Supreme Court Recognition Program

Supreme Court Recognition Program

Individuals wishing to nominate another individual who has contributed to improving the quality of court operations or service to the public should complete a nomination form for the specific category in which the individual is nominated. Only nominations submitted along with an Official Nomination Form will be accepted (see Nomination Procedure for details). Additionally, a prepared written narrative must accompany the nomination form. The recipients of these awards will receive a memento commemorating the award and a cash award. (Please note that all cash awards are taxable.)

Please feel free to contact the Administrative Office of the Courts/Probation for information regarding any facet of the Annual Supreme Court Recognition Program.

General Information

Award Categories

Honorees will be chosen in the following categories. Click on each category for a description of eligibility requirements and the current recipient. Nomination form.

Outstanding Trial or Appellate Court Personnel

Outstanding Trial or Appellate Court Personnel
Outstanding Trial or Appellate Court Personnel

Eligibility: This category recognizes exemplary performance by a staff person serving in any office of the district, juvenile, county, or appellate court in the Nebraska Judicial System. The staff person's accomplishments or suggestions can be exhibited either through a sustained work and productivity record of exceptional efficiency, superior performance and dedication over at least a one-year period, or through an exceptional task. The accomplishments must be beyond normal expectations. 

Cash award: $250

Current Recipient: Jackie Hladik began her service to the Nebraska Supreme Court in September 1984 when she was hired as the Administrative Assistant for Justice C. Thomas White.  When Justice White was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1995, Jackie assumed the additional duties associated with being the Administrative Assistant to the Chief Justice.  Upon Chief Justice White’s retirement, Jackie was hired by Chief Justice John Hendry to serve as his Administrative Assistant.  During that time it was reported that Chief Justice Hendry remarked that if Jackie left her employment with the Court he would follow her out the door.  That is an example of how justices have relied on her assistance.  When Chief Justice Hendry retired, Jackie was hired by our current Chief Justice Mike Heavican.  Once again, Jackie provided continuity that allowed the office to transition smoothly to new leadership.

Jackie continues to display exemplary performance throughout her 31 years of service to the Nebraska Supreme Court. 

Outstanding Probation Office Support Staff Employee (The Jean Miller Memorial Award)

Outstanding Probation Office Support Staff Employee (The Jean Miller Memorial Award)
Outstanding Probation Office Support Staff Employee (The Jean Miller Memorial Award)

Eligibility: This category recognizes exemplary performance by any probation support staff employee in the Nebraska Judicial System. The employee’s accomplishments or suggestions can be exhibited either through a sustained work and productivity record of exceptional efficiency, superior performance and dedication over at least a one-year period, or through an exceptional task. The accomplishments must be beyond normal expectations. 

Cash award: $250

Current Recipient: Danielle Graybill has served as the District 5 Office Manager for the past 3.5 years.  Danielle is responsible for the care, maintenance and inventories of 5 fully staffed offices across the district in addition to 6 satellite offices sustained in the remaining courthouses served by District 5.  She monitors a $240,000 budget, records for 48 employees, and is the direct supervisor for 9 clerical staff.

Danielle handles the orientation process for the district, the new hire process, is the District 5 Training Coordinator, orders and tracks all District 5 technological equipment, helps staff with technology issues and helps to write and track the District 5 IT Plan. 

Danielle has also helped move several offices since has she been the Office manager including offices in Boone, Butler, Colfax, Hamilton, Polk, Saunders, Seward, York, and the latest and biggest undertaking in Platte County. With close to 30 staff moving from four different locations to one building, it was an enormous undertaking. There were numerous challenges with phone and internet issues, security details, supplies and furniture needs just to name a few.  Danielle handled these challenges while keeping the office open for business throughout the move.

Danielle sits on the Public Relations Committee for Nebraska Probation and helps with public relations at a state-wide level.  In addition, she is a member of the Orientation Committee and was a key player in the development of the current Orientation program.

While juggling all of these additional duties Danielle continues to go above and beyond on a daily basis to ensure that the entire district has what it needs to be successful and serve its clients, staff and stakeholders.

Outstanding Probation Officer Award ( Ladonna Snell Memorial Award)

Outstanding Probation Officer Award ( Ladonna Snell Memorial Award)
Outstanding Probation Officer Award ( Ladonna Snell Memorial Award)

Eligibility: This category recognizes exemplary performance by a Probation Officer. The employee’s accomplishments or suggestions can be exhibited either through a sustained work and productivity record of exceptional efficiency, superior performance and dedication over at least a one-year period, or through an exceptional task. The accomplishments must be beyond normal expectations.

