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Article V, Nebraska Constitution

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Nebraska Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIVXVXVIXVIIXVIII
Article V of the Nebraska Constitution consists of 31 sections.

Section 1

Text of Section 1:

Power Vested in Courts; Chief Justice; Powers

The judicial power of the state shall be vested in a Supreme Court, an appellate court, district courts, county courts, in and for each county, with one or more judges for each county or with one judge for two or more counties, as the Legislature shall provide, and such other courts inferior to the Supreme Court as may be created by law. In accordance with rules established by the Supreme Court and not in conflict with other provisions of this Constitution and laws governing such matters, general administrative authority over all courts in this state shall be vested in the Supreme Court and shall be exercised by the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice shall be the executive head of the courts and may appoint an administrative director thereof.

Section 2

Text of Section 2:

Supreme Court; Number of Judges; Quorum; Jurisdiction; Retired Judges, Temporary Duty; Court Divisions; Assignments by Chief Justice

The Supreme Court shall consist of seven judges, one of whom shall be the Chief Justice. A majority of the judges shall be necessary to constitute a quorum. A majority of the members sitting shall have authority to pronounce a decision except in cases involving the constitutionality of an act of the Legislature. No legislative act shall be held unconstitutional except by the concurrence of five judges. The Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction in all cases relating to the revenue, civil cases in which the state is a party, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus, election contests involving state officers other than members of the Legislature, and such appellate jurisdiction as may be provided by law. The Legislature may provide that any judge of the Supreme Court or judge of the appellate court created pursuant to Article V, section 1, of this Constitution who has retired may be called upon for temporary duty by the Supreme Court. Whenever necessary for the prompt submission and determination of causes, the Supreme Court may appoint judges of the district court or the appellate court to act as associate judges of the Supreme Court, sufficient in number, with the judges of the Supreme Court, to constitute two divisions of the court of five judges in each division. Whenever judges of the district court or the appellate court are so acting, the court shall sit in two divisions, and four of the judges thereof shall be necessary to constitute a quorum. Judges of the district court or the appellate court so appointed shall serve during the pleasure of the court and shall have all the powers of judges of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice shall make assignments of judges to the divisions of the court, preside over the division of which he or she is a member, and designate the presiding judge of the other division. The judges of the Supreme Court, sitting without division, shall hear and determine all cases involving the constitutionality of a statute and all appeals involving capital cases and may review any decision rendered by a division of the court. In such cases, in the event of the disability or disqualification by interest or otherwise of any of the judges of the Supreme Court, the court may appoint judges of the district court or the appellate court to sit temporarily as judges of the Supreme Court, sufficient to constitute a full court of seven judges. Judges of the district court or the appellate court shall receive no additional salary by virtue of their appointment and service as herein provided, but they shall be reimbursed their necessary traveling and hotel expenses.

Section 3

Text of Section 3:

Terms of Supreme Court

At least two terms of the supreme court shall be held each year, at the seat of government.

Section 4

Text of Section 4:

Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court; Selection; Residence; Location of Offices

The Chief Justice and the Judges of the Supreme Court shall be selected as provided in this Article V. They may reside at the place where the court is located but shall reside within the state, and no Chief Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court shall be deemed thereby to have lost his or her residence at the place from which he or she was selected. The offices of the Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court shall be at the place where the court is located.

Section 5

Text of Section 5:

Supreme Court Judicial Districts; Redistricting; When

The Legislature shall divide the state into six contiguous and compact districts of approximately equal population, which shall be numbered from one to six, which shall be known as the Supreme Court judicial districts. The Legislature shall redistrict the state after each federal decennial census. In any such redistricting, county lines shall be followed whenever practicable, but other established lines may be followed at the discretion of the Legislature. Such districts shall not be changed except upon the concurrence of a majority of the members of the Legislature. Whenever the Supreme Court is redistricted, the judges serving prior to the redistricting shall continue in office, and the law providing for such redistricting shall where necessary specify the newly established districts which they shall represent for the balance of their terms.

Section 6

Text of Section 6:

Chief Justice to Preside

The Chief Justice shall preside at all terms and sittings of the supreme court, and in his absence or disability the judges present shall select one of their number chief justice pro tempore.

Section 7

Text of Section 7:

Chief Justice; Associate Justices; Qualifications

No person shall be eligible to the office of Chief Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court unless he shall be at least thirty years of age, and a citizen of the United States, and shall have resided in this state at least three years next preceding his selection; nor, in the case of a Judge of the Supreme Court selected from a Supreme Court judicial district, unless he shall be a resident and elector of the district from which selected.

