EYEONTHEBENCH is an online resource with the purpose of informing and educating the public about Nebraska's judges. EYEONTHEBENCH believes an informed electorate ensures judicial accountability and encourages participation in the judicial retention process.
Voters decide if a judge stays on the bench.
How does someone become a judge? When a judicial vacancy occurs, lawyers interested in being appointed to the bench submit their names for consideration to the judicial nominating commission. The judicial nominating commission, made up of lawyers and non-lawyers representing both political parties, and chaired by a Supreme Court judge, then holds a public hearing. The candidates may speak on their own behalf, or others may speak for or against any candidate. The commission forwards to the Governor the names of all candidates deemed to be qualified (at least two names must be forwarded) and the Governor then makes a selection from that list. A new judge runs to be retained in office at the first general election occurring more than three years after his or her appointment, and every six years thereafter. The ballot reads: "Shall judge _____ be retained in office?" If more than 50 percent of the voters choose not to retain the judge, her or she is removed from office and the vacancy is filled through the same process.
Voting promotes accountability. Involving the public in the evaluation of judges promotes confidence.
From Nebraska Supreme Court Judge John Irwin and Daniel Real- ENRICHING JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE: SEEKING TO IMPROVE THE RETENTION VOTE PHASE OF AN APPOINTIVE SELECTION SYSTEM:
"...if a significant portion of the voting public chooses not to participate in a judicial retention election, then sitting judges arguably have less imperative to act impartially and to strive for high standards of competence and temperance..."
Contrary to the relatively simple surveys currently used in Nebraska, other states include commissions comprised of attorneys, non-attorneys, and judges, who conduct surveys of court users (attorneys, litigants, jurors, law enforcement personnel, other judges, etc.) on such topics as integrity, legal competence, communication skills, temperance, punctuality, administrative skills, case-progression, rates of reversal on appeal, and continuing education.
A meaningful judicial performance evaluation system can effectively improve the quality of information available to the voting public, and also promote public confidence in the information because the public is so heavily involved..."
Nebraska does not have an evaluation process that involves the public. The voter has little information on which to base their decision when they cast their vote. EYEONTHEBENCH is dedicated to gathering relevant information in one place and providing a forum for the public's opinion.
Be an informed and involved voter!
What makes a judge worthy of your vote?
EYEONTHEBENCH won't tell you how to vote. EOB is providing this information so that you can decide how to vote. EOB will continually update these pages. We encourage you to research your judges on your own.
If you have never been in a court room think about what characteristics you would want your judge to possess. If you have been in a courtroom, educate other voters by posting on the comments sections about your experience. Read court opinions and news then consider a judge's policymaking. We encourage anyone's comments but court users/employees/watchers are especially encouraged to do so.
Another set of criteria to guide your decision is the Nebraska Code of Judicial Conduct. The code of conduct governs a judge both on the bench and in his/her personal life.
Check EYEONTHEBENCH.ORG for regular updates!
Every judge has an individual page which provides the following information: BIOGRAPHY, CONTROVERSY, DISCIPLINE, NEWS, and COMMENTS.
• BIOGRAPHY: From the Nebraska Court website.
• CONTROVERSY: Controversy is a judge's decision that made local national news.
• DISCIPLINE: Posted if the judge has been disciplined for misconduct. NOTE: In 2005 Nebraska statutes were amended providing for public reprimands. Therefore, EOB can't say with certainty if the judge was disciplined before 2006. We are continually researching and will post disciplinary actions.
• NEWS: EOB has linked to the news on each judge's page in accordance with the Lincoln Journal Star's terms of service. Linking to the news from LJS in no way indicates their approval of, or any partnership with EOB. The Lincoln Journal Star has proven to be an objective news source with archives available to the public. We do provide other links for both news and education.
• PUBLIC OPINION: We encourage the public to post their opinions or experiences on the judge’s page. (Posts do not represent EOB opinions or experiences.) By posting you agree to our terms of service.
Know which judges you will be voting on and do your homework.
The county you live in is part of a Judicial District. The judicial districts vary according to which judge you are voting for. There are three judicial district maps, one each for County judges, District court judges and Supreme Court/Appellate court judges.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Worker's Compensation judges are a statewide vote.
Nebraska has three separate juvenile courts located in Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy counties. In the remaining counties, juvenile matters are heard in the county courts.
Judges who are on the 2012 ballot can be found here.
You now know more about Nebraska judges than most voters.
We do solicit information. While we don't provide monetary gain, we do provide exposure. Contact us if you have something to contribute!
We appreciate all comments or questions about our site. If you cannot be civil be aware that your comments become the property of eyeonthebench and may be shared. Posting under another person's name or threats of any kind will be cause for noting IP addresses for identification purposes.
Please conduct yourself accordingly.