Cash award: $250

Current Ricipient: Jeff Banholzer came to District 5 Probation in July of 2010 and has become a leader in that district.  Jeff began as a Drug Tech with Probation and has worked in Districts 7, 8, and 5.  Jeff was a Juvenile Probation Officer in Columbus and eventually transitioned to the adult system.  He quickly adapted to an adult high-risk caseload and has evolved into a leader in the supervision of CBI clients because of his ability to hold clients accountable while forming appropriate relationships with them, utilizing flexibility as needed, engaging them in their treatment services and utilizing empathy in his approach.

Jeff’s peers have come to look at him as a leader in the district because of his knowledge and skills.  Because of his understanding of substance abuse and his ability to create successful outcome with his clients, Jeff was promoted to a Specialized Substance Abuse Supervision Probation Officer in October of 2014.

 Jeff’s success with his clients became apparent to all when one of Jeff’s clients was interviewed by the local newspaper in Columbus. His story is a story of addiction, and was entitled, “Overcoming Addition One Day at a Time “and was published in the Columbus Telegram in January of 2015.  He credits Jeff for helping him through the process to sobriety by “standing by him” and believing in him.

Jeff was recognized in May of 2015 by the MADD organization, winning the Outstanding Team award for his contributions in preventing impaired driving through his work with substance abusing clients.

Jeff has become a mentor within the district, helping new probation officers to enhance their skill levels.  New staff members always describe Jeff as willing to help them with any questions that they have and available to assist them with any situation needed. He also works with drug techs across the district to work on finding ways to improve District 5’s Drug testing program.

Jeff’s hard work, dedication, compassion and his team player mentality has truly made Columbus and surrounding communities a safer place to live through the rehabilitation of clients and collaboration with stakeholders.

Outstanding Court Supervisor/Administrative Employee

Outstanding Court Supervisor/Administrative Employee
Outstanding Court Supervisor/Administrative Employee

Eligibility: This category recognizes exemplary performance by a supervisor, or administrative employee (i.e., Clerk Magistrate, Judicial Administrator, Division Manager, or State Court Administrative or Appellate Office employee, etc.) in the Nebraska Judicial System. The employee’s accomplishments or suggestions can be exhibited either through a sustained work and productivity record of exceptional efficiency, superior performance and dedication over at least a one-year period, or through an exceptional task. The accomplishments must be beyond normal expectations. Nominees in this category may exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Demonstrate exemplary leadership, providing a sense of purpose, vision and mission for their co-workers and/or staff.
  • Positively influence others to build consensus around departmental or organizational objectives.
  • Manage and lead change initiatives smoothly and effectively.
  • Achieve sustainable results.
  • Invest time and effort in coaching and/or mentoring.


Cash award: $250

Outstanding Probation Supervisor (The Bob Keller Memorial Award)

Outstanding Probation Supervisor (The Bob Keller Memorial Award)
Outstanding Probation Supervisor (The Bob Keller Memorial Award)

Eligibility: This category recognizes exemplary performance by a probation supervisor. The employee’s accomplishments or suggestions can be exhibited either through a sustained work and productivity record of exceptional efficiency, superior performance and dedication over at least a one-year period, or through an exceptional task. The accomplishments must be beyond normal expectations. Nominees in this category may exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Demonstrate exemplary leadership, providing a sense of purpose, vision and mission for their co-workers and/or staff.
  • Positively influence others to build consensus around departmental or organizational objectives.
  • Manage and lead change initiatives smoothly and effectively.
  • Achieve sustainable results.
  • Invest time and effort in coaching and/or mentoring

Cash award: $250

Outstanding Clerk of the District Court (Marjorie Schaffer Memorial Award)

Outstanding Clerk of the District Court (Marjorie Schaffer Memorial Award)
Outstanding Clerk of the District Court (Marjorie Schaffer Memorial Award)

Eligibility: This category recognizes exemplary performance by a clerk of a district court. The clerk's accomplishments or suggestions can be exhibited either through a sustained work and productivity record of exceptional efficiency, superior performance and dedication over at least a one-year period, or through an exceptional task. The accomplishments must be beyond normal expectations. Nominees in this category may exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Demonstrate exemplary leadership, providing a sense of purpose, vision and mission for their co-workers and/or staff.
  • Positively influence others to build consensus around departmental or organizational objectives.
  • Manage and lead change initiatives smoothly and effectively.
  • Achieve sustainable results.
  • Invest time and effort in coaching and/or mentoring

