Two Nebraska Judges were presented with the Supreme Court’s highest honor of the Judicial Branch. Workers’ Compensation Court Judge Laureen Van Norman was given the Service to the Community Award and Red Willow County Court Judge Anne Paine was given the Service to the Judiciary Award by Chief Justice Mike Heavican.
The awards, designed to recognize members of the judiciary for meritorious projects and exemplary accomplishments, were presented Wednesday, October 24, 2012, in Omaha, Nebraska.
Judge Van Norman was awarded Distinguished Judge for Service to the Community for her extended efforts to provide safe, dignified access to all participants in the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court process, in addition to her efforts toward improvement of the entire Nebraska judicial system.
As Presiding Judge of the Compensation Court, Van Norman is considered the driving force in identifying, developing, and moving the Lincoln Workers’ Compensation Court into Americans with Disability (ADA) compliant facilities. The courtroom was recently moved from the State Capitol’s tower to its new, permanent home at 1010 Lincoln Mall, across the street to the east of the City-County Building.
During the presentation of her award, Chief Justice Heavican remarked, “Having made hundreds of trips in and out of the State Capitol, up and down the elevators, Judge Van Norman knows all too well that her court was difficult to reach, even under the best of conditions. Workers’ Compensation Court participants were required to park nearly a city block away from the Capitol building, were only able to use one of the four entrances, and had to navigate narrow doorways and uneven thresholds when trying to conduct business with the Court.”
Van Norman currently serves on the Supreme Court’s Implementation Committee on Pro Se Litigation, Technology Committee and Judicial Branch Education Advisory Committee. She is a regular participant in the Chief Justice’s annual judicial branch leadership meetings.
Judge Paine earned the Distinguished Judge for Service to the Judiciary award for her many innovative projects, the most recent being a pilot project to improve compliance with court-ordered financial obligations for probationers in criminal cases. Working with Supreme Court staff and the National Center for State Courts, Paine involved the her fellow judges and local court employees in designing an automated text-message and email system to notify offenders of upcoming payment obligations and court dates.
Judge Paine’s efforts have been shared throughout the state with a comparable function developed through the Court’s statewide case management system.
Previously, just after the start of her judicial career, Judge Paine was presented the 2009 Child Champion Award at the Nebraska Children’s Summit, when she was recognized as an individual with particular dedication and service in improving the court system for children.
Paine currently serves on the Supreme Court Commission on Children in the Courts and the Juvenile Case Progression Standards Committee. She is Lead Judge for the 11th Judicial District Eyes of the Child Team – 3, and serves on the “Centralization” Committee of the Nebraska Court System Reengineering Committee.
In presenting the awards, Chief Justice Heavican thanked both judges for their dedication to the legal profession and their communities.