Supreme Court Recognition Program Prior Recipients

Supreme Court Recognition Program Prior Recipients

2015

2015
2015

Outstanding Trial or Appellate Court Employee

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. 


Innovation Award

Carrie Rodriguez has served as the Deputy Chief Probation Officer in District 5 for the past 3.5 years and has helped transition this district into a positive force for change and excellence in Nebraska Probation.

Carrie has implemented creative ways to get the best out of others within the district.  She initiated several activities and events over the past year to improve staff morale, performance and unity.  In November 2014, Carrie developed and implemented a training around the Gallup Strength Finder Assessment, compiling the top 5 strengths for each employee within the district and created ingenious activity at the all-district staff meetings, tying all strengths into a meaningful experience for all participants. The activity engaged everyone in learning and sharing strengths as they relate to job assignments and outcomes within the system.  Staff learned a great deal about themselves and their co-workers.

For the past two summers, Carrie designed and orchestrated the District 5 Walk-Run for staff and stake holders which recognized and acknowledged Probation and Parole staff in Nebraska and how they serve individuals, families and communities.  This included a two mile traipse around Lake North in Columbus and received excellent press coverage and support for the work we do in community corrections.

This past spring, Carrie led the committee which developed the agenda for a two- day strategic planning event for District 5 employees at Timberlake Camp.  The event included guest speakers around substance abuse and recovery, team building exercises, EBP training and staff development.  Staff were energized and invigorated regarding their service to Nebraska courts, communities and behavior change and grew in their positions and professional relationships.

Carrie is committed to making our system and its employees the best we can be to guarantee the best outcomes for clients and communities.  She approaches public service with a head for business and results.


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

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 Court Supervisor / Administrative Employee

Darla Schiefelbein, in addition to serving as Clerk Magistrate of the Platte County Court,has taken on numerous responsibilities in the area of Guardianship/Conservatorships which carry a statewide effect.  Darla is the only Magistrate who serves on the 11 member Advisory Council on Public Guardianship.  The council advises the Public Guardian on the administration of public guardianship and public conservatorships. The Public Guardian is a new concept in Nebraska requiring a certain dedication and time consuming efforts to establish a working office.

Darla also serves on the Supreme Court Commission on Guardianships and Conservatorships. The purpose of this Commission is to engage in continuing analysis and study of statutes, court rules, and court procedures relating to guardianships and conservatorships. 

In addition, Darla assists two other county courts with guardianships/ conservatorship cases.  This work entails on-line examination of reports and annual accountings filed by guardians or conservators to assure that the funds for which they are responsible are properly applied.

Finally, Darla serves as an Extra Duty Specialist for court staff across the state and for specific counties for which she is responsible. She is available to answer specific questions court staff or the public might have with regard to guardianship or conservatorship cases.

 In addition to all of these extra duties, Darla maintains her Clerk Magistrate duties of the Platte County Court supervising six staff members.


Outstanding Customer Service Award

Johnny Blackburn was nominated for his outstanding customer service and his efficient, intelligent and exemplary service as an Accounting Clerk in the Douglas County Court’s Criminal Traffic Division.

Johnny has assisted with inquiries pertaining to payment issues such as adjusting receipts, transferring payments into the correct case and tracing funds. It is reported that when working with Johnny his can-do positive attitude sets him apart from others and he assists quickly and efficiently with every step of any financial process question.  Johnny is described as dependable and truly ready to give his full attention to detail that is required for successful completion of the financial issues under consideration.  He even apologizes when he is gone for the day or doesn’t get back to an inquiry within the hour.

Johnny brings to his job a high degree of energy, commitment, flexibility and professional conduct.  His reliability, positive attitude and dedication to the job have a great impact on the court system and he is the kind of employee that helps make us all look good by truly understanding and demonstrating the meaning of Outstanding Customer Service.


Outstanding Probation Employee (Jean Miller Memorial Award for Probation Support Staff)

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.


Diversity Leadership Award

Adriana Hinojosa has worked as a Spanish language interpreter in the Nebraska court system for ten years and in 2013 she was hired as one of the first Statewide Interpreter Coordinators for the judicial branch.  During that time, she has distinguished herself as a champion for diversity and through her efforts and leadership she has helped the judicial branch become more welcoming and open to diverse communities.

Playing an essential role in the success of the court interpreter program, Adriana used her skills at recruiting and nurturing new interpreter candidates resulting in increasing the number of highly qualified registered and certified interpreters.  She routinely reaches out to refugee groups and minority communicates and serves as a member of the Omaha Refugee Task Force. Participating in job fairs and other recruiting events she actively works to attract bi-lingual employees and interpreters to the judicial branch.

Adriana is a contributing member of the Nebraska Supreme Court’s Interpreter Advisory Committee and regularly assists with interpreter training and testing.

Through her exceptional efforts, Adriana Hinojosa has promoted and improved diversity within the Nebraska judicial branch.


Employee of the Year

Gary Dietrich has served as a Juvenile Probation Officer since 1965.  Gary has carried out probation duties supervising a caseload, overseeing an intake unit, conducting presentence investigations and all other duties as assigned.  Over the years, Gary has trained just about every probation officer, county attorney, defense attorney, law enforcement officer and judge in Douglas County juvenile court in the ‘art of juvenile intake.’

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, as Chief of the intake probation unit in Juvenile Court, Gary brought in law students to assist with probation intake.  He instituted ‘ledger books’ to document intakes and decisions made by the staff and stakeholders.  He trained law enforcement at endless roll calls in police precincts.

Gary has counseled hundreds of youth and parents, and has an extensive network of resources and support to match up the right youth with the right service.  Long before juvenile detention alternative initiatives (JDAI), Gary was correctly identifying which kids needed to be in detention and which ones could go home.

Gary has participated in countless advisory committees, collaborative efforts, task forces and educational sessions to support best practices for juveniles.

Gary is also committed to the community, in volunteering at Radio Talking book every week, and delivering posters that advertise community events such as local and Broadway drama productions, concerts, festivals and summer activities.

Gary Dietrich’s dedication to the youth and families of Douglas County is a wonderful example of living the mission and vision of Nebraska State Probation.


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

Heather Briggs began her career as a clerical staff member in District 4J in September of 2004.  She worked her way up to eventually become a Probation Officer, Treatment Probation Officer and finally to Probation Supervisor in August of 2013.  Heather’s work through the years has included completing pre-disposition investigations, supervision of high-risk youth and acting as a mentor to new officers.

Even prior to obtaining a position within the district’s management team, Heather worked tirelessly to ensure the youth under the district’s supervision were successful.  Over the past eleven years, she has continuously researched best-practices and introduced alternatives to allow youth to remain in the community and at home.  She advocates for these practices and alternatives in regular staffing’s with the officers in this district, during interactions with key stakeholders and in court proceedings.  In doing this, Heather shows a determination to effectuate positive, lasting change with the youth in District 4J.

Since the passage of LB561, Heather has been an integral part of ensuring the success of the district and seamless transition to family centered practice.  She has been a member of a number of statewide committees and was instrumental in the creation of the new pre-disposition investigation format and interview guide.  Additionally, Heather has the ability to view issues or potential barriers at a global level and creates policies and procedures allowing the districts to proactively address the problem.