Cash award: $250

Current Recipient: Janet Wiechelman was elected in November 1990 as Clerk of the District Court in Cedar County.  She has served as the legislative liaison for the Nebraska Clerks of District Court Association since 2008.   She also served as an officer for the Association from 2002 through 2004.  Janet spends numerous hours each year going through the legislative bills and issues that affect the duties of the Clerks of the District Court and their offices.  She has made many trips to Lincoln to testify before the Nebraska Legislature on bills relating to the judicial system.  She also communicates with the offices of the Nebraska Association of County Officials and the State Court Administrator to obtain their input on judicial legislative issues.  Throughout this year and her entire career, Janet has exemplified what it means to go above and beyond her duties in the workplace.  She is a great asset to the office of Clerk of the District Court and to the Nebraska Clerks of District Court Association.

Outstanding Customer Service

Outstanding Customer Service
Outstanding Customer Service

Eligibility: In addition to meeting the general criteria, nominated employees will be recognized annually for implementing creative and effective programs that improve customer service to external and/or internal court/probation customers. The employee’s individual skills in providing excellent customer service will also be considered. Examples of characteristics of individuals nominated in the category are:

  • Maintain a consistently high quality of service to external and internal customers.
  • Anticipate clients' needs and potential problems.
  • Serve as role models to others through positive interactions.
  • Demonstrate a willingness to fill in whenever needed and always perform at a high level

Cash award: $250

Innovation Award

Innovation Award
Innovation Award

Eligibility: In addition to meeting the general criteria, nominees for the innovation award will be evaluated on a second set of criteria that specifically evaluates the contribution of effectiveness, efficiency, or economy to the Nebraska Judicial System operations. The set of criteria may include:

  • Cost effectiveness of the suggestion, especially as it will relate to the entire Judicial System.
  • Administrative improvements which enhance the delivery of services.
  • Enhancement of morale or working conditions within the Branch.
  • Suggested improvements, which relate to the quality of justice.
  • Elimination of duplicative or non-essential procedures, paperwork, and programs

Cash award: $250

Diversity Leadership Award

Diversity Leadership Award
Diversity Leadership Award

Eligibility: In addition to meeting the general criteria, nominated employees will be evaluated for exceptional efforts to promote diversity within the Judicial Branch. Considerations for this category may include:

  • Foster awareness, continuous education and communication efforts to showcase diversity initiatives.
  • Exhibit disciplined efforts to learn, talk about and measure impacts of diversity.
  • Establishment of programs or policies that reflect the importance of workplace diversity.
  • Promote an inclusive, high-performing culture where all team members embrace each others' talents and backgrounds.
  • Demonstrate an ability to educate others on how to build diverse people skills.
  • Show an openness to learn about the differences and to express respect and appreciation of differences


Cash award: $250

Outstanding Team Award

Outstanding Team Award
Outstanding Team Award

Eligibility: This category recognizes exemplary performance by a team in any judicial office in the Nebraska Judicial System. The team’s accomplishments may be exhibited through a sustained work and productivity record of exceptional efficiency and superior performance. Members of the outstanding team should:

  • Participate in collaborative problem-solving.
  • Break down boundaries and/or create new relationships to improve work processes.

Promote a work environment that is collegial, supportive, and characterized by positive morale.
Cash award: $100/member of team, up to 10 members. If team consists of more than 10 members, the team will split equally a cash award of $1,000.

Employee of the Year

Employee of the Year
Employee of the Year

Eligibility: In addition to meeting the general criteria below, one employee will be recognized annually for performance, professionalism, loyalty and other accomplishments that exemplify the values and professional standards of the Judicial Branch in daily work. An individual nominated for the Employee of the Year award should demonstrate many of the following characteristics:

  • Approach problems as opportunities for learning and growth.
  • Take a proactive and innovative approach toward finding solutions to business and workplace challenges.
  • Take the initiative to improve the value and efficiency of the services he/she provides.
  • Take initiative to solve problems and improve work situations without being prompted.
  • Is reliable, persevering and results-oriented.
  • Consistently goes above and beyond.

Cash award: $500