Nebraska Supreme Court

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Nebraska Supreme Court
Court information
Justices:   7
Location:   Lincoln, Nebraska
Chief:  $153,000
Associates:  $153,000
Judicial selection
Method:   Assisted appointment
Term:   6 years
Active justices

Michael Heavican  •  Kenneth Stephan  •  Lindsey Miller-Lerman  •  Michael McCormack  •  William Connolly (Nebraska)  •  John Wright (Nebraska)  •  William Cassel  •  

Seal of Nebraska.png

The Nebraska Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the state of Nebraska. It hears appeals and provides administrative leadership for the state's judicial system. The court also regulates the practice of law in the state.[1]


The current justices of the court are:
JudgeTermSelected by
Chief Justice Michael Heavican2006-2016Gov. Dave Heineman
Justice Kenneth Stephan1997-7/1/2015Gov. Ben Nelson
Justice Lindsey Miller-Lerman1998-2020Gov. Ben Nelson
Justice Michael McCormack1997-2018Gov. Ben Nelson
Justice William Connolly (Nebraska)1994-2016Gov. Ben Nelson
Justice John Wright (Nebraska)1994-2016Gov. Ben Nelson
Justice William Cassel2012-2016Gov. Dave Heineman

Judicial selection

The court consists of a chief justice and six associate justices. Each associate justice represents one of six districts. Judges are selected using an assisted appointment system. When vacancies occur, a judicial nominating commission holds a hearing to interview candidates to replace the departed judge. The commission is made up of four lawyers and four non-lawyers selected by the Nebraska State Bar Association. The commission chooses at least two candidates to submit to the governor, who has 60 days to make an appointment. If the governor does not appoint someone in time, the chief justice is responsible for choosing one of the commission's nominees.[1]

Judges who wish to retain their seats must run for retention in the first general election occurring more than three years after appointment. Judges are then subject to retention every six years. Voters are asked to answer the question, "Shall Judge___________be retained in office?" To remove a judge, more than 50 percent of voters must indicate they do not want the judge to be retained.[1]

Judges may retire at 65, or earlier if they have disability. There is no mandatory retirement age in the state.[1]


To serve as a judge in Nebraska, a candidate must be a U.S. citizen, be at least 30 years old, have practiced law in Nebraska for at least five years, and be currently licensed to practice before the state supreme court.[1]

Chief justice

The chief justice is appointed by the governor, who chooses his nomination from a list of candidates created by the judicial nominating commission. The chief justice is the executive head of the courts and may appoint a court administrator as the court's administrative director.[1]


The supreme court has discretionary jurisdiction over cases appealed from the Nebraska Court of Appeals. It has mandatory jurisdiction over cases involving sentences of death or life imprisonment, and cases questioning the constitutionality of state statutes. The court also has a supervisory role over attorney admission and discipline. The supreme court has general administrative authority over all lower courts.[1]


Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2014 49 220
2013 47 256
2012 72 210
2011 52 184
2010 59 220
2009 78 275
2008 54 250
2007 63 252


Political outlook

See also: Political outlook of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Nebraska was given a campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Nebraska received a score of -0.18. Based on the justices selected, Nebraska was the 20th most liberal court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.[4]


Financial disclosure

See also: Center for Public Integrity Study on State Supreme Court Disclosure Requirements

In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. Nebraska earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.[5]

History of the court

The Nebraska state capitol in Lincoln, Nebraska

The court is located in the Nebraska State Capitol building in Lincoln, Nebraska.[6]

See also

External links



JudgeElection Vote
Miller-LermanLindsey Miller-Lerman 68.4% ApprovedA


CandidateIncumbentRetention vote:Retention Vote %
StephanKenneth Stephan   ApprovedAYes 77.57%ApprovedA
McCormackMichael McCormack   ApprovedAYes 70.36%ApprovedA


See also: 2010 State Supreme Court elections

William Connolly was retained.

Nebraska Supreme Court
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
William Connolly Green check mark transparent.png n/a n/a

John Gerrard was retained.

Nebraska Supreme Court
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
John Gerrard Green check mark transparent.png n/a n/a

John Wright was retained.

Nebraska Supreme Court
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
John Wright Green check mark transparent.png n/a n/a
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