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Nebraska’s Distinguished Judges

Judges of the Nebraska Court of Appeals, both past and present, on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Court.

In 1990, the Nebraska Legislature proposed a constitutional amendment to create an intermediate Court of Appeals. In November 1990, the voters of the State of Nebraska approved the amendment, and the Court of Appeals was established on September 6, 1991.

There have been 12 Court of Appeals judges in the 20-year history of the court. The original judges (shown in photo) include John F. Wright, William M. Connolly, and Lindsey Miller-Lerman who have since moved to the Nebraska Supreme Court; John F. Irwin and Richard D. Sievers, who remain on the Court; and Judge Edward E. Hannon, who retired from the bench.

Judges later added to the Court of Appeals roster include: Wesley C. Mues and Theodore L. Carlson, each of whom died during his term as judge; and William B. Cassel, Everett O. Inbody, Frankie J. Moore, and Michael W. Pirtle who currently serve on the Court of Appeals.

Press Release Link for the Court of Appeals' Distinguished Service Award

 

Hon. Susan Bazis, Douglas County Court, 4th Judicial District

Hon. Susan Bazis, Douglas County Court, 4th Judicial District, for her leadership in Nebraska’s recent comprehensive review of the statutes, court rules and procedures involved in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings across the state.

In the summer of 2010, Judge Susan Bazis along with Judges Todd Hutton and Curtis Evans were called upon by the Chief Justice to study concerns with Guardian/Conservator issues. Judge Bazis excelled at the challenge and succeeded in not only undertaking an accounting of the existing processes, but also lead a committee of judges, senators and attorneys in developing new procedures that would serve to bolster the integrity of the justice system and protect the interests of vulnerable citizens within Nebraska communities.

Judge Susan Bazis is also commended for her recent active participation in the design, development and implementation of the JUSTICE virtual Sign Desk where she helped develop a computer application that automated six of the county court’s high volume civil processes. The automations resulted in the development of standard statewide forms and created an enormous time savings for both judges and court staff.


Press Release Link for Judge Bazis’ Distinguished Service Award

Hon. Everett O. Inbody, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals

Hon. Everett O. Inbody, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, honored for his distinguished service on all levels of the judiciary within Nebraska and for his work with children throughout the State. 2010 marks Judge Inbody’s 24th year of service on the bench; 5 years in the county/juvenile court, 5 years on the district court bench and the remainder with the Court of Appeals. Inbody is presently serving as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, a position he has held since 2004.

In 2005, Judge Inbody was appointed co-chairman of the Commission of Children in the Courts where he utilized his experience in juvenile and criminal court to study appropriate steps for the judicial system to insure the court system’s responsiveness to children. As a result of his commission work, Judge Inbody implemented the Court of Appeals' "rocket docket" for abuse/neglect cases to move cases of children through the system at a more rapid pace.

Press Release Link for Judge Inbody’s Distinguished Service Award

Hon. James E. Doyle, IV , Dawson County District Judge, 11th Judicial District

Hon. James E. Doyle, IV, Dawson County District Judge, 11th Judicial District, recognized as current Chairperson of the Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Problem-Solving Courts where he provides direction and structure to a statewide committee of judges, lawyers and individuals involved with drug and other problem-solving courts, which he has led since February 2008. Judge Doyle balances his drug court committee work with his service on the Case Management Committee for Nebraska Trial Courts and the Nebraska Supreme Court Automation Advisory Committee.

Through his efforts, Judge Doyle has garnered strong support of the drug court system within his judicial district. His local drug court continues to expand and demonstrate its good work.

Press Release Link for Judge Doyle’s Distinguished Service Award

Hon. Michael Offner, Adams County Court Judge, 10th Judicial District

Hon. Michael Offner, Adams County Court Judge, 10th Judicial District, honored for his commitment to Nebraska’s smaller communities, insuring that their citizens receive the same quality service as those in larger metro areas. Judge Offner is cited as the driving force behind the 10th Judicial District’s jump in technology use including Skype video and audio and the use of the WIKI calendar. Additionally, Judge Offner is the first county court judge to have established National Adoption Day in his region in 2005. Now, the Hastings community has not only committed to an annual celebration for the full district but has committed a portion of their donations to other courts wanting to start a celebration.

