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nebraska supreme court

Grand Island Independent

Nebraska voters won’t get the chance to legalize medical marijuana this year after the state Supreme Court ruled that the measure set to appear on the November ballot is unconstitutional. The court’s ruling was a win for social conservatives, including Gov. Pete Ricketts, who argued that the state shouldn’t legalize a drug that isn’t approved by federal regulators. Justices concluded that the medical marijuana proposal violated Nebraska’s “single subject rule” for ballot measures, which bars activists from bunching multiple issues into a single yes-or-no question for voters to address.

Nebraska’s top elections official says he won’t put three measures to legalize casino gambling on the November ballot, arguing that the language they used was misleading and confusing. The decision announced Tuesday by Republican Secretary of State Bob Evnen means voters won’t get to decide the issue this year unless a court overturns his decision. Supporters of the ballot measures filed an immediate legal challenge, and the dispute is likely headed to the Nebraska Supreme Court.

The Nebraska Supreme Court has rejected a petition to grant all 2020 law graduates a license to practice without taking the bar exam. The Omaha World-Herald reports that petition, filed Friday, sought the change in light of the risk posed by law school graduates congregating in one place to take the bar exam. On Saturday, the state's high court ruled against the move, saying "the administration of justice does not stop in a public health emergency.” The Nebraska bar exam, which is usually offered two times a year, will proceed as scheduled on July 28 and 29.

Federal courts in Nebraska are nixing all jury trials and grand juries for the rest of the month in a move to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, state courts in Iowa and Nebraska are taking some precautions. An order from Nebraska's Supreme Court chief justice says those at elevated risk of transmitting COVID-19 are barred from attending trials. In Iowa, state courts may conduct meetings and hearings remotely. For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.

Nebraska's chief justice says the state's courts are expanding their public services to protect abused children, keep former prisoners from re-offending and help some counties save money. Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican outlined the accomplishments of the state's judicial branch in his annual State of the Judiciary address to lawmakers. Heavican says the courts are working to reunite more foster children with parents, help offenders with drug and alcohol addictions, and save money by having clerks serve both district and county courts.