Heather is a trainer and provides District 4J with annual safety training as well as district new officer training.  Each of these topics require weeks, if not months of planning and preparing in order to offer a quality product.  Her experience and understanding of Probation and the juvenile justice system make Heather a role model others not only rely upon, but strive to resemble.


Outstanding Probation Officer (LaDonna Snell Probation Officer Award)

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 Team

An annual conference is put on each year in July by the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators (CCJ/COSCA).  The location of the conference is selected by a committee and approved by all members of that committee.  Two years ago Omaha, Nebraska was selected as the site for the 2015 summer meeting.  Planning for this meeting is done by the host state with help from the National Center for State Courts.  Each host state must set up activities for spouses, children and guests each day and evening events for all participants.

A team in the Administrative Office of the Courts, Marcie Luhman, Eileen Janssen, Judy Beutler, Carole McMahon-Boies, Jennifer Rasmussen and Ralene Cheng, worked for over a year to successfully put on this conference this past July. From planning large events to the smallest details of the name tags of participants, this group came together several times each month to work on the details. It was this group’s work to highlight the greatness of our state and the city of Omaha.  This group took leadership roles for each of the events during the conference and were on-site prior to the conference for set up and during the entire conference. They greeted and took care of any needs of the participants and their guests throughout the 5 day conference.  There were 47 Chief Justices and 46 Court Administrators in attendance. The largest event was the welcoming dinner at the Lauritzen Gardens with over 225 participants and guests.

The CCJ/COSCA conference could not have been such a great success without these 6 individuals putting in the time, energy and creativeness.  Due to their hard work, it was a huge success and came in under the budgeted amount by the National Center for State Courts.  I could not be more proud of the work that was done and how they highlighted the State of Nebraska.

This group has exemplified what it means to work for a team and to work for the Judicial Branch in Nebraska.

2014

2014
2014

Diversity Leadership Award

Teri Deans has demonstrated her understanding of the importance of responding to a diverse community by encouraging a diverse workforce in the Dawson County Court.  Teri has been with the Dawson County Court for 29 years and has served as Clerk Magistrate since 2009.  She has looked for and has been successful in hiring bilingual employees.  These employees have been used by the entire courthouse by providing assistance to other offices to better serve the public.  We appreciate Teri Dean’s leadership in the Dawson County Court and openness to encourage her employees to learn about and appreciate differences in their community.


Outstanding Team

The Guardianship and Conservatorship Specialists are Cathy Reiman, Clerk Magistrate for Boyd and Rock County Courts, Darla Schiefelbein, Clerk Magistrate in Platte County Court, and Linda Hanak, Records Clerk in Dakota County Court.  This team has been instrumental in the Court’s positive response to the challenges of serving Nebraska’s protected persons.  In November of 2014, a serious problem was identified involving a court-appointed professional guardian. To adequately respond to these concerns, this team spent dozens of hours reviewing JUSTICE printouts and scanned documents for over 1500 cases.  Since then, this team continues to answer questions, provide education on best practices, review guardianship and conservatorship cases for the courts statewide and assists courts in responding to changes in the laws and court rules relating to guardianships. 


Outstanding Trial or Appellate Court Employee

Julie Hurley is an official court reporter in the District Court of Douglas County.  Julie has been a court reporter in the state of Nebraska for 29 years.  In 1985, she began her career with Judge Warren in Creighton, Nebraska.  After moving to Omaha, she has worked with Judges Gittnick, Howard, Spethman and currently Judge Derr. She is past president of the Nebraska Court Reporters Association.  She is co-editor of their publication, The Scribe and serves on committees of their organization. Julie continues to serve many position of leadership in the court reporters state and national organization.  Julie has been described as the “gold standard” of court reporters in not only the state of Nebraska but throughout the United States.  


Employee of the Year

This past year, Linda Leatherman has been assigned the task of educating individuals in the separate juvenile courts and the county courts in Nebraska on accurate statistical data necessary for a coordinated project between the Administrative Office of the Courts and Through the Eyes of the Child.  This data makes grant funds available for juvenile related matters and helps to ensure cases are being processed in a correct and timely manner to facilitate the best possible outcome for children and families who become involved with the court system.  Linda is new to the juvenile world, only taking on the challenge in 2011 as the Douglas Juvenile Court was being stalled with the JUSTICE case management system.  Linda took the initiative to read and study everything she could to better understand the juvenile process. As a result, because of her dedication to this specialty area, she is frequently called upon to act as subject matter expert and spends a great deal of time speaking to groups of trial court personnel, judges and other state agencies. This is going above and beyond her job as Senior District Court Business Analyst where her primary responsibility is answering question through the JUSTICE Help Desk toll free number.  Linda’s kind but professional approach encourages those she works with to do their best to correctly process juvenile cases.  After working with one court and getting their statistics to 75% accuracy, a court employee advised Linda that 75% wasn’t good enough; they wanted to be 100%.  This is the kind of response Linda brings out in those she works with and why her accomplishments deserve the recognition of the 2014 Supreme Court Employee of the Year.


Outstanding Court Supervisor / Administrative Employee

Diona Hartwig has been key to judicial branch education’s court distance learning programs for court employees.  A specific project that she worked on was a curriculum for Guardians ad Litem practicing in juvenile court.  Diona took on the additional task of building a 6-hour course on a new distance learning platform that provided attorneys statewide the ability to take an interactive course that covered the best practices of Guardian ad Litem work.  Her finished course includes working through scenarios of how to represent a child in juvenile court.  She was able to adapt the court report of the Guardian ad Litem into an interactive exercise so all attorneys now have prepared a court report before ever entering a courtroom as a Guardian ad Litem. Her work on adapting the MCLE system to allow an attorney to sign up for a course online and pay by credit card has allowed judicial branch education to build a system allowing for registration, court completion and credit assignment all done online.  Her creativity and hard work is greatly appreciated.


Outstanding Customer Service Award

Dianne Lana has served as Clerk Magistrate for the Scotts Bluff County Court for eleven years.  She is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Customer Service Award.  She presently supervises eight county court support staff and oversees all administrative functions of the court. She regularly deals with questions and concerns from the general public related to the courts.  Dianne’s pleasant personality, professionalism, and ambitious work ethic complement her strong sense of customer service to citizens in the twelfth district.  Recently she was instrumental in consolidating most court services with a neighboring county with a relatively low volume of cases.  She mentors new clerk magistrates whenever needed.  To better serve the public, Dianne’s work includes coordinating and implementing a number of technological improvements including video arraignments, remote court interpreters, improved Docket training for staff and upgrades to hardware throughout the county court.  Dianne is proof that solid character and a positive “can do” attitude go a long way in overcoming challenges to providing efficient court services.


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

Bev Hoagland began her Probation career as a probation officer in the juvenile office in Lincoln on July 1, 1992, and was appointed Chief Deputy in January 2000.  Bev’s work with juveniles throughout the years has included preparing predisposition investigations as well as supervising many youth.  Once Bev moved into management she took on the role of coaching and mentoring new probation officers.  Her nomination reflects:  “…Bev has been steadfast and a continual learner in trying different approaches to connect and cement our mission in the minds of staff.  She never, ever gives up because she knows carrying out the mission will positively impact the direction many youth are headed.  She has worked tirelessly and without complaint because her passion for the juvenile court and juvenile probation knows no limits.”