Press Release Link for Judge Offner’s Distinguished Service Award

Hon. Robert C. Wester, Sarpy County Court Judge, 2nd Judicial District

Hon. Robert C. Wester, Sarpy County Court Judge, 2nd Judicial District, nominated for his long-term, ongoing service to the Stephen Center; a shelter for the homeless, along with a newer separate residential chemical dependency facility in Omaha. The Center opened in 1984 and for most, if not all, of that time Judge Wester is credited as being a critical component of the Center’s success. In the words of Stephen Center staff, “The Stephen Center is a much more beautiful and richer place because of the countless hours of personal volunteer service Judge Wester so selflessly dedicates to its needs. The health, hope and promise for those unhealthy, despairing, and doubting homeless are lifted by the efforts of Judge Bob Wester.”

Press Release Link for Judge Wester’s Distinguished Service Award

Hon. Patrick G. Rogers, Madison County District Judge (now retired), 7th Judicial District

Hon. Patrick G. Rogers, Madison County District Judge (now retired), 7th Judicial District, nominated for his willingness to assist throughout the state’s judicial system anytime or anywhere. He was also cited for establishing a drug court, promoting access to the court system by non-English speaking litigants and teaching at judicial seminars.

Press Release Link for Judge Rogers' Distinguished Service Award

Hon. Paul W. Korslund, Gage County District Judge, 1st Judicial District

Hon. Paul W. Korslund, Gage County District Judge, 1st Judicial District, recognized as the first trial court judge in the state to preside over a televised jury and for partnering with his educational service unit to provide law day programming to high school classrooms in Beatrice via his courtroom Web cam.

Press Release Link for Judge Korslund’s Distinguished Service Award

Hon. Curtis L. Maschman, Richardson County Judge, 1st Judicial District

Hon. Curtis L. Maschman, Richardson County Judge, 1st Judicial District, and Hon. Patrick R. McDermott, Colfax County Judge, 5th Judicial District, jointly recognized for their innovation and assistance in developing several portions of the computer system used in Nebraska’s trial courts.

Press Release Link for Judge McDermott and Maschman Distinguished Service Award

 

Hon. Patrick R. McDermott, Colfax County Judge, 5th Judicial District


 

Hon. Todd Hutton, Sarpy County Judge, 2nd Judicial District

Hon. Todd Hutton, Sarpy County Judge, 2nd Judicial District, for his determination in the establishment of the Nebraska State Bar Foundation’s PEOPLE (Public Education Outreach Promoting Law & Equity) committee and his leadership of its Media Subcommittee.

Press Release Link for Judge Hutton's Distinguished Service Award


 

Hon. John M. Gerrard, Supreme Court Justice, 3rd Appellate Court District (now a U.S. District Judge)

Hon. John M. Gerrard, Supreme Court Justice, 3rd Appellate Court District (now a U.S. District Judge), nominated for his unfaltering commitment to court reforms designed to better serve Nebraska’s minority and immigrant communities. In both his role as chair of the Minority Justice Implementation Committee and chair of the Interpreter Advisory Council, he has led numerous initiatives promoting racial and ethnic fairness in the courts and diversity in the legal profession.

 

Hon. Lawrence D. Gendler, Sarpy County Separate Juvenile Court Judge

Hon. Lawrence D. Gendler, Sarpy County Separate Juvenile Court Judge, honored for his extensive community involvement and leadership ability. His volunteer work spans from safety councils to detention programming to safe communities; also his recent acceptance of chairmanship of the Nebraska Supreme Court’s “Through the Eyes of the Child” Initiative, benefiting children across the state.

 

Hon. Bernard J. McGinn, Lancaster County District Judge (now retired), 3rd Judicial District

Hon. Bernard J. McGinn, Lancaster County District Judge (now retired), 3rd Judicial District, nominated for the exemplary judicial temperament, patience, tact, and understanding that repeatedly won him the Nebraska Bar poll’s highest ratings; also serving as a mentor, advisor and friend to all Nebraska’s judges.

