1992 – present
Judge of the Nebraska Court of Appeals, 4th Judicial District
(Douglas and Sarpy Counties)
1998 - 2004
Chief Judge of the Nebraska Court of Appeals
1990 – 1992
Chief Criminal Sarpy County Attorney - Papillion, NE
1981 – 1990
Deputy Sarpy County Attorney - Papillion, NE
1977 – 1981
Private Practice Attorney - Omaha, NE
In 1991, after 15 years as a prosecutor and private practitioner, Judge Irwin was appointed by former Senator Ben Nelson, then Governor Nelson, as one of the original six members of the Nebraska Court of Appeals; serving as Chief Judge from 1998 through 2004; and, being elected President of the Council Of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal in 2004. His interest and activity are in the areas of court reform, access to the courts, judicial education, and the study of implicit bias and its effects on judicial ethics, judicial decision making and the law.
Creighton University School of Law, 1977
University of Nebraska-Omaha, 1974
Bachelor of Arts
Judicial / Law Related Activities
Supreme Court of the United States
American Bar Association
Nebraska Bar Association
Omaha Bar Association
Sarpy County Bar Association (1st President)
Creighton University School of Law
Omaha, NE, 2005 – Present
Since 2008, a Faculty Fellow for the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center involved in research and scholarship on projects related to the law and judicial system, improving the law and judicial system, and more meaningful participation in governmental processes.
Implicit Bias Testimony: An Emerging Frontier of Expert Opinion Testimony under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Still Unexplored in Nebraska; Honorable John F. Irwin, Daniel L. Real, and Ruth A. Hargens Horvatich,(Publisher Pending 2013).
Judicial Independence and Retention Votes; Hon. John F. Irwin & Daniel L. Real, Judicial Independence and Retention Votes, The Nebraska Lawyer (January 2011)
New Processes Designed to Dispose of Your Appeals in One Year or Less; Hon. John F. Irwin & Hon. Richard D. Sievers, The Nebraska Lawyer (January 2011)
Unconscious Influences on Judicial Decision-Making: The Illusion of Objectivity; Hon. John F. Irwin & Daniel L. Real, Unconscious Influences on Judicial Decision-Making: The Illusion of Objectivity, 43 McGeorge Law Review 1 (2010)
The Illusion of Objectivity; Hon. John F. Irwin, The Nebraska Lawyer (September 2010)
Fostering Judicial Independence: Seeking to Improve the Retention Vote Phase of an Appointive Selection System, Hon. John F. Irwin & Daniel L. Real, 34 Ford. Urb, L.J. 453 (2007)
Thoughts About Enriching Judicial Independence by Improving the Retention Vote Phase of Appointive Selection Systems, Hon. John F. Irwin & Daniel L. Real, 43 Court Rev. 60 (2006)
Tradition Not Term Limits, Hon. John F. Irwin, The Nebraska Lawyer (August 2006)
National and State Projects
2012-Present, Nebraska Supreme Court Liaison to the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts, National Center for State Courts, Williamsburg, VA.
2012-Present, Co-Chair of the Nebraska Minority Justice Committee. MJC is a unique statewide collaboration that works to develop and implement just and sustainable policy reforms that will not only improve the system of justice but will also strengthen public trust and confidence in our laws and court system. The Committee is a joint effort of the Nebraska State Bar Association and the Nebraska Supreme Court. From 2000-2012, served as Co-Chair of the Criminal and Juvenile Subcommittee of the Nebraska Supreme Court Minority Justice Committee.
2011-Present, Chair of the Nebraska Supreme Court and Nebraska State Bar Association Joint Committee on Standards for Court Appointed Counsel. The goal is to develop proposed rules establishing a transparent and systematic process of court appointments and minimum qualifications for attorneys providing legal representation to all eligible persons entitled to court-appointed counsel by state or federal constitution or by statute.
2012-National Chair of the 24th Annual Meeting of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts.
2011 –Present, Nebraska State Chair of the iCivics Project (National Chair Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor).
2005-2006, Co-Chair of the Council of Chief Judges National Campaign to Establish Affiliation with the National Center for State Courts, with Co-Chair, Presiding Justice Arthur Scotland California 3rd District Court of Appeal.
Strategic Planning Facilitation
2009-Pennsylvania Inter-Branch Commission for Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Fairness. Pittsburgh, PA, (Phase Two)
2008-Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Fairness. Pittsburgh, PA, (Phase One)
2008-Executive Committee of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. Seattle, WA
2008-NSBA House of Delegates Strategic Planning Project.
2008 -2012, Chair of theCouncil of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal Long Range Planning Committee.
2007-2008, Chair of the Nebraska Appellate Courts’ Long Range Planning Steering Committee.
Speeches and Presentations
2011-Nebraska State Bar Association Continuing Legal Education: Workers Compensation Section Seminar.
2011-Keynote Speaker for the Omaha Bar Association’s Memorial Service, Omaha City/County Legislative Chambers.
2011-University of Nebraska Law and Psychology Visiting Scholar Program, Evolving Issues in Discrimination: Social Science and Legal Perspectives.
2011-Creighton University School of Law, Complex Issues in Juvenile Court Law III.
2011-Nebraska State Bar Association Annual Meeting, Nebraska Judicial Branch Education, New Technology: Training More with Less.
2011-Nebraska State Bar Association Annual Meeting, Practice and Procedure Committee, Practice & Procedure Essentials for Trial & Appeal.
2010-University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, Capital Center for Public Law & Policy, Judicial Ethics and Accountability: At Home and Abroad: The Ethical Judge and Implicit Bias.
2009-ABA 14th Annual Appellate Practice Institute. Chicago, IL
2007-Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal; Leading Beyond Theory. New Orleans, LA
2007-National Foundation for Judicial Excellence, E-Discovery and Spoliation on Appeal: The Convergence of Law and Technology, Chicago, IL
2007-Robert Spire Inns of Court, Oral Advocacy, co-presentation with Judge William Riley, 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Omaha, NE
2006-Fordham Law School, New York City; Rethinking Judicial Selection: A Critical Appraisal of Appointive Selection for State Court Judges, New York, NY
2006-Silencing the Court: Judicial Impartiality v. Free Speech, a Mock Supreme Court Argument, American Bar Association, Annual Meeting, Honolulu, HI
2006-Judicial Ethics, Chataqua, Iowa Bench/Bar Conference, Okoboji, IA
2004-Advanced Issues in Domestic Relations Law, University of Nebraska School of Law, Lincoln, NE
2013-2017, Nebraska State Bar Association Executive Council Representative for the Fourth Supreme Court District.
2001-2012, Chair of the Nebraska Supreme Court Judicial Branch Education Committee.
2001-2012, Chair/Officer/Director of the Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal.
2000-2012, Co-Chair of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Subcommittee of the Nebraska Supreme Court Minority Justice Committee.
2007-2009, Steering Committee Member of the 14th ABA Appellate Practice Institute. Chicago, IL
2005-2012, Co-Chair of the Nebraska Appellate Judges’ Spring Education Meetings.
2005-2007, Secretary of the American Bar Association Appellate Judge’s Conference.
2005–2007, Chair of the American Bar Association Appellate Judge’s Conference (AJC) Bylaws Committee.
2004-2005, President of the Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal.
1998-2006 & 2012, Member of the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.
1999-2004, Co-Chair of the Nebraska Supreme Court Technology Committee.
2000-2004, Judicial Member of the Robert Spire Inns of Court.