During the past year, Probation District 3J was faced with many challenges following the passage of LB561.  The office went from a staff of 19 to a staff of 62.  The office needed to “adjust all necessary internal processes to maintain a solid training format, policy compliance, and quality services for youth, families and the court.  During this process, Bev did not miss a beat.  In fact, she rose above.  She was a constant and steady force throughout all the hiring, training and troubleshooting while each piece of legislation was implemented.” 

“Bev handles community meetings…court hearings for officers and troubleshoots any issues with the judges with integrity and a commitment to their concerns.  All four of the judges rely on her to solve issues and work through complicated cases with new or existing staff.”

Her nominator indicates: “She contributes to the Probation mission through committee work and input on policy where her skills and expertise with juveniles is incredibly valuable.  She can create meaningful processes to achieve quality and efficiently in a variety of aspects of our work.”

Bev is an experienced professional and a positive role model to all others in the juvenile office.


Outstanding Probation Officer (LaDonna Snell Probation Officer Award)

Julie Smith is a Specialized Juvenile Probation Officer in Probation District #5 in Seward covering Saunders, Butler and Seward counties.  She began her Probation career in March 2011 as a Probation Officer Trainee in the Seward office after transferring from DHHS where she worked with juveniles and their families for eight years.  Julie was instrumental in helping to educate and create policies statewide following the passing of LB561 as well as to develop, implement and administer statewide training for the family centered practice and case management as part of this legislation.  She serves as a training officer within the district and trains new officers during their first year of employment helping them to understand the Probation and court systems and their role within these systems along with writing presentence investigations and caseload management.

Her nomination indicates that “Julie has excellent relationships with the stakeholders in her area, as well as around the state.  This allows her to work hand-in-hand with her judges, county attorneys and providers in order to provide the best service available to the juvenile at hand.  She helps to find resources and out-of-home placements not only for her juveniles, but for other officers as well.  She fights to keep juveniles out of detention facilities that do not belong there and her relationships with stakeholders allowed her to create agreements with counties in her area in order to utilize shelter, EM and out-of-home placements as detention alternatives.  She helped to develop an intake training for law enforcement approved for statewide use and delivered this training to local law enforcement with the help of her District 5 team members…”

In addition to these duties, Julie also sits on the Saunders County Strategic Planning Committee and the Treatment teams in Seward, Saunders and Butler counties.  She also serves on Probation’s juvenile sub-committee for case management.

Julie assists in all these areas because of her love for juveniles and for the Nebraska State Probation System.  She does these things in addition to managing a high-risk juvenile caseload that includes YRTC and out-of-home placement re-entry juveniles.  She is definitely a team player and her co-workers can count on her to help with an intake if needed or to staff a difficult case.  She has a positive outlook, believes in Nebraska State Probation and fights day in and day out to provide the best service possible for the juveniles that we serve.


Innovation Award

The Innovation Team members are Gene Cotter, Chief Probation Officer in District 3A; Joe Budnick, Chief Probation Officer in District #10, Hastings; Shane Stutzman, Chief Probation Officer in District 5, Columbus; Steve Ortmeier, Chief Deputy Probation Officer in District 6, Fremont; and Julie Micek, Programs and Services Specialist in the Office of Probation Administration.  These individuals were chosen as exemplary leaders within the Nebraska Probation System in 2013 and were given the opportunity to enroll in the American Probation and Parole Association’s (APPA’s) national Leadership Institute.  Through the Institute, this team spent one year learning strategies to enhance their leadership skills.

Each team member developed and initiated statewide projects throughout the Nebraska Probation System.  Gene initiated an Incentives and Sanctions Protocol that focuses on bringing meaningful incentives into focus when working with probationers as well as the smart use of effective sanctioning in order for a probation client to progress behaviorally and attitudinally towards their case plan.  Working jointly with the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Joe initiated videoconferencing technology throughout the Nebraska Probation System.  This allows probation officers and service providers to provide services to clients who may not have services offered in certain areas of the state.  Shane pursued the use of Real Colors programming with our Probation clients.  This program is a personality temperament profile that helps clients better understand themselves and assists the probation officers with their relationships with their clients.  Steve introduced the use of mediation to engage families of juveniles at risk of being removed from their home for behavioral reasons.  This provides the use of unbiased facilitation of family team conferences with high risk probation youth/families.  Julie introduced a Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) for the Nebraska Probation System.  This is a formally organized group of trained employees who provide debriefing functions and spans from pre-crisis preparation through post-crisis intervention and follow-up.

These team members graduated from the American Probation and Parole Association’s (APPA’s) Leadership Institute in August 2014.  The projects of each of these team members focused on a wide range of specific issues, but overall, they focused on three of the most important things in the Nebraska Probation System:  our employees, our clients and smart use of the state’s money in achieving positive change.


Outstanding Probation Employee (Jean Miller Memorial Award for Probation Support Staff)

Linda Zabel exemplifies outstanding performance in many ways.  Her dedication to the Judicial Branch is evident in the many years she served both court and probation administration.  She began her career as a secretary working in the Lancaster County Adult Probation office in February 1981 and was recruited to come work in the Capitol for the Administrative Office of Probation in April 1981. This is Linda’s 33rd year of service with the Office of Probation Administration and her 43rd year of service to the State of Nebraska.  She is the keeper of all our institutional knowledge.

In 2008 Linda was promoted to the position of Administrative Support Specialist wherein she was given oversight of the administrative assistants and other support staff in addition to overseeing the operations of the office.  She serves as event planner, training coordinator, work space engineer, financial specialist, and public relations specialist.  Linda was and is the “go to” person in the Administrative office.  In the field, there is not a Chief Probation Officer or any other employee in the system who doesn’t know to call Linda when they need something.  If per some odd chance Linda doesn’t know the answer, she knows where to get the answer.

Linda sets the standard for achievement.  When, we as administrators set the bar for work performance, she sets it higher.  Her attention to detail is evident in the professional documents she prepares for administrative staff that are sent up to the Court.

Throughout this year and her entire career she exemplifies what it means to go above and beyond in the workplace.  Linda’s humanity and work ethic are obvious each day as she strives to produce an outstanding professional work product while always considering the particular needs and limitations of others.


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

Marjorie Schaffer was an exemplary District Court Clerk.  She demonstrated leadership and provided a sense of purpose, vision and mission for her staff in Madison County.  Her leadership was also felt by clerk magistrates through her membership on the District Court Procedures Manual Committee, Technology Committee and her considerable activity in district court regional and statewide meetings.  Marge was a go-to person for all things district court related.  She provided insight to statutory and court rule references while always delivering a strong dose of humor and support.  Marge acknowledged the numerous challenges of the Clerks of the District Courts in adopting consistent practices and new technologies but through her patience and example, helped to communicate the need for change, building consensus around those objectives which she felt were in the best interest of the courts and their constituents. She was part of the JUSTICE installation team in Omaha and provided incalculable support for neighboring courts and new clerks. Marge managed and led change initiatives smoothly and effectively, achieved sustainable results in her own court, and invested time and effort in coaching and mentoring many. She is missed by all.   