Section 8

Text of Section 8:

Supreme Court Appoint Staff; Budget; Copyright of State Reports

The Supreme Court shall appoint such staff as may be needed for the proper dispatch of the business of the court. The court shall prepare and recommend to each session of the Legislature a budget of the estimated expenses of the court. The copyright of the state reports shall forever remain the property of the state.

Section 9

Text of Section 9:

District Courts; Jurisdiction; Felons May Plead Guilty; Sentence

The district courts shall have both chancery and common law jurisdiction, and such other jurisdiction as the Legislature may provide; and the judges thereof may admit persons charged with felony to a plea of guilty and pass such sentence as may be prescribed by law.

Section 10

Text of Section 10:

District Court Judicial Districts

The state shall be divided into district court judicial districts. Until otherwise provided by law, the boundaries of the judicial districts and the number of judges of the district courts shall remain as now fixed. The judges of the district courts shall be selected from the respective districts as provided in this Article V.

Section 11

Text of Section 11:

District Court Judges; Change of Number; Boundaries

The Legislature may change the number of judges of the district courts and alter the boundaries of judicial districts. Such change in number or alterations in boundaries shall not vacate the office of any judge. Such districts shall be formed of compact territory bounded by county lines.

Section 12

Text of Section 12:

District Court Judges May Hold Court for Each Other; Retired Judges, Temporary duty

The judges of the district court may hold court for each other and shall do so when required by law or when ordered by the Supreme Court. The Legislature may provide that any judge of the district court who has retired may be called upon for temporary duty by the Supreme Court.

Section 13

Text of Section 13:

Supreme and District Judges; Salaries

The chief justice, the judges of the supreme court and the judges of the district court shall receive such salaries as may be provided by law.

Section 14

Text of Section 14:

Supreme and District Judges Not to Act as Attorneys; Judge Not to Practice Law, When

No judge of the Supreme or district courts shall act as attorney or counsellor at law in any manner whatsoever. No judge shall practice law in any court in any matter arising in or growing out of any proceedings in his own court.

Section 15

Text of Section 15:

Repealed 1970. Laws 1969, c. 419, sec. 1(2), p. 1432.

Section 16

Text of Section 16:

Repealed 1970. Laws 1969, c. 419, sec. 1(2), p. 1432.

Section 17

Text of Section 17:

Repealed 1970. Laws 1969, c. 419, sec. 1(2), p. 1432.

Section 18

Text of Section 18:

Repealed 1970. Laws 1969, c. 419, sec. 1(2), p. 1432.

Section 19

Text of Section 19:

Practice of All Courts to Be Uniform

The organization, jurisdiction, powers, proceedings, and practice of all courts of the same class or grade, so far as regulated by law and the force and effect of the proceedings, judgments and decrees of such courts, severally, shall be uniform.

Section 20

Text of Section 20:

Officers in This Article; Tenure; Residence; Duties; Compensation

All officers provided for in this Article shall hold their offices until their successors shall be qualified and they shall respectively reside in the district or county from which they shall be selected. All officers, when not otherwise provided for in this Article, shall perform such duties and receive such compensation as may be prescribed by law.

Section 21

Text of Section 21:

Merit Plan for Selection of Judges; Terms of Office; Filling of Vacancies; Procedure; Voting for Nominee

(1) In the case of any vacancy in the Supreme Court or in any district court or in such other court or courts made subject to this provision by law, such vacancy shall be filled by the Governor from a list of at least two nominees presented to him by the appropriate judicial nominating commission. If the Governor shall fail to make an appointment from the list within sixty days from the date it is presented to him, the appointment shall be made by the Chief Justice or the acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from the same list.

(2) In all other cases, any vacancy shall be filled as provided by law.

(3) At the next general election following the expiration of three years from the date of appointment of any judge under the provisions of subsection (1) of this section and every six years thereafter as long as such judge retains office, each Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or district court or such other court or courts as the Legislature shall provide shall have his right to remain in office subject to approval or rejection by the electorate in such manner as the Legislature shall provide; Provided, that every judge holding or elected to an office described in subsection (1) of this section on the effective date of this amendment whether by election or appointment, upon qualification shall be deemed to have been selected and to have once received the approval of the electorate as herein provided, and shall be required to submit his right to continue in office to the approval or rejection of the electorate at the general election next preceding the expiration of the term of office for which such judge was elected or appointed, and every six years thereafter. In the case of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the electorate of the entire state shall vote on the question of approval or rejection. In the case of any Judge of the Supreme Court, other than the Chief Justice, and any judge of the district court or any other court made subject to subsection (1) of this section, the electorate of the district from which such judge was selected shall vote on the question of such approval or rejection.

