Douglas County Court Judge Susan Bazis was awarded Distinguished Judge for Service to the Community and the Judges of the Nebraska Court of Appeals were awarded Distinguished Judge for Service to the Judiciary on Thursday, October 20, 2011. The awards, presented by Chief Justice Mike Heavican, are the highest honor given by the Nebraska Supreme Court recognizing members of the judiciary for meritorious projects and exemplary accomplishments that enhance the vision of justice within Nebraska communities.
In presenting Judge Bazis with her award, Chief Justice Heavican stated, “In the summer of 2010, I placed a call to Judges Susan Bazis, Todd Hutton and Curtis Evans to lead a comprehensive review of the statutes, court rules and procedures used by judges and attorneys involved in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings across the state. Judge Bazis distinguished herself by taking a leadership role in this endeavor – above and beyond what any of us would have anticipated.”
Taking a central role with a committee of judges, senators and attorneys, Judge Bazis successfully developed new Guardian and Conservator procedures intended to protect the interests of vulnerable citizens within Nebraska communities.
Judge Bazis volunteered countless hours to the Guardian/Conservator project while continuing with her responsibilities as presiding judge for the Douglas County Court and managing her extensive caseload. Throughout the development process she endorsed an open and thorough dialogue of the real-world effects that systemic changes may have on the interests of guardians, conservators and wards. Her goal is intended to increase the checks and balances of the court system in order to promote greater transparency and provide the increased security for wards of the court.
According to fellow Guardian Conservator Committee members, Judge Bazis far exceeded her call to serve. Judge Susan Bazis joined the Douglas County Court in 2007 and currently serves as the Presiding Judge of the 4th Judicial District for County Court.
The 2011 Distinguished Judge for Service to the Judiciary was presented to the Judges of the Nebraska Court of Appeals, both past and present, on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Court.
In 1990, the Nebraska Legislature proposed a constitutional amendment to create an intermediate Court of Appeals. In November 1990, the voters of the State of Nebraska approved the amendment, and the Court of Appeals was established on September 6, 1991.
The Nebraska Court of Appeals is the state's intermediate appellate court. There are currently six judges, who sit in panels or divisions of three judges each. The task of the Court of Appeals is to provide the citizens of Nebraska with clear, impartial and timely resolution of appealed orders and judgments as provided by law. There have been 12 Court of Appeals judges in the 20-year history of the court. The original judges include John F. Wright, William M. Connolly, and Lindsey Miller-Lerman who have since moved to the Nebraska Supreme Court; John F. Irwin and Richard D. Sievers, who remain on the Court; and Judge Edward E. Hannon, who retired from the bench.
Judges later added to the Court of Appeals roster include: Wesley C. Mues and Theodore L. Carlson, each of whom died during his term as judge; and William B. Cassel, Everett O. Inbody, Frankie J. Moore, and Michael W. Pirtle who currently serve on the Court of Appeals.
In presenting the awards, Chief Justice Heavican thanked all Nebraska judges for their dedication to the legal profession and their communities.
2011 Distinguished Judge for Service to the Community: Susan Bazis Photo: Judges of Nebraska Guardian Conservator reform team: Curtis Evans, Susan Bazis and Todd Hutton
Distinguished Judge for Service to the Judiciary: Judges of the Nebraska Court of Appeals Photo: (Left to Right) Judge John F. Irwin, retired Judge Edward E. Hannon, Judge William B. Cassel, Chief Judge Everett O. Inbody, Justice Lindsey Miller-Lerman; Judge Frankie J. Moore, Judge Richard D. Sievers, Deb Carlson (widow of Judge Carlson), Judge Michael W. Pirtle. Not pictured: John F. Wright, William M. Connolly, Nebraska Supreme Court; Wesley C. Mues and Theodore L. Carlson, deceased.