2013

2013
2013

Outstanding Court Supervisor / Administrative Employee

John Dougherty has worked for the Douglas County Court for over 40 years.  As a supervisor of the Probate Division, John has always provided exceptional leadership within this division.  With the new guardianship and conservatorship changes, John took on the challenge of working with the Douglas County Court to implement the new process for the 3000+ guardian/conservator reports that his division handled annually.  He made sure staff understood the changes and has always been available for questions and/or concerns.  In the first year, Douglas County Court had to send corrective action notices out on 100% of the guardianship cases.  This increased the duties of the staff tremendously in addition to their regular workload.  John looked at the situation and figured out how to best address it so the court could get the information needed and still be efficient while keeping staff motivated.  With John’s leadership the division met the challenges. John also worked with the Volunteers Assisting Seniors to develop their support for the court and guardians and conservators. John assisted countless guardians, conservators and attorneys with questions about the new reporting requirements, in addition to being a resource for other courts during implementation.  John retired at the end of last month.  His knowledge of the courts and probate has been invaluable.  He will be missed by his staff, the judges and the public.  John’s work ethic, knowledge and ability to motivate and lead others are attributes the courts would want in all their supervisors. 


Diversity Leadership Award

Ellen Faltys has been with the court system for 25 years and 20 of those years as Clerk Magistrate in the Colfax County Court.  Ellen continues to make multiple contributions to the Nebraska Judicial Branch.  This year Ellen Faltys is being presented the Diversity Leadership Award.  This award recognizes employees for exceptional efforts to promote diversity within the Judicial Branch.  The population of Schuyler, Nebraska, has a predominantly Hispanic population.  The importance of attracting a Spanish speaking employee in the Colfax County Court was recognized by Ellen but she knew she had not seen many applicants with these skills in the past.  This year when Ellen had a vacancy she tried a different approach for recruiting Spanish speaking applicants.  She made copies of the job notice and distributed them to more than 30 local businesses.  As a result, she received several Spanish speaking applicants, all of whom indicated they had heard about the job through one of those notices.  Ellen was successful in hiring a bilingual employee to better serve her community.  This kind of leadership promotes workplace diversity and inclusive service to the public.


Outstanding Customer Service Award

Jody Bousquet has worked in the Sarpy County Court since 2010.  She started as a temporary employee and it was soon recognized that she has fresh energy, was a quick learner and had the desire to serve clients coming to court.  Jody soon accepted a full time position and took on the new challenge of learning Probate including all the new requirements for reports in guardianships and conservatorships.  She continues to convey this knowledge to the many confused and sometimes angry or fearful guardians and conservators as well as attorneys.  She has the ability to do this in terms the public can understand. She is always willing to take their questions or concerns. Jody regularly assures fearful guardians or conservators who are asked to come to court that most likely something needs to be clarified and there is no reason to be anxious about seeing the judge.  Her supervisor has received several comments on how helpful and pleasant Jody is in helping people.     Employees who are recognized for this award are those who anticipate clients’ needs, and serve as role models to others through positive interactions, demonstrate a willingness to fill in whenever needed and always perform at a high level.                                  


Outstanding Probation Officer (LaDonna Snell Probation Officer Award)

Abby Kossow is a Community-Based Intervention (CBI) probation officer in Probation District #4A in Omaha supervising high-risk offenders.  She began her Probation career in December 2006.  Abby is part of the gang unit that works out of the North Omaha Probation office.  Abby attends monthly gang intelligence meetings with the Omaha Police Department and collaborates almost daily with other law enforcement agencies to help ensure public safety and promote harm reduction.

Abby’s nominator indicated her “probationers are faced with socio-economic barriers and she utilizes outside agencies to assist with resume’ writing, employment retention, and job skills…  Most days find Officer Kossow in the field interacting with her probationers and their families.  Abby is very family-oriented and she includes the probationer’s family members in preparing a case plan.  This enables her to help address issues in family relationships…Abby’s tone with her probationers is the same even tone she shows her peers at work.  She is slow to raise her voice or escalate any situation and quick to try to talk someone down when they are escalating…She works with her probationers on a daily basis to confront harmful thinking patterns which can quickly escalate into imminent threats to community safety.

Abby is an Officer Safety trainer for the Nebraska Probation System.  She believes strongly in verbal de-escalation tactics and avoiding needlessly risky situations.  She consistently goes above and beyond normal expectations and is doing an exceptional job representing Probation as part of a community-wide endeavor to bring meaningful, sustainable change in the lives of her probationers.


Outstanding Probation Employee (Jean Miller Memorial Award for Probation Support Staff)

Carol Larson, who is a Senior Secretary in Probation District 4A in Omaha, began her employment in February 1994 in what was then Probation District #4 serving Douglas County District Court.  She is better known as “Dex” in the office because she has all the State of Nebraska telephone numbers in her head and she doesn’t understand the word “impossible.”  What seems to be an insurmountable task, she accomplishes with ease.  She has the ability to find what is lost, organize chaos, and still crack a joke or tell a dog story.  She goes out of her way to assist anyone with a concern or a problem.

In her current position, Carol prepares the sentencing and review lists for Thursday morning court and then processes files following court, processes supply orders, prepares probation orders, enters cases in NPACS, works closely with the Douglas County Clerk’s office, finds lost/misplaced files for court, sorts files, closes files, and helps out at the receptionist’s desk when needed.

Her nomination form indicates “she provides a wealth of knowledge to officers and peers.  She is an exemplary employee who exudes professionalism paired with spirit...Carol goes above and beyond to make others aware of what happens on cases when she receives the files back from the court and is always willing to help officers with file delivery to make the officer’s job easier.  She takes great pride in getting the sentencing list for county court completed and gets the glitches out before the big county court day.  She does most of the supply ordering for District #4A.  She is always hunting for the best stapler, paper clips, etc.  We all know she likes to shop so this is the perfect job for Carol.

Carol is the glue that holds together the various pages and chapters of the big book entitled Adult Probation.”


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

Jan Johansen began her Probation career as a probation officer in the North Platte office in September 1980 which was then Probation District #9.  Jan has supervised many probationers over the years, conducted presentence and predisposition investigations and has seen the business of Probation change many times during her 33 years of service.

The Nebraska Juvenile Service Delivery Project was piloted in Douglas County initially and in January 2012, LB985 expanded the project to Probation Districts #11 and #12.  Jan was then appointed to the newly-created Juvenile Resource Supervisor position for that area.  She took this position not knowing really what the position would require, but she was and continues to be tireless in her pursuit of knowledge as an advocate for the probation officers.  Jan has shown guidance and patience when working with officers attempting to address the needs of juveniles and their families, while remaining true to Probation objectives.  Along the way Jan encountered snags in rural Nebraska that the Project did not experience in Douglas County.  She continues to answer questions posed by officers and her ability to convey information in a clear and concise manner provides assurance that these questions will continue to diminish with time.