Hon. Richard D. Sievers, Court of Appeals, 1st Appellate Court District

Hon. Richard D. Sievers, Court of Appeals, 1st Appellate Court District, and Hon. Teresa K. Luther, District Judge Hall County, 9th Judicial District, jointly awarded for their establishment and implementation of the Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Pro Se Litigation.

 

Hon. Teresa K. Luther, District Judge, Hall County, 9th Judicial District
Hon. Steven B. Timm, Gage County Judge, 1st Judicial District

Hon. Steven B. Timm, Gage County Judge, 1st Judicial District, for his willingness to volunteer his time to educate young lawyers, monitor legislation, and help new judges across the state. His service as the “go-to” player for the Nebraska County Judges Association has served the judicial community well.
 

Hon. Linda S. Porter, Lancaster County Separate Juvenile Court Judge

Hon. Linda S. Porter, Lancaster County Separate Juvenile Court Judge, for her promotion of and teaching for the innovative Teen Parents and the Law program, her deep commitment to protecting children, and helping families.

Hon. John P. Icenogle, Buffalo County District Judge, 9th Judicial District

Hon. John P. Icenogle, Buffalo County District Judge, 9th Judicial District, for his excellent communication skills, ability to set a ‘roadmap’ for change while remaining respectful, and clear vision for seeking the best outcome for children.

Hon. Wadie Thomas, Douglas County Separate Juvenile Court Judge

Hon. Wadie Thomas, Douglas County Separate Juvenile Court Judge, for his establishment and promotion of Omaha’s National Adoption Day, his visibility on speaking out against domestic violence, and promoting alternatives to incarceration for juveniles.

Hon. Karen B. Flowers, Lancaster County District Judge, 3rd Judicial District

Hon. Karen B. Flowers, Lancaster County District Judge, 3rd Judicial District, for her leadership and supervision of the first drug court in Lancaster County. Other endeavors include teaching the Domestic Relations section of new judge orientation and other educational participation. She also served as president of the Lincoln chapter of the American Inns of Court, past president of the Lincoln Bar Association, and past chair of the Nebraska Bar Association’s House of Delegates.

Hon. William B. Cassel, Brown County District Judge, 8th Judicial District (now Judge of the Supreme Court)

Hon. William B. Cassel, Brown County District Judge, 8th Judicial District (Judge of the Supreme Court, eff. 2012) and; Hon. Robert R. Steinke, Platte County District Judge, 5th Judicial District, recognized jointly for their commitment as regional coordinators for the Nebraska High School Mock Trial Project for many years. Additionally, Judge Cassel set up a Web site for the 8th Judicial District and provides a spreadsheet program via the Internet for use by judges and lawyers in calculating child support payments.

Hon. Robert R. Steinke, Platte County District Judge, 5th Judicial District
Hon. Alan L. Brodbeck, Holt County Judge, 8th Judicial District

Hon. Alan L. Brodbeck, Holt County Judge, 8th Judicial District, recognized for his long service as chairman of the county judges’ education committee and other education efforts. He also developed a Web site for the Nebraska County Judges Association in 1998. The site is divided into two parts; a public portion that seeks to educate citizens about the workings of the court and a private side dedicated to information for fellow judges.

Hon. Douglas F. Johnson, Douglas County Separate Juvenile Court Judge

Hon. Douglas F. Johnson, Douglas County Separate Juvenile Court Judge, for maintaining a rigorous schedule as a volunteer and leader within his community. As a judge, his efforts include serving on the Board of Trustees of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and is involved in the Permanency Planning for Children Project; speaker for the Foster Care Review Board and The Troubled Children and Youth Conferences; played a major role in starting the CASA program in Douglas County; and for starting a series of free “brown bag” educational lectures at the Douglas County Juvenile Court.

Hon. F. A. Gossett, Dodge County District Judge (now a Federal Magistrate)

Hon. F. A. Gossett, Dodge County District Judge (now a Federal Magistrate), 6th Judicial District, thanked for his outline on handling evidence originally written in 1981. The outline eventually grew into the Nebraska Evidence Handbook and is published by Nebraska Continuing Legal Education for distribution to lawyers and judges across the state.

