– Photo by Lorraine Boyd
The Omaha Bar Association October membership meeting annually hosts newly-sworn Nebraska State Bar Association members. The Octoberfest-themed dinner offers them an opportunity to meet local lawyers and judges on an informal basis. Here, 18 of the new lawyers pose with the OBA President Doug Law (far right).
The evening’s speaker was Chief Judge Laurie Smith Camp, U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska. She  shared several of her missteps as a lawyer, ones that were funny in the retelling, but not so much at the time. Her point: You will all make mistakes. Learn from them and move on. They are survivable.
She also told them that if they know they are going to be the butt of jokes at, say, the Annual Barristers’ Christmas Party/Roast, attend and be prepared to laugh at yourself.

Nebraska Officials Look
To Reduce Prison Crowding

By Grant Schulte
Lincoln (AP) – Nebraska’s top office-holders are looking at ways to reduce crowding in the state prison system and say they will likely push for changes once lawmakers convene next year.
Last Wednesday, officials from all three branches of state government met in Lincoln to hear from the Council of State Governments, a national group that conducts research for local, state and federal governments.
Nebraska lawmakers started looking at overcrowding earlier this year as part of a prison reform effort that aims to avoid possible federal intervention or the construction of a costly new prison.
The prisons were operating at 157 percent of their total design capacity as of Sept. 30, with 5,151 inmates registered at 10 state facilities. At the same time last year, the prisons were at 150 percent of their capacity.

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Degan of Husch Blackwell’s Omaha Office
Recognized in Benchmark Litigation’s 2015 List
Husch Blackwell recently announced that Michael S. Degan, partner in the firm’s Omaha office, was named a Future Star on Benchmark Litigation’s 2015 List.  Benchmark Litigation identifies the leading U.S. trial attorneys and firms at the local and national levels. Focused exclusively on the U.S. litigation market, the publication’s rankings and editorials are the result of extensive interviews with private practice lawyers and in-house counsel. The guide’s Local Litigation Stars are recommended consistently by peers and clients as reputable and effective litigators, while Future Stars are litigators who are highlighted as likely to be become Local Litigation Stars in coming editions.  Degan is one of twenty-two Husch Blackwell attorneys recognized from the nationwide firm’s Illnois, Missouri and Nebraska offices.
A litigator on Husch Blackwell’s energy & natural resources team, Degan handles litigation and regulatory matters for industry clients. A first-chair trial lawyer in his 20th year of practice, he has appeared in more than two dozen state and federal jurisdictions on behalf of clients. With a strong background in commercial litigation, product liability and insurance coverage litigation, Degan routinely handles disputes in other industries.  He earned his juris doctorate, cum laude, from Creighton University School of Law in 1994 and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Creighton University in 1990.  Degan has been a fellow of the Nebraska State Bar Association since 2011 and the Litigation Counsel of America since 2013.
For more information regarding Husch Blackwell, please go to the firm’s website at
McGrath North Welcomes Two New Associates
McGrath North recently announced the addition of attorneys Nicole Griffard and Daniel Lam to the firm.
Griffard joins McGrath North as part of its litigation group and will focus her practice on a wide range of commercial litigation. Griffard, a 2014 graduate of Creighton University School of Law, received her bachelor’s degree in English and her master’s degree in education from the University of Colorado.
Lam joins McGrath North’s financial services group and will assist clients primarily in the areas of corporate finance, commercial lending, and regulatory compliance.  Lam is a 2014 magna cum laude graduate of Creighton University School of Law and received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Gonzaga University.
“Nicole and Daniel have proven themselves academically and both have excelled as part of McGrath North’s law clerk program.” said Roger Wells, President of McGrath North.  “They meet our standard of excellence and are great additions to the firm.”
For more information regarding McGrath North, please go to

Supreme Court Appoints Chaffee as Director
Of Newly Created Office of Public Guardian
The Nebraska Supreme Court has appointed Nebraska attorney Michelle J. Chaffee as the director of the Office of Public Guardian.
Chaffee has been serving as legal counsel for the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee. In addition to working in state government, her professional career has also included private legal practice, working in non-profits and ten years’ experience in higher education administration.   Chaffee will be responsible for building the new statewide office and assisting in the establishment of guardian and conservator services throughout Nebraska in both urban and rural courts.
"Michelle’s skills in research, policy development, administration in higher education, and knowledge of issues involving social services have prepared her for recognizing the need for guardians and conservators within the Nebraska court system as well as the challenge of building a network of new services across the state.  I'm very pleased that she is joining us in this new venture," said State Court Administrator Corey Steel.