With the passing of LB561 in July 2013, the Juvenile Service Project has gone statewide and Probation District #12 now has its own Juvenile Resource Supervisor so Jan can concentrate solely on Probation District #11.

Her nominator indicates “Jan’s accomplishments, work ethic, productivity, and her superior performance have made the Juvenile Service Pilot Project in Districts #11 and #12 a success…Jan has been a leader in the district and on the state level changing the way Nebraska State Probation does the business of Probation on the juvenile side.”


Outstanding Team

The Culture Committee of Probation District #5 was created in 2011 and was tasked with helping build a more positive working environment throughout the 11-county district.  The committee members are Jill Spale, probation officer, Columbus; Jill Pokorny, probation officer, Wahoo; Christina Werner, support staff, York; Nick Luchsinger, probation officer, Columbus; Lance Hall, probation officer, Schuyler (Lance has since transferred to Probation District #4J in Omaha); and Carrie Rodriguez, chief deputy, Columbus.

The Committee implemented ideas across the district to help foster more positive working relationships among peers as well as develop recognition of accomplishments.  Some of the activities include Employee of the Quarter, Years of Service Recognition, and holiday/welcome baskets.  The committee also sponsors potlucks at staff meetings, snacks at staff meetings, team building exercises, sends out cards for birthdays, sympathy, new baby, weddings as well as encourages “Shout Outs” which are emails sent throughout the district when an employee wants to take a moment to give a co-worker a pat on the back or a thank you.

The Committee has been tasked with creating the type of environment they want to work in and be a part of, and to create ownership among the Probation District #5 employees in holding each other accountable to that standard and expectation.


Employee of the Year

Corey Steel began his Probation career as a drug technician in May 1998 in then Probation District #15 (now District #3A) in Lincoln.  He became an Intensive Supervision Probation Officer in Region F based in Fremont in September 1998.  He then transferred to Probation District #20 (now District #3J) in Lincoln until May 2000.  Corey resigned to take a position with Lancaster County as a Juvenile Justice Coordinator where he worked until October 2007.  While there he had oversight of all juvenile graduated sanctions programs, county juvenile grant funding, and county funded juvenile services.  In October 2007, Corey came back to Probation to fill the newly-created Juvenile Justice Program Specialist position in the Office of Probation Administration.  In this position he worked diligently for the betterment of statewide juvenile services.

In April 2011, Corey was appointed Acting Chief Probation Officer for Probation District #4J in Omaha until the new Chief Probation Officer was appointed in October 2011.  In December 2011, he was appointed Acting  Chief for Probation District #1 in Beatrice while current Chief Sarah Rinne was out on leave until February 2012.  In July 2012, Corey was appointed to the newly-created position of Assistant Deputy Administrator for Juvenile Services in the Office of Probation Administration and in July 2013 was appointed Deputy Probation Administrator for Juvenile Services.

His nominator advises that Corey “has been an inspiration for Probation staff his entire career, but never more so than during 2013.  His vision of how juveniles should be supervised, how they should receive services, and, in general, what is best for juveniles and families has been extraordinary…His proactive approach to LB561 and all juvenile matters…the relationships he has built throughout government and communities is impressive…He really has gone above and beyond and the results speak for themselves.”

2012

2012
2012

Outstanding Probation Employee (Jean Miller Memorial Award for Probation Support Staff)

Becky Smith, who is a Senior Secretary in Probation District 1 in Wilber, began her employment as a part-time secretary in the Nebraska Probation System in September 1985 in the Friend Probation office.  She served as the secretary in Friend until it was merged into the Wilber office the end of December 2000.  She also provides clerical support for the Probation office in Geneva which opened in 2011.  Ms. Smith is a diligent employee who can be counted on to get things done.  She manages many tasks above and beyond what is expected and is a silent leader in the district.  Becky has played a great role in the training and guidance of new probation officers in the rural offices which is both demanding and can be very difficult at times with the amount of work that needs to be accomplished.  Despite these things, Becky remains positive and keeps moving officers and her office forward.  The dedication and knowledge Becky possesses is unmatched by few and is respected by all.


Outstanding Probation Officer (LaDonna Snell Probation Officer Award)

Kathy Long, who is a Community-Based Intervention (CBI) probation officer in Probation District 2 in Papillion, has been with the Nebraska Probation System since January 1988 starting as a probation officer.  She currently is tasked with supervising the sex offender population in the Papillion Probation office.  She has sought training and has become the “state expert” on the subject of sex offender supervision.  In addition to her supervision of offenders, she also trains new officers in the area of investigations and supervision of this unique, and oftentimes unpopular, caseload. She is very professional yet manages to engage everyone she meets and does so in a way that others feel she cares about what happens to them.  She is trusted by the courts and her co-workers.  Kathy is a good person, a good employee, and a superb representative of the Nebraska Probation System.


Outstanding Court Supervisor / Administrative Employee

Darrie Streeter has served the Phelps County Court as Clerk Magistrate for the past 12 years. In addition to her court duties, she has served on the Through the Eyes of a Child Team,coordinated a community coalition to provide services to children and families, and assists with the Family Drug Court in Phelps County.  Darrie played a major role in organizing a seminar, “Bridges Out of Poverty,” focusing again on improving services and outcomes for families and children in the community and the court system.  Darrie continues to lead her county court in the use of technology and innovative ways to enhance the performance of the court.


Outstanding Trial or Appellate Court Employee

Sandi Peters began her employment with the Nebraska Supreme Court as an employee in the Reporter of Decision Office in 1990.  Since 1994, in addition to serving as Justice John Wright’s Administrative Assistant, Sandi has assisted with multiple administrative projects including answering questions for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education and Judicial Branch Education issues, assisting in fielding calls regarding court interpreters, and assisting with payroll and payable transactions.  Sandi is always willing to go above and beyond her official duties in a professional and competent manner.  She recently agreed to serve as Administrative Assistant for both Justice Wright and Justice Cassel.


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

Patty Lyon is the Problem-Solving Court Coordinator in Probation District 6 in Fremont and has made an outstanding contribution to the Nebraska Probation System since she began her employment in September 2000.   Patty began her Probation career as a probation officer in the Blair office where she was the only officer (employee).  She quickly earned the respect of the courts, county attorney, law enforcement, and the schools and developed relationships with her clients and stakeholders.  Ms. Lyon was appointed to the position of Problem-Solving Court Coordinator in July 2008.  Again, when she took over, she was the only employee for the drug court and in addition to all of her coordinator responsibilities she supervised 30 drug court participants.   She is responsible for the drug court’s drug testing program and has been asked to revamp the drug testing program for the whole district.  Patty has helped to change the culture of the entire district to better understand that effective drug testing is essential in identifying substance abuse issues and providing more opportunities for effective interventions.  Patty has consistently demonstrated her leadership abilities for the entire district and went above and beyond when she agreed to take on the drug testing program for the district.


Outstanding Customer Service Award

Jodi Kielian is a Records Clerk in the Platte County Court.  Jodi ‘s patience with customers at the counter or on the phone is extraordinary.  She makes sure the customers understand that the court is willing to work with them to avoid duplicated court appearances.  She has a firm but polite manner in efforts to collect fines and court costs.  She serves as a great example that a public servant can treat people with respect and dignity.


