Distinguished Judge Awards Presented to Judges Hall and Burdick

Distinguished Judge Awards Presented to Judges Hall and Burdick

Friday, October 16, 2020

Judge Kale Burdick of the county court in O’Neill and Judge Geoffrey Hall of the district court in Fremont were announced as 2020’s Distinguished Judge award recipients by Chief Justice Mike Heavican. 

During his morning address to Nebraska judges on October 16, 2020, Heavican noted that Burdick is the recipient of the Improvement of Community Relations Award, and Hall is given the Improvement of the Judicial System Award. The awards recognize members of the judiciary for meritorious projects and exemplary accomplishments beyond their day-to-day duties as a judge. The title of Distinguished Judge is the highest honor given to judges by the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Improvement of the Judicial System: Judge Geoffrey Hall

As Presiding Judge of the District Six Adult Drug Court, Judge Geoffrey Hall does not accept the status quo, and frequently challenges the drug court team to develop new and unique ways to assist the participants. He is laser-focused on the participant’s success in life, as well as success in drug court.

When Hall sees drug court participants who are struggling to find a career, unable to budget or struggling to overcome the challenges of physical or health problems, he identifies available resources in Dodge County to help. He regularly challenges his drug court team to engage with the community and access resources needed to address unique issues. His consistent message is sobriety, with an emphasis on engaging in a complete lifestyle change. The development of a positive attitude goes hand-in-hand with developing new ways for participants to engage in their community and improve their daily life.

Hall is a leader in Nebraska’s drug court and problem-solving court programs and also in Dodge County. When presented with challenges, Hall finds solutions. Because of his leadership, the Dodge County Drug Court has become the gold standard for problem-solving courts.

Following a presentation on Hall successes, the Chief Justice noted, “Judge Hall obviously exemplifies what it means to be a judge who has improved the judicial system through his many good works.”

Service to the Community & Improvement of Community Relations: Judge Kale Burdick

When Judge Kale Burdick was appointed to the bench in 2017, he returned to the O’Neill area and immediately became actively involved in the community.

Most notably, Burdick joined the O’Neill Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, where he achieved Fire Fighter 1 certification and the Hazmat Operational Level certification. In 2019, Judge Burdick served as Aerial Captain and, in 2020, was named the City Captain. He currently responds to well over 50% of the fire and emergency rescue calls. He and his family can be found at the fire hall cleaning trucks and working on various jobs requiring attention on any given evening.

Burdick is an American Legion baseball umpire and participates in other child-focused activities in the community ranging from hydrant water parties to volunteering at back-to-school events. It is not uncommon for community members to warmly comment on Judge Burdick’s commitment to the area residents.

In remarking on Burdick’s friendly, welcoming demeanor, Chief Justice Heavican noted that Burdick “is a great example of judges who go the extra mile not only in their courtrooms but in their communities.”

Chief Justice Heavican closed his awards presentation, making note of the difficulties brought about by the pandemic. He extended his thanks to all Nebraska judges saying, “The entire Supreme Court is so pleased with the way that all of you picked up the ball and kept the courts open and the way that you are providing access to justice for everybody in the State of Nebraska. Good work to you.”