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David L. Piester is the President of the Board of Directors of Legal Aid of Nebraska. He is a retired United States Magistrate Judge. 
– Photo courtesy of Legal Aid of Nebraska
Legal Aid’s Service, Projects
Continue During Interim Period

By David L. Piester
By now most in the legal community have learned that Legal Aid of Nebraska (LAN) is in an interim status pending the hiring of a new executive director.  Since this development, the firm is continuing to operate at full steam, with all programs continuing to serve Legal Aid’s client communities.
Management responsibilities are being handled by an experienced management team. Annette Farnan, Deputy Director, has been appointed Interim Executive Director. She has been with Legal Aid over twenty years, and has served as Deputy Director for five years. Jen Gaughan, Director of Litigation, has been named Interim Deputy Director. Jen has been with Legal Aid over fifteen years, and has served as Director of Litigation for five years.

The Daily Record
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Just look for the COMPLETE ISSUES link in our menu.  
Issues will be available online for five weeks following publication.

Constitutional Scholar Chemerinsky
Makes a Case Against Supreme Court

By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record

This year’s theme for the Nebraska State Bar Association’s annual meeting was “Our Constitution: Roots of Liberty.” So, it was only fitting that the keynote speaker was Erwin Chemerinsky, founding Dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law and a preeminent constitutional law scholar.
He addressed a packed ballroom just days after the release of his latest book, The Case Against the Supreme Court.
Holding hundreds of lawyers spellbound for well over an hour, he systematically analyzed the decade of Chief Justice John Roberts’ Court, as well as the entire history of the high court.
The scholar, professor and practicing appellate attorney contends that, despite the general public’s belief that the Supreme Court strives to be objective, the Court is anything but. “The Court is made up of fallible men and women who inevitably base decisions on their own biases and prejudices.”

His book examines the makeup and decision-making of the Court throughout history. In it, he offers several solutions that he contends would make the Supreme Court more effective and more closely aligned with what he believes the Founding Fathers had in mind when they created it.
To illustrate his contention that the Court’s decisions reflect their personal beliefs and ideology, he chose several cases to discuss at the annual meeting.
It is worth noting that throughout his talk, Chemerinsky never referred to any notes and never faltered while citing “chapter and verse” of many high court decisions. Members of the audience were abuzz after the presentation about the speaker’s mastery of his subject.
He divided his talk into seven “themes.”

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Erin McCartney visits  with colleague Wesley Bain, who was hired at Turco Law about the same time she joined the firm.
Erin McCartney
Bankruptcy Law Practice Is ‘A Good Fit’

By Dennis Friend
The Daily Record

Erin McCartney knew when she was growing up in central Illinois in a town named Pekin, near Peoria, that she wanted to help people.
She just wasn’t sure she wanted to be a lawyer.
One thing she did know: “I always had plans on living on the east coast. I wasn’t 100 percent sure about law, but I never thought I would live in Omaha – or Nebraska.”
And, yet, here’s Erin McCartney at the age of 35, practicing bankruptcy law with John T. Turco & Associates,  in Omaha.
How did that happen?
McCartney suggested it may have been a happy combination of circumstances and timing.
Start with her personality. She’s cheerful and outgoing and “I have always wanted to help people. It started at an early age. On the playground, I helped the kid who got hurt.”
After a while, the other students knew she would be the one they saw helping the crying or injured student.
“My mother was a strong influence,” she said.

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Healthy Lawyering!
Tools to Cope
With Stress and Conflict

By Jack Martin
The Daily Record

“Sorry I took so long in returning your call,” the Omaha attorney said. “But I’ve got seven cases coming up in court next week and I’m really under the gun.”
A heavy workload is often cited, along with other factors, for the contin
uing – and perhaps growing – problem of stress that affects attorneys, leading many to develop anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. Some try to cope by abusing alcohol or drugs. The most extreme cases end in suicide.
But help is available, and various helpful measures were described at a recent program organized by the Creighton University School of Law called “Healthy Lawyering: Tips for Dealing with Stress and Conflict.” More than 120 people attended.

“The nature of the practice of law is an adversarial process,” said Carol Knoepfler, J.D., an assistant professor of law at Creighton and one of the program organizers. “Most professions don’t have that, and it can make it hard to be a lawyer sometimes.”
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It’s the Judge Lyle Strom Mock Trial Program
“To Judge Lyle Strom: In honor of the program being named after you, I have a token of appreciation, that I am 100-percent sure you are going to enjoy: a sour cream raisin pie,” Nebraska State Bar Foundation Executive Director Doris Huffman said.
For more photo coverage
– Photos by Lorraine Boyd

– Photo by Lorraine Boyd
From left, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard G. Kopf,  Senior U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon, Chief U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp and U.S. District Judge John M. Gerrard share a laugh at the unveiling of Judge Bataillon’s caricature.