Innovation Award

Linda Smith and Deborah League, Clerk Magistrates in the 11th Judicial District, have gone above and beyond to help improve the court system.  Linda and Deborah donated their time in efforts to facilitate a pilot project for the collection of fines and costs.  They have worked with the National Center for State Courts staff, judges, and JUSTICE staff learning new texting and email features and monitoring payments of fines, costs, and fee for all the courts in the 11th district.  Linda also serves on the Through the Eyes of the Child team and Debora helps in many other courts in the district.


Outstanding Team

The Behavioral-Based Case and Caseload Management Training Team with members Deb Minardi, Deputy Probation Administrator; Julie Scott, Justice Treatment Systems Specialist; Kari Rumbaugh, Deputy Compact Administrator/Compliance Officer; Amy Latshaw, Juvenile Justice Programs Specialist; andToni Jensen, Domestic Violence Programs Service Specialist, all from the Office of Probation Administration, worked together in the past year to create, write, and implement a week-long training curriculum as a response to training needs expressed. This curriculum includes innovative ideas and training strategies and is being implemented statewide in the Nebraska Probation System.  The training includes components specific for managers to improve their leadership and coaching ability, and gives real opportunities to practice this within the training setting.  It also provides tools and approaches to case and caseload management for probation officers who supervise high-risk caseloads. These approaches, already implemented in some areas, have proven to not only improve work processes, but also have improved morale in the Probation system as well.


Employee of the Year

Ellen Faltys is the Clerk Magistrate in the Colfax County Court. The contributions Ellen Faltys has made to the Nebraska Judicial Branch are multiple.  Ellen has helped in the Douglas County Juvenile Court with the implementation of DOCKET as well as helping with the JUSTICE conversion in the district and juvenile courts in Douglas County. She has piloted JUSTICE enhancement and applications in her court, including DOCKET; Remote Case Processing, and Criminal E-Filing. Ellen was an integral part of the effort to develop the use of remote interpreters in the Spanish language. She is serving as the MOVI/JABBER resource person. She has volunteered to participate in the effort to convert the Justice Monthly Reports to PDF documents to eliminate the need for printing. She installed a scanned document distribution system from JUSTICE to the Colfax County Court.  Each lawyer has a password protected folder accessible via the internet and all journals and orders are automatically distributed to counsel of record resulting in an annual savings of approximately $5,000 in postage expense to the county.  Ellen quickly adapted the text messaging used in the 11th district for Colfax County reminding persons with time payments when a payment is due. Since 2000, Ellen has participated with other hard working Clerk Magistrates on the comprehensive procedures manual for county court.  This is a never ending effort. In addition, Ellen continues to perform her Clerk Magistrate duties with a high degree of efficiency and professionalism.

2011

2011
2011

Outstanding Probation Employee (Jean Miller Memorial Award for Probation Support Staff)

Connie Beal, a drug technician in Probation District 3A in Lincoln, began her employment in the adult probation office in Lincoln in 2008.  Connie has streamlined the drug testing process in the Lincoln office where they test upwards of 250 probationers a day.  Connie develops personal relationships with her probationers and helps them overcome many obstacles they may encounter.  This is way above what a drug technician is required to do. Probation is all about changing lives and Connie is often the positive person to help motivate and encourage probationers in their life-changing endeavors.


Outstanding Probation Officer (LaDonna Snell Probation Officer Award)

Bob Blanchard is the Problem-Solving Court Coordinator for Probation District 4A in Omaha.  Bob participates in a special Young Adult Court which is a collaborative effort between the Douglas County Attorney, a district court judge, and the Douglas County Day Reporting Center.  This Court screens young adult offenders who are first-time non-violent felony offenders.  Bob supervises these young adults and helps them successfully complete the program.  Bob also started a mentoring program and assigns each offender to a mentor to serve as additional support. He treats each offender as an individual working with their strengths and offering resources to ensure their success. He continues to serve as a role model to all his co-workers with his passion to help young adults.


Outstanding Court Supervisor / Administrative Employee

Patricia Veburg, a Division Manager in the Hall County Court, goes above and beyond her duties as a supervisor/division manager. This year she also filled in as division manager for the Criminal/Traffic/Juvenile division when a vacancy occurred.  She has also been instrumental in encouraging scanning and e-filing in Hall County Court.  Pat has been with the Hall County Court for 28 years and continues to put her employees ahead of herself and works one-on-one with each employee to make sure they understand the procedures of the civil division.


Outstanding Trial or Appellate Court Employee

Pat Laukaitis is an official court reporter in the Lancaster County District Court and past president of the Nebraska Court Reporters Association.  Pat has trained extensively in real-time transcription and impresses her judge with how accurately she transcribes courtroom activity, particularly when things get confusing and fast-paced. She is often the first courtroom personnel litigants meet and she sets the tone for the courtroom making people feel welcome even though they are often engaged in very stressful circumstances.  She continues to demonstrate loyalty and dedication to the court system.


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

Julie Micek is the Reporting Center Coordinator in Probation District #2 in Bellevue and has made an extraordinary contribution to the Nebraska Probation system since her arrival in 2007.The past year, Ms. Micek’s leadership ability was most evident when she assumed additional responsibilities assisting Probation’s Division of Community-Based Programs and Services in the development and implementation of a mental health service delivery system in the Probation districts where reporting centers are located As a licensed mental health professional (LMHP), Coordinator Julie Micek was particularly qualified to see to fruition the creation of a strong delivery system of mental health services for high-risk probationers.  Her contribution remains significant in terms of training staff and continual coordination of services.


Outstanding Customer Service Award

Phyllis Gaspers has been an employee in the Madison County Court for 13 years.  Phyllis has continually had a positive attitude toward all she comes in contact with - lawyers, judges, court staff and the public.  She adjusts to all the changes throughout the court system, including JUSTICE and more recently the Docket system for traffic court and juvenile court. Phyllis has a positive attitude and helps out at the counter when things get busy in addition to helping callers on the phone.  She goes above and beyond in her work.  She has a way to calm the angry person at the counter and often before they leave they will be smiling and even laughing.


Innovation Award

Pat Hoffman receives this award for her role in the development and implementation of the Nebraska Court of Appeals SharePoint case management system.  Pat has provided essential support services to the Court of Appeals since its inception nearly 20 years ago.  Primarily through Pat’s work above and beyond her normal duties, the court has recently implemented this electronic internal system for case processing.  SharePoint has enabled the court to achieve efficiencies unsurpassed by any other intermediate appellate court.


Outstanding Team

The County Court Procedures Manual Committee with members Tammie Duensing, Donna Fink, Ellen Faltys, Gretchen Wiebe, Paula Crouse and Sheryl Connolly has been meeting for 10 years and at least 100 times.  The County Court Procedures Manual covers every facet of the county courts and is used statewide for training and for day-to-day problem solving. This committee has also worked with separate juvenile court and district court employees to complete the Juvenile Court Procedures Manual in 2011.  These manuals have increased the consistent use of recommended procedures statewide, which improves the efficiency of court staff and the accuracy of statistics derived from appropriate handling of cases and data entry.


