The effort to retain a fourth district court judge in the panhandle’s 12th judicial district and continue to have that person located in Scotts Bluff County gained a major victory last week when it received Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Heavican’s support.
Heavican said he would make the recommendation to retain the second judgeship in Scotts Bluff County and not move it to the eastern end of the state when the Nebraska Judicial Resources Commission meets June 27th to consider whether to fill the vacancy created by District Judge Randy Lippstreu’s retirement and where it should be located.
The statement followed a presentation last week by Scotts Bluff County District Judge Leo Dobrovolny and local attorneys Howard Olsen and Paul Snyder during a conference call with the State Bar Association’s Judicial Resources Committee.
The Judicial Resources Committee indicated it would also make a positive recommendation to keep the judgeship in Scotts Bluff County.
When Judge Randy Lippstreu retired in February, the Scotts Bluff County Bar Association knew they needed to battle to keep the judgeship in the panhandle because of several previous efforts to move vacant judgeships to the east, particularly the Omaha area.
The argument by the panhandle law community has always been the distances between communities, the heavy workload in Scotts Bluff County, and the need to retain adequate judicial access for all citizens made it necessary to have a fourth judge in the 12th Judicial District and to have two located in Gering.
Since Lippstreu’s retirement, Judge Dobrovolny, Judge Derek Weimer and Judge Travis O’Gorman have been traveling throughout the district to rule on cases. Dobrovolny, Olsen and Snyder argued last week despite the judges’ best efforts they are just barely keeping ahead of the criminal docket, while civil cases have virtually come to a halt.