Nebraska State Bar Foundation Receives National Civics Education Award Noting Chief Justice’s Guidance

Nebraska State Bar Foundation Receives National Civics Education Award Noting