Employee of the Year

Linda Mitchell, Assistant Clerk I in the Antelope County Court, has been with the county court system since 1986. From the beginning of her employment it was evident that she loved a challenge and approached each assignment with a zest for learning and a passion for getting things done correctly and efficiently. Linda currently has the responsibility for distributing county court transcriptions throughout the state to private contracted transcribing firms. Linda’s loyalty and dedication has improved not only the Antelope County Court but the entire state court system.

2010

2010
2010

Outstanding Probation Employee (Jean Miller Memorial Award for Probation Support Staff)

Debi Hazy, Senior Secretary, District 12 Probation in Sidney. Ms. Hazy began working for Nebraska State Probation in 1998 in the Sidney office. Over the years she has spent hours attempting to help ferret out the issues or inconsistencies throughout the installation of the new information management system (NPACS). She continues to play an integral part in clerical meetings to help establish processes that are vital to the efficiency of her district. Her exceptional knowledge with reference to old information management system (NPMIS) and her ability to “think out of the box” are very useful to the district as well as the State.


Outstanding Probation Officer (LaDonna Snell Probation Officer Award)

Rick DeKlotz, Senior Probation Officer, District 1 Probation in Falls City.  Rick is a veteran probation officer with thirty years of experience. Rick has served for many years as a Case Management Classification trainer, and is currently a member of the District Evidence-Based Practices Implementation Team. He also serves as the resident specialist in the areas of Interstate Compact matters and Case Management of Sex Offenders. Rick is described as one of those rare individuals who always gives constructive and valuable input on ways to improve the overall work product at both the district and state levels. He is a team player and has a genuine concern for the future of the Nebraska State Probation system.


Outstanding Court Supervisor / Administrative Employee

Lori Miskimins, Clerk Magistrate, Dawes County Court. As a committed, hard-working employee, she is methodical in performing her tasks and is always available to assist her staff in all areas. Her staff describes her as honest, dependable, knowledgeable and an excellent role model. Lori has been instrumental in coordinating the scheduling of one courtroom between the district judge and the county judge, has established a very efficient filing system and has successfully moved the office recently. Lori Miskimins is an asset to the Dawes County Court and the Nebraska County Court system. 


Outstanding Trial or Appellate Court Employee

Kris Riekenberg, Official Court Reporter for Judge Korslund. In addition to her regular court schedule, she has voluntarily taken on additional duties. She has assisted Judge Johnson after the resignation of the judge’s reporter and has covered for Judge Korslund’s bailiff during her illness. Kris consistently is willing to go above and beyond her duties. She is always professional, personable, and is a genuine asset to the court system.


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

Shane Stutzman, Chief Deputy Probation Officer, District 5 Probation in York. Ms. Stutzman has been a long-time dedicated probation employee. She has served on several committee positions and has volunteered for special projects. She serves on the Training Committee and the Blended Officer Subcommittee. She is a Nebraska Adult Probation Trainer, Colors Trainer and Sex Offender Specialist. In addition to her Chief Deputy duties, she is District #5’s “go to” person for Evidence-Based Practices presentations. Shane Stutzman is a leader, trainer, coach, mentor, and friend to her staff and to the system.


Outstanding Customer Service Award

Darla Schiefelbein, Clerk Magistrate, Platte County, and Kathleen Hein, Records Clerk, Platte County (co-recipients). The Platte County Court has received many compliments regarding the helpfulness and sensitivity of Darla Schiefelbein and Kathleen Hein. Most recently, Kathleen and Darla took it upon themselves to develop a better method for their court to ensure that funds held by conservators are protected. They recognized the lack of timely filing of required reports. They made suggestions and implemented changes that now give them the opportunity to better examine the reports and to clarify any problem areas. To assist with the implementation process, Darla and Kathleen arranged to meet with local attorneys to get their input and explain why the changes were being suggested. All of these attorneys agreed that the changes were a good idea.

Darla and Kathleen have been observed frequently with customers showing exceptional patience, sometimes answering the same question three or four times. Together they work to improve customer service in the Platte County Court.


Innovation Award

Sheryl Connolly, Trial Court Services Director, Administrative Office of the Courts. Sheryl receives this award for her work in developing and implementing the on-call interpreter program. Interpreter expenses are a major expense in the judicial branch. The on-call program has been a significant factor in the reduction of interpreter expenditures during FY09-10. Many favorable comments have been received regarding this program.


Outstanding Team

JUSTICE Team, Administrative Office of the Courts (members include JUSTICE Senior Business Analysts Sherri Dennis, Kristi Kreuscher, Paula Crouse, and Gretchen Wiebe; Business Analysts Sue Nieto, Laurayne Hall and Leigh Thomas; Deputy Administrator Bill Miller). The JUSTICE Team provides support for the JUSTICE system used in 185 Nebraska trial courts. They are the voices of the help desk providing assistance daily to court staff and judges across the state. The magnitude of the JUSTICE system’s contribution to court efficiency is enormous. In addition to their help desk work, the business analysts provide training to court users, participate in Webinars and ReadyTalk presentations and provide written updates to the courts when changes to JUSTICE are made. They also review new legislation to determine how it will be integrated in to JUSTICE, work with programmers to design and test updates, contribute to development of procedural manuals and install and support digital recording systems. In addition to the ongoing support duties, the team has taken on several major projects. A few of these include: the conversion of Douglas County District Court to the JUSTICE system, payment of judgments and fines through the internet, developing electronic filing which is now available in all county courts and all but one district court, and the creation of a virtual “signing desk” which allows judges to review, sign and process default judgments online. In the first six months, 30,000 motions for default judgment were processed using this application. These accomplishments and ongoing work of this team speak for themselves.


Employee of the Year

Dave Cote, Drug Technician, District 2 Probation in Papillion. Mr. Cote has been in his position for almost four years. Drug technicians have one of the toughest jobs in the probation system. In addition to his regular duties, Dave agreed to help streamline Probation’s drug testing labs from nine in the state to one. As a result, Dave is now responsible for not only the testing in his district, but is also responsible for retesting drug samples for the entire state when requested to do so. Dave also agreed to expand his workload when a new type of drug test was discovered that would be better at detecting past alcohol abuse. Dave accepted the entire workload of this expanded program without hesitation. Dave is always coming up with ideas of how probationers can be better served in the drug testing world and innovative ways to save money.

2009

2009
2009

Outstanding Probation Employee (Jean Miller Memorial Award for Probation Support Staff)

Candace Downey, Office Manager of Probation District 2. Candace was nominated by Chief Probation Officer Kathryn Liebers, who stated in her nomination letter, “although some may consider her career with probation brief, she has exemplified professionalism, exceptional levels of productivity and efficiency, and diligently worked and streamlined office practices, policies and procedures. Candace is a leader in the office and a champion of staff and offenders alike. Candace does not hesitate to provide well considered input. She does not hesitate to congratulate probation clients on “jobs well done,” or successes they have experienced. She treats all offenders and staff with respect, recognizing and appreciating diversity.” On behalf of the Nebraska Supreme Court Awards Committee, we congratulate Candace Downey as the recipient of the 2009 Jean Miller Memorial Award. In addition to a lunch with the Supreme Court Chief Justice and the State Probation Administrator, Candace will receive a $250 cash award.


