Nebraska Judicial System and Court System: How Does it Work?
Like most other states, Nebraska is home to various courts that serve their specific purposes. Let us take a look.
Nebraska Supreme Court
This is the highest court in the state and is known to practice discretionary jurisdiction for Court of Appeals and compulsory jurisdiction for cases of capital punishment or constitutionality. The court can also preside over cases that have bypassed or skipped the Court of Appeals for further review.
Nebraska Court of Appeals
This court serves as the intermediate appellate court for the state.
Nebraska District Courts
There are 12 district courts in the state, and they may represent more than one county. These courts typically preside over equity cases, felony criminal cases, and civil cases that involve more than $51,000. Sometimes, they also preside over appeals from the county courts.
Nebraska County Courts
Nebraska has 93 county courts, each representing its county. These courts handle cases such as misdemeanors, preliminary hearings in felony cases, city and traffic ordinance violations, civil cases involving $51,000, juvenile matters and even domestic matters.
The small claims court falls under the broader category of county courts.
Nebraska Courts with Limited Jurisdiction
For juvenile issues, Nebraska has Separate Juvenile Courts. They're located in the Lancaster, Douglas, and Sarpy Counties. However, outside of these counties, juvenile cases are presided over in the county courts.
For workers’ rights, the state has the Workers’ Compensation Court.
Then, there are the Nebraska Problem-Solving Courts. These courts handle domestic disputes, community issues, and drug-related charges. Most of the districts in Nebraska have a problem-solving court. These include domestic violence courts, family treatment courts, mental health courts, DUI courts, etc.
Nebraska Federal Courts
Nebraska is home to two federal courts – the District of Nebraska Bankruptcy Court and the District of Nebraska. Appeals from these courts are presided over at the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals.
Nebraska Judicial Selection
The selection process for the various types of courts in Nebraska is different. State court judges are selected by merit. More specifically, they rely on assisted appointment methods. The appointed judges serve a 3-year term, after which, they can stand again for reelection. The subsequent terms go up to 6 years.
The seven justices of the state supreme court and the six justices of the court of appeals, along with the 55 judges of the state district courts, are appointed by the governor. The nominating commission for this aids the governor.
When a vacancy shows up, the nominating commission submits the names of two or more qualified candidates. The governor then appoints one. If the governor fails to do this in 60 days, the decision is made by the chief justice of the supreme court.
Initially, the judges sever a 3-year term. After that, they are expected to stand in yes-no retention elections, which take place as part of the next general election. The subsequent terms last six years.
Nebraska Selection of the Chief Justice
The selection process for the chief justice depends on the court. For the supreme court, the decision is made by the governor. However, in the case of the court of appeals, the chief justice is selected via peer vote and finally, supreme court approval.
For the district courts, the chief justice is selected via peer vote for a 1-year term.
The three standard qualifications for any judge in Nebraska is that he/she must be a US citizen, above the age of 30, and a resident of the state of Nebraska (for more than three years).
As for the remaining qualifications, they tend to vary according to the court that the judge is required to serve.