Bataillon Feted for Years of Service
Federal District Court Judge Joseph Bataillon officially retired October 3 after 17 years on the bench. He immediately took senior status, so October 6 it was business as usual...sort of.

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Director of Continuing Legal Education/Editor of The Nebraska Lawyer


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Judge High to Retire From
Workers’ Compensation Court

Judge Michael K. High will be retiring on November 30, 2014 after serving nearly 17 years on the bench of the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court. The court extends its appreciation and thanks to Judge High for his many years of service.
Governor Ben Nelson appointed Judge High to the bench of the court on January 8, 1998. The court is composed of seven judges who are initially appointed by the governor and who then remain on the bench for successive six-year terms upon approval of the electorate. Judge High last stood for retention in November 2008.
Judge High served nearly six years as presiding judge of the court. He was elected to begin his first term on July 1, 2001 and was re-elected to serve second and third terms, continuing through March 5, 2007. The presiding judge is selected from among the court’s seven judges for a two-year term.
Judge High
Judge High is a graduate of University of Nebraska-Lincoln (BS in Agricultural Economics, 1972; MA in Economics, 1986) and the University of Nebraska College of Law (JD, 1986). Prior to his appointment to the court, he was a farmer and rancher (1972–1982); elected commissioner - Gosper County, Nebraska, Board of Commissioners (1978–1982); private law practice (1986–1998).
A reception will be held in Judge High’s honor on Friday, November 21, 2014, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., at the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court, 1010 Lincoln Mall, Suite 100, in Lincoln.
For more information regarding workers’ compensation in Nebraska, please see the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court’s web site at, or call the court’s information line at 1-800-599-5155 or 402-471-6468.

Chief Justice Michael G. Heavican (center) with Distinguished Judge for Service to the Community Award recipient Lancaster County District Court Judge Steven D. Burns (left) and Distinguished Judge for Improvement of the Judicial System Award recipient Douglas County District Court Judge Gary B. Randall (right). 
Distinguished Judge Awards
Presented To Two District Court Judges

Chief Justice Michael G. Heavican recently presented two Nebraska judges with the Supreme Court’s highest honor. Lancaster County District Court Judge Steven D. Burns of Lincoln was given the Service to the Community Award for his work as a judge who has distinguished himself through performance of service to the community on a volunteer level.

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– Photos by Lorraine Boyd
NSBA Honors Excellence
The Nebraska State Bar Association luncheon during the Annual Meeting gave the organization a chance to honor its own, and to pass the gavel to the new leadership. New President Amie Martinez (left) presented a plaque to outgoing President G. Michael Fenner to commemorate his year of service and to thank him for his leadership during a difficult year of transition. While it was serious business, there were many smiles during the awards presentations. To see others honored,CLICK HERE.

Pilot Program Offers
Alternative in Neglect Cases

By Grant Schulte
Lincoln (AP) – Nebraska officials have launched a pilot program to keep more neglected children with their families, as long as steps can be taken to keep them safe.

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Jerry Greenfield’s storefront venture grew into a $300 million business.
“We make the best possible ice cream in the nicest way possible,” Greenfield says.

Integrity Awards and Keynote Speaker
Are Sweet Treat for Area Businesses

By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record

Definition: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness, adherence to moral and ethical principles.

The Better Business Bureau recognized those who demonstrated those qualities at their annual Integrity Awards Luncheon on October 7.

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From left, those accepting BBB’s 2014 Integrity Award winners are: Daniel J. Rehal, President of Vision2Voice; Vice President Melissa Smith and President Michaela Williams of Care Consultants for the Aging; Ben Callahan, owner of The Driveway Company; Kevin Jackson, President and CEO of Total Construction Services Inc.; Chief People Officer Kristy Johnson of Medical Solutions LLC; and Lew Trowbridge, Executive Vice President, Treasurer and CFO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska.
New Bar Leaders Step Up
At 2014 Annual Meeting

At the NSBA Annual Meeting Thursday Amie Martinez accepted the gavel from outgoing NSBA President Mike Fenner. After a year of many changes, Martinez will take over to lead the state’s largest association of lawyers.
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Rossiter, Maul Elected 2014-2015 NSBA President-Elect, President-Elect Designate
At the Annual Meeting Thursday, October 9, Robert F. Rossiter and Tom Maul assumed their posts as President-Elect and President-Elect Designate of the Nebraska State Bar Association.

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House of Delegates, Executive Council
Welcome New Leadership

Timothy Engler took over as Nebraska State Bar Association House of Delegates Chair, and Kim Robak was elected to the NSBA Executive Council at the House of Delegates meeting Thursday, Oct. 9. House members were gathered at the NSBA Annual Meeting in La Vista.
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