(4) There shall be a judicial nominating commission for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and one for each judicial district of the Supreme Court and of the district court and one for each area or district served by any other court made subject to subsection (1) of this section by law. Each judicial nominating commission shall consist of nine members, one of whom shall be a Judge of the Supreme Court who shall be designated by the Governor and shall act as chairman, but shall not be entitled to vote. The members of the bar of the state residing in the area from which the nominees are to be selected shall designate four of their number to serve as members of said commission, and the Governor shall appoint four citizens, not admitted to practice law before the courts of the state, from among the residents of the same geographical area to serve as members of said commission. Not more than four of such voting members shall be of the same political party. The terms of office for members of each judicial nominating commission shall be staggered and shall be fixed by the Legislature. The nominees of any such commission cannot include a member of such commission or any person who has served as a member of such commission within a period of two years immediately preceding his nomination or for such additional period as the Legislature shall provide. The names of candidates shall be released to the public prior to a public hearing.

(5) Members of the nominating commission shall vote for the nominee of their choice by roll call. Each candidate must receive a majority of the voting members of the nominating commission to have his name submitted to the Governor.

Section 22

Text of Section 22:

State May Sue and Be Sued

The state may sue and be sued, and the Legislature shall provide by law in what manner and in what courts suits shall be brought.

Section 23

Text of Section 23:

Jurisdiction of Judges at Chambers

The several judges of the courts of record shall have such jurisdiction at chambers as may be provided by law.

Section 24

Text of Section 24:

Style of Process

All process shall run in the name of "The State of Nebraska," and all prosecutions shall be carried on in the name of "The State of Nebraska."

Section 25

Text of Section 25:

Supreme Court to Promulgate Rules of Practice; to Make Recommendations to Legislature

For the effectual administration of justice and the prompt disposition of judicial proceedings, the supreme court may promulgate rules of practice and procedure for all courts, uniform as to each class of courts, and not in conflict with laws governing such matters. To the same end, the court may, and when requested by the Legislature by resolution shall, certify to the Legislature its conclusions as to desirable amendments or changes in the general laws governing such practice and proceedings.

Section 26

Text of Section 26:

Supreme Court to Promulgate Rules of Practice; to Make Recommendations to Legislature

Proviso as to effect of amendment. If the foregoing amendment shall be adopted by the electors, all existing courts which are not in the foregoing amendment specifically enumerated and concerning which no other provision is herein made, shall continue in existence and exercise their present jurisdiction, and the judges thereof shall receive their present compensation, until otherwise provided by law; and such judges or appointees to fill vacancies shall hold their offices until their successors shall be elected and qualified.

Section 27

Text of Section 27:

Juvenile Courts; Authorization

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 9 of this Article, the Legislature may establish courts to be known as juvenile courts, with such jurisdiction and powers as the Legislature may provide. The term, qualification, compensation, and method of appointment or election of the judges of such courts, and the rules governing proceedings therein, may be fixed by the Legislature. The state shall be divided into juvenile court judicial districts that correspond to district court judicial districts until otherwise provided by law. No such court shall be established or afterwards abolished in any juvenile court judicial district unless approved by a majority of those voting on the issue.

Section 28

Text of Section 28:

Commission on Judicial Qualifications; Appointment; Composition; Qualifications

The Legislature shall provide for a Commission on Judicial Qualifications consisting of: (1) Three judges, including one district court judge, one county court judge, and one judge of any other court inferior to the Supreme Court as now exists or may hereafter be created by law, all of whom shall be appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; (2) three members of the Nebraska State Bar Association who shall have practiced law in this state for at least ten years and who shall be appointed by the Executive Council of the Nebraska State Bar Association; (3) three citizens, none of whom shall be a Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or judge of any court, active or retired, nor a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association, and who shall be appointed by the Governor; and (4) the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who shall serve as its chairperson.

Section 29

Text of Section 29:

Commission on Judicial Qualifications; Vote of majority Required for Action

The commission shall act by a vote of the majority of its members and no action of the commission shall be valid unless concurred in by the majority of its members.

