Schaeffer v. Gable

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Schaeffer v. Gable

Case Number
Call Date
March 28, 2023
Case Time
9:00 AM
Court Number
Case Location
Court Type
District Court
Case Summary

S-22-605 Bernard Schaeffer (Appellant) v. Craig Gable, Warden of Tecumseh Correctional Institution and Scott Frakes, Director of Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (Appellees). 

Appeal from District Court for Johnson County, Judge Travis P. O’Gorman

Attorneys:  Gerald Soucie (Soucie Law Office for Appellant) and James D. Smith (Sr. Asst. Attorney General for Appellee).

Civil:  Habeas Corpus

Proceedings below:  Appellant was sentenced to life in prison after he pled guilty to first-degree murder, but due to the decision in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed2 407 (2012), Appellant was resentenced to seventy (70) to ninety (90) years in prison.  In January 2022, Appellant filed a Verified Petition for Habeas Corpus alleging that he has completed his sentence, but the district court dismissed the matter for lack of jurisdiction.  Appellant and Appellee filed a Joint Motion to Bypass the Court of Appeals, which the Supreme Court sustained and ordered this matter transferred to its docket. 

Issues:  Appellant makes the following assignments of error:  1) The district court erred in its primary ruling that relief was procedurally barred because of the doctrine of “jurisdictional priority” when the specific statutory remedy provided under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-2801 et seq., (immediate discharge from custody) was not available until AFTER January 3, 2022. The declaratory judgment action (42 U.S.C. § 1983 & Neb. Rev. Stat. § 84-911 et seq.) was filed on March 18, 2021 and sought a prospective declaration that the two Lancaster County sentences had been completed as a matter of law and Mr. Schaeffer was only serving the Hall County sentence of 70 to 90 years with credit for 14,472 days imposed on January 3, 2017. (T55-56), and 2) The district court erred in its secondary ruling on the “merits” that all credit was to be applied “only once” in reliance on State v. Banes, 268 Neb. 805, 688 N.W.2d 594 (2004) because the only judicial authority to correct the determination of pre-sentencing “credit” is on direct appeal. A valid but “erroneous” sentence awarding too much credit cannot be modified by NDCS since the statutory changes that took effect in 1972. Neither the district nor appellate courts have jurisdiction to modify a valid, but potentially erroneous sentence once a direct appeal has been completed pursuant to State v. Barnes, 303 Neb. 167, 927 N.W.2d 64 (2019).

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