reissue 2008), because it was filed simultaneously with a motion for new trial and a motion for writ of error coram nobis. We reverse, and remand the cause to the district court for consideration of Harris' postconviction motion on its merits.

SCOPE OF REVIEW

Whether a claim raised in a postconviction proceeding is procedurally barred is a question of law. State v. Thorpe, 290 Neb. 149, 858 N.W.2d 880 (2015).

A jurisdictional question which does not involve a factual dispute is determined by an appellate court as a [292 Neb. 188] matter of law. State v. Meints, 291 Neb. 869, 869 N.W.2d 343 (2015).

When reviewing questions of law, an appellate court resolves the questions independently of the lower court's conclusion. State v. Thorpe, supra.

FACTS

Trial and Direct Appeal

Harris was convicted by a jury in 1999 of first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony in connection with the killing of Anthony Jones. He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder conviction and to a consecutive term of 10 to 20 years' imprisonment for the weapon conviction. We affirmed Harris' convictions and sentences on direct appeal in State v. Harris, 263 Neb. 331, 640 N.W.2d 24 (2002).

Page 765

First Postconviction Action

On June 3, 2002, Harris filed a pro se motion for postconviction relief and was appointed counsel. An evidentiary hearing was granted as to some, but not all, of the issues raised in Harris' motion for postconviction relief. Harris filed an interlocutory appeal, and we reversed the judgment and remanded the cause for an evidentiary hearing on two additional claims. See State v. Harris, 267 Neb. 771, 677 N.W.2d 147 (2004). Following an evidentiary hearing in November 2005, the district court denied postconviction relief and Harris timely appealed that denial to this court. In December 2006, while the appeal was still pending, Harris filed a motion to stay the appeal and remand to the district court for further proceedings on grounds of newly discovered evidence. We overruled the motion and, on July 27, 2007, affirmed the district court's denial of postconviction relief. See State v. Harris, 274 Neb. 40, 735 N.W.2d 774 (2007).

Present Postconviction Action

On January 17, 2008, Harris filed a second motion for postconviction relief, along with a motion for new trial and a [292 Neb. 189] motion for writ of error coram nobis. All three motions contained allegations regarding newly discovered evidence that Howard " Homicide" Hicks, who was the primary witness for the State, testified falsely at trial that it was Harris who shot and killed Jones when, in fact, it was Hicks who acted alone in committing the murder. In support of the motions, Harris submitted an affidavit from Terrell McClinton, an inmate to whom Hicks allegedly confessed to killing Jones. Harris also submitted an affidavit from Curtis Allgood, a witness who provided details placing Hicks near the crime scene at the time of the murder and corroborated some of the information provided by McClinton. The motions further alleged that Harris was not aware of this information until McClinton contacted Harris' postconviction counsel in August 2006 and that Harris was prevented from discovering the evidence due to the misconduct of the prosecuting attorney and the State's witness.

The district court granted an evidentiary hearing seemingly limited to the postconviction motion, stating that " [b]ecause the Court is granting [Harris'] motion for an evidentiary hearing, his motions for new trial and writ of error coram nobis will not be addressed." Before the evidentiary hearing was held, the entire Douglas County District Court bench recused itself when the prosecutor of the case was appointed to the bench. On August 27, 2009, a district court judge from Sarpy County was appointed to preside over the matter.

On December 20, 2010, Harris was permitted to file a third amended motion for postconviction relief, which added allegations of newly discovered evidence relating to Hicks' plea deal, contending that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct by misrepresenting or allowing Hicks to misrepresent the nature of the plea agreement at Harris' trial.

An evidentiary hearing on the third motion for postconviction relief was held in the district court on June 28, 2013. During the hearing, the State argued that the postconviction action must be dismissed pursuant to § 29-3003 because the [292 Neb. 190] motion for new trial and the motion for writ of error coram nobis were still pending in the district court.