Section 30

Text of Section 30:

Judges; Discipline; Removal from Office; Grounds; Procedure

(1) A Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or judge of any court of this state may be reprimanded, disciplined, censured, suspended without pay for a definite period of time, not to exceed six months, or removed from office for :(a) willful misconduct in office,

(b) willful disregard of or failure to perform his or her duties,
(c) habitual intemperance,
(d) conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude,
(e) disbarment as a member of the legal profession licensed to practice law in the State of Nebraska, or
(f) conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute, or he or she may be retired for physical or mental disability seriously interfering with the performance of his or her duties if such disability is determined to be permanent or reasonably likely to become permanent. Any citizen of the State of Nebraska may request the Commission on Judicial Qualifications to consider the qualifications of any Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or other judge, and in such event the commission shall make such investigation as the commission deems necessary and shall, upon a finding of probable cause, reprimand such Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or other judge or order a formal open hearing to be held before it concerning the reprimand, discipline, censure, suspension, removal, or retirement of such Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or other judge. In the alternative or in addition, the commission may request the Supreme Court to appoint one or more special masters who shall be judges of courts of record to hold a formal open hearing to take evidence in any such matter, and to report to the commission. If, after formal open hearing, or after considering the record and report of the masters, the commission finds that the charges are established by clear and convincing evidence, it shall recommend to the Supreme Court that the Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or other judge involved shall be reprimanded, disciplined, censured, suspended without pay for a definite period of time not to exceed six months, removed, or retired as the case may be.

(2) The Supreme Court shall review the record of the proceedings and in its discretion may permit the introduction of additional evidence. The Supreme Court shall make such determination as it finds just and proper, and may order the reprimand, discipline, censure, suspension, removal, or retirement of such Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or other judge, or may wholly reject the recommendation. Upon an order for retirement, the Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or other judge shall thereby be retired with the same rights and privileges as if he or she had retired pursuant to statute. Upon an order for removal, the Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or other judge shall be removed from office, his or her salary shall cease from the date of such order, and he or she shall be ineligible for judicial office. Upon an order for suspension, the Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or other judge shall draw no salary and shall perform no judicial functions during the period of suspension. Suspension shall not create a vacancy in the office of Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or other judge.

(3) Upon order of the Supreme Court, a Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or other judge shall be disqualified from acting as a Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or other judge, without loss of salary, while there is pending (a) an indictment or information charging him or her in the United States with a crime punishable as a felony under Nebraska or federal law or (b) a recommendation to the Supreme Court by the Commission on Judicial Qualifications for his or her removal or retirement.

(4) In addition to the procedure set forth in subsections (1) and (2) of this section, on recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Qualifications or on its own motion, the Supreme Court (a) shall remove a Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or other judge from office when in any court in the United States such justice or judge pleads guilty or no contest to a crime punishable as a felony under Nebraska or federal law, and (b) may suspend a Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or other judge from office without salary when in any court in the United States such justice or judge is found guilty of a crime punishable as a felony under Nebraska or federal law or of any other crime that involves moral turpitude. If his or her conviction is reversed, suspension shall terminate and he or she shall be paid his or her salary for the period of suspension. If he or she is suspended and his or her conviction becomes final the Supreme Court shall remove him or her from office.

(5) All papers filed with and proceedings before the commission or masters appointed by the Supreme Court pursuant to this section prior to a reprimand or formal open hearing shall be confidential. The filing of papers with and the testimony given before the commission or masters or the Supreme Court shall be deemed a privileged communication.

When the Commission on Judicial Qualifications determines that disciplinary action is warranted, whether it be a reprimand or otherwise, the Commission on Judicial Qualifications shall issue one or more short announcements confirming that a complaint has been filed; stating the subject and nature of the complaint, the disciplinary action recommended or reprimand issued, or the date of the hearing; clarifying the procedural aspects; and reciting the right of a judge to a fair hearing.

When the Commission on Judicial Qualifications determines that disciplinary action is not warranted, and the existence of any investigation or complaint has become publicly known, the judge against whom a complaint has been filed or investigation commenced may waive the confidentiality of papers and proceedings under this subsection.

The Supreme Court shall by rule provide for procedure under this section before the commission, the masters, and the Supreme Court.

(6) No Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or other judge shall participate, as a member of the commission, or as a master, or as a member of the Supreme Court, in any proceedings involving his or her own reprimand, discipline, censure, suspension, removal, or retirement.

Section 31

Text of Section 31:

Judges; Procedure for Removal from Office Cumulative

These amendments are alternative to and cumulative with the methods of removal of Justices and judges provided in Article III, section 17, and Article IV, section 5, of this Constitution, and any other provision of law relating to the methods and manner of the removal of Justices, Judges, and judges of the courts of this state.

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