Hon. Donald E. Rowlands, Lincoln County District Judge, 11th Judicial District

Hon. Donald E. Rowlands, Lincoln County District Judge, 11th Judicial District, for his work with Latino and Hispanic communities in his district. He helps with a local Hispanic citizenship project, speaking to classes about the judicial branch of the American system of government and developing a booklet on the court system for distribution to citizenship students.

Hon. Robert O. Hippe, Scotts Bluff County District Judge (now retired

Hon. Robert O. Hippe, Scotts Bluff County District Judge (now retired), 12th Judicial District, recognized for serving as editor of the Nebraska Bench Book, for developing a divorce education project for parents, and for community volunteer work.

Hon. James M. Murphy, Retired

Hon. James M. Murphy, Ret. retired from Douglas County District Court prior to receiving the award, 4th Judicial District, honored for his effort to establish the Douglas County Drug Court, which began in April 1997, and was the first of its kind in Nebraska.

Hon. Anne M. Paine

Judge Anne M. Paine was presented the “Child Champion Award” by Former Nebraska Chief Justice John Hendry, who founded the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative, two years after joining the bench,   The award, presented at the 2009 Nebraska Children’s Summit, recognized her as an individual with particular dedication and service in improving the court system for children.  She was commended for her dedication to abuse/neglect cases, creative solutions in meeting the needs of children, and commitment to improvements within the court system.  Over the next several years, she continued and expanded her participation in projects that improve the Nebraska judicial system.

Judge Paine has earned the Distinguished Judge award for her many innovative projects, the most recent being a pilot project to improve compliance with court-ordered financial obligations for probationers in criminal cases.  Working with the Administrative Office of the Courts & Probation and the National Center for State Courts, Judge Paine involved the judges and staff of the 11th Judicial District in designing an automated text-message and email system to notify offenders of upcoming payment obligations and court dates.

Judge Paine’s efforts are being shared throughout the state by the Administrative Office of the Courts and Probation.  Following local development of the text-message project, Judge Paine shared the concept through the Technology Committee.  Following a demonstration by the text-message software vendor, the JUSTICE system staff developed a comparable function now available through the statewide case management system.

Judge Paine currently serves on the Supreme Court Commission on Children in the Courts and the Juvenile Case Progression Standards Committee.  She is Lead Judge for the 11th Judicial District Eyes of the Child Team – 3, and serves on the “Centralization” committee of the Nebraska Court System Reengineering Committee.

 

Hon. Laureen K. Van Norman

Judge Laureen K. Van Norman was appointed to the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court on July 6, 1993, and has since worked tirelessly toward the improvement not only of her court and the workers’ compensation system but of the entire Nebraska judicial system. 

The Distinguished Judge award is presented to Judge Van Norman for her extended efforts to provide accessible, safe access to all participants in the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court process. 

Understanding that it is crucial that everyone has effective and meaningful access to the justice system, and that makeshift accommodations are not sufficient, Judge Van Norman made an accessible Workers’ Compensation Court a priority.  The main courtroom of the Workers’ Compensation Court in the State Capitol building has never been ADA compliant and could not be modified to comply with ADA requirements.  As a consequence, court clients and lawyers who could not fit their wheelchairs/scooters into the State Capitol’s narrow elevators or negotiate their way into the courtroom, had to have their hearings scheduled in Legislative rooms on the main floor of the Capitol. 

As Presiding Judge of the Compensation Court, she is considered the driving force in identifying, developing, and moving the Workers’ Compensation Court into Americans with Disability (ADA) act-compliant facilities. The courtroom has moved from the State Capitol’s tower to its new, permanent home at 1010 Lincoln Mall, across the street to the east of the City-County Building.  She has worked diligently and tenaciously to ensure adequate courtrooms, facilities and security for the public, judges and court staff.  The multi-year effort was successful only after a long and arduous process which involved all three branches of state government and several bills before the Nebraska Legislature. 

Judge Van Norman currently serves on the Supreme Court’s Implementation Committee on Pro Se Litigation, Technology Committee (including the Courtroom Enhancements and Strategic Planning subcommittees), and Judicial Branch Education Advisory Committee.  She is a regular participant in the Chief Justice’s annual judicial branch leadership meetings.