On October 16, 2014, the district court agreed with the State and dismissed Harris' postconviction motion pursuant to § 29-3003, without addressing the merits of his claims. It cited the language of the statute and concluded: [Harris'] simultaneous filing of a Motion for New Trial and Writ of Error Coram

Page 766 Nobis constitutes an acknowledgment that he had other remedies available to him and that a postconviction motion was not the exclusive remedy available to him as required by Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-3003. Accordingly, this Court finds that it is not necessary to address the claims asserted by [Harris] in his postconviction motion, as it should be dismissed.

Harris timely appeals from that judgment.

ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

Harris assigns that the district court erred in dismissing his motion for postconviction relief under § 29-3003, because the remedies are mutually exclusive, not cumulative. He also assigns that the district court's judgment is not a final, appealable order, because the remedies constitute separate causes of action and the district court did...

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19 practice notes
  • 948 N.W.2d 736 (Neb. 2020), S-19-130, State v. Harris
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • September 25, 2020
    ...771, 677 N.W.2d 147 (2004) (Harris II); State v. Harris, 274 Neb. 40, 735 N.W.2d 774 (2007) (Harris III); State v. Harris, 292 Neb. 186, 871 N.W.2d 762 (2015) (Harris IV); and State v. Harris, 296 Neb. 317, 893 N.W.2d 440 (2017) (Harris In Harris IV, we reverse......
  • State v. Hill, 022621 NESC, S-20-429
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • February 26, 2021
    ...would constitute grounds for relief under another remedy shall be dismissed without prejudice." See, also, State v. Harris, 292 Neb. 186, 191, 871 N.W.2d 762, 766 (2015) ("postconviction remedy is clearly a cumulative remedy that may not be pursued concurr......
  • State v. Johnson, 020717 NECA, A-15-994
    • United States
    • Nebraska Court of Appeals of Nebraska
    • February 7, 2017
    ...matters of fact which, if known at the time the judgment was rendered, would have prevented its rendition. State v. Harris, 292 Neb. 186, 871 N.W.2d 762 (2015). The writ reaches only matters of fact unknown to the applicant at the time of judgment, not discoverable ......
  • 914 N.W.2d 440 (Neb. 2018), S-17-721, State v. Conn
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • June 29, 2018
    ...(2015). [14] State v. Lotter, 266 Neb. 245, 664 N.W.2d 892 (2003) (superseded in part by statute as stated in State v. Harris, 292 Neb. 186, 871 N.W.2d 762 (2015) [15] Id. at 254, 664 N.W.2d at 903. [16] See 28 U.S.C. § 1257(a) (under certain circumstances, "[f......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • 948 N.W.2d 736 (Neb. 2020), S-19-130, State v. Harris
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • September 25, 2020
    ...771, 677 N.W.2d 147 (2004) (Harris II); State v. Harris, 274 Neb. 40, 735 N.W.2d 774 (2007) (Harris III); State v. Harris, 292 Neb. 186, 871 N.W.2d 762 (2015) (Harris IV); and State v. Harris, 296 Neb. 317, 893 N.W.2d 440 (2017) (Harris In Harris IV, we reverse......
  • State v. Hill, 022621 NESC, S-20-429
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • February 26, 2021
    ...would constitute grounds for relief under another remedy shall be dismissed without prejudice." See, also, State v. Harris, 292 Neb. 186, 191, 871 N.W.2d 762, 766 (2015) ("postconviction remedy is clearly a cumulative remedy that may not be pursued concurr......
  • State v. Johnson, 020717 NECA, A-15-994
    • United States
    • Nebraska Court of Appeals of Nebraska
    • February 7, 2017
    ...matters of fact which, if known at the time the judgment was rendered, would have prevented its rendition. State v. Harris, 292 Neb. 186, 871 N.W.2d 762 (2015). The writ reaches only matters of fact unknown to the applicant at the time of judgment, not discoverable ......
  • 914 N.W.2d 440 (Neb. 2018), S-17-721, State v. Conn
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • June 29, 2018
    ...(2015). [14] State v. Lotter, 266 Neb. 245, 664 N.W.2d 892 (2003) (superseded in part by statute as stated in State v. Harris, 292 Neb. 186, 871 N.W.2d 762 (2015) [15] Id. at 254, 664 N.W.2d at 903. [16] See 28 U.S.C. § 1257(a) (under certain circumstances, "[f......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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