Outstanding Probation Officer (LaDonna Snell Probation Officer Award)

Tina Luz, Senior Probation Officer of Probation District 7. Tina was nominated by Carol Boysen, Senior Secretary, and Jolene Ritterbush, Probation Officer. Carol Boysen stated in her nomination letter, “I have typed many letters which I felt were giving the probationers a second chance at completing their probation requirements. She is always working with them to help them better their lives and leave probation with a better sense of direction for their future. And yet, she is firm in letting each probationer know what is expected from them and answer the consequences if they choose not to abide by the terms of their probation order.” Jolene Ritterbush states, “Since I have been a probation officer, Tina has continued to be a role model for me and is willing to help me with all my questions. She is a dedicated probation officer to her clients and her job responsibilities, as Tina is willing to do whatever it takes to get her job done in an efficient, timely, and professional manner. As there have been changes in probation over the last few years, Tina has had a willingness to adapt to the new ways of probation and has continued to be dedicated to her work, have exceptional efficiency, and superior performance.” On behalf of the Nebraska Supreme Court Awards Committee, we congratulate Tina Luz as the recipient of the 2009 LaDonna Snell Memorial Award. In addition to a lunch with the Supreme Court Chief Justice and the State Probation Administrator, Tina will receive a $250 cash award.   


Outstanding Court Supervisor / Administrative Employee

Kathy J. Jones, Red Willow County Court Clerk Magistrate in Judicial District 11. Kathy was nominated by Anne Paine, County Judge. According to Judge Paine, “Kathy has built a team of people in our office who are friendly, dedicated, and efficient. This is in large part to her leadership skills. Kathy tackles every obstacle with a calm reasoning to find a workable solution. She arranges meetings with the staff and myself to discuss where the strengths and weaknesses are in the office and tailors the skills of individual staff members to maximize their particular strengths and interests. She spends time working with new staff members to make sure that they not only know how to perform their job but also that they feel comfortable with their tasks. Members of the staff have described Kathy as being ‘awesome” at training.’” On behalf of the Nebraska Supreme Court Awards Committee, we congratulate Kathy J. Jones as the recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Court Supervisor/Administrative Employee. In addition to a lunch with the Supreme Court Chief Justice and the State Court Administrator, Kathy will receive a $250 cash award.    


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

Cliff Wolf, Chief Deputy Probation Officer of Probation District 1. Cliff was nominated by Steve Rowoldt, Acting Deputy Probation Administrator. Steve states in his nomination letter that “specifically Cliff demonstrates leadership in attitude and action by embracing probation’s new evidence-based principles and incorporating them into his daily activities. Cliff could easily maintain his position with thoughts of retirement in the not too distant future. However, rather than focusing on retirement Cliff stepped up and stepped out of his everyday duties to be at the forefront of Probation’s statewide initiatives for quality assurance, re-design of the management information system and field services programming. Cliff’s work has been instrumental in the initial designs of quality measurements for presentence investigations and probation supervision practices which will ultimately be utilized statewide.” On behalf of the Nebraska Supreme Court Awards Committee, we congratulate Cliff Wolf as the 2009 recipient of the Bob Keller Memorial Award. In addition to a lunch with the Supreme Court Chief Justice and the State Probation Administrator, Cliff will receive a $250 cash award.    


Outstanding Customer Service Award

Janet (Jan) Malone, Administrative Secretary with the State Court Administrator. Jan was nominated by Janet Bancroft, Eileen Janssen, Kathy Moore and Catherine Corbet of the Administrative Offices of the Court and Probation (AOCP). In their nomination letter, they write “Jan played a leading role in seeing the AOCP/Publications form was effectively automated providing immediate online ordering for court staff. She stuck with the project, despite the numerous setbacks caused by false emails, bad orders and unknown quirks. The project is the first of its kind developed through Nebraska.gov. It has proved to be a successful venture in every sense of the word.” On behalf of the Nebraska Supreme Court Awards Committee, we congratulate Jan Malone as the 2009 recipient of the Outstanding Customer Service Award. In addition to a lunch with the Supreme Court Chief Justice and the State Court Administrator, Jan will receive a $250 cash award.    


Innovation Award

Tenth Judicial District Clerk Magistrates (Members are Thomas Hawes, Julie Bergen, Jolene Duffy, Cindy Carrigan, Christine Gilpin, Sandy Medinger, Randell Eckhoff, Diane Wehrman and Darrie Streeter.) They were nominated by Jolene Duffy, Clerk Magistrate. In her nomination letter, Magistrate Duffy writes, “I believe the Magistrates are deserving due to two amazing technology opportunities that we bestowed upon the Tenth Judicial District in the form of a virtual web site called Wiki and web cams.” She adds that “better communication within promotes better service to our public.” On behalf of the Nebraska Supreme Court Awards Committee, we congratulate the Tenth Judicial District Magistrates as the 2009 recipient of the Innovation Award. In addition to a lunch with the Supreme Court Chief Justice and the State Court Administrator, the Tenth Judicial District Magistrates will share a $750 cash award.  


Outstanding Team

Nebraska Probation Officer Safety Trainers – Omaha Metro Area Team. (Members are Darci Poland, Ryan Mahnke, Tammy Peterson, Eric Theisen, Abby Kossow, Cortney Dail, DaVann Hallman, Julie McKinney, and Kyle Estes.) They were nominated by Mary Visek, Chief Deputy Probation Officer of Probation District Four. In her nomination letter, Chief Deputy Visek writes, “These officer safety trainers were trained at the Grand Island Law Enforcement Training Academy, then prepared, scheduled and facilitated training at the Omaha Police and Fire training facility for all area staff (about 175 people). After the training sessions were completed, the trainers then evaluated their process and assessed results from participants' surveys. This was a huge undertaking, and required hours of time in addition to their regular duties. The trainers accommodated differences in employee job duties, physical abilities and levels of experience. The quality of training, according to participants, was the best safety training that has ever been provided.” On behalf of the Nebraska Supreme Court Awards Committee, we congratulate the Nebraska Probation Officer Safety Trainers – Omaha Metro Area Team as the 2009 recipient of the Innovation Award. In addition to a lunch with the Supreme Court Chief Justice and the State Probation Administrator, the team will share a $1000 cash award.  


Employee of the Year

Jan Culver, Deputy Clerk of the Supreme Court/Court of Appeals Clerk’s Office. Jan was nominated by Lanet Asmussen of the Supreme Court, who stated in her nomination letter, “Jan exhibits the characteristics and skills of an outstanding employee each day she comes to work. She is punctual, loyal, and devoted to her work and the court system. Her interaction with the rest of the staff is positive and she helps keep morale high while performing her assigned supervisory duties. Jan treats her fellow professionals and public equally. All are shown courtesy and respect. The patience and understanding she exhibits when dealing with stressful situations is something all should strive to achieve.” On behalf of the Nebraska Supreme Court Awards Committee, we congratulate Jan Culver as the 2009 recipient of the Employee of the Year Award. In addition to a lunch with the Supreme Court Chief Justice and the State Court Administrator, Jan will receive a $500 cash award.