Thursday, June 11, 2015

Odds Good For 2nd Female Justice on Nebraska Supreme Court

There is a three-out-of-four chance the next addition to the Nebraska Supreme Court will be a woman. 

 That’s notable because in the courts 160 year history there has been only one female justice on the state’s highest court.

Four applicants put their names before the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission to replace retiring Justice Kenneth Stephan. The commission meets July 1 to consider the applicants qualifications before making a recommendation to Governor Pete Ricketts.

The applicants are:

  • Gary Young, a specialist in labor law, clerked at the state Supreme Court before joining the firm of Keating O’Gara.
  •  Judge Riko Bishop was appointed to the Nebraska Court of Appeals in 2013. She got her law degree as a second career following work as a public school English teacher.
  • Amie Martinez currently serves as president of the Nebraska Bar Association. She is a private practice attorney listing criminal defense and appellate law among her practice areas.
  • Judge Stephanie Stacy was appointed to serve as a District Court judge by Governor Dave Heineman in 2011 after 18 years in private practice of law. Her ruling which block progress on the Keystone XL pipeline attracted international attention.
Honorable Lindsey Miller-Lerman

Supreme Court openings are rare. In ten years Governor Heineman only appointed two. 

Justice Lindsey Miller-Lerman remains the first and only woman to serve on the Nebraska Supreme Court. That bit of history occurred in 1998 when she was selected by Governor Ben Nelson. 

At the time of her appointment she downplayed the significance of breaking the all-male hold on the high court. The World-Herald reported Justice Miller-Lerman, said of her appointment: "I've approached the application process on the basis of merit, and being female is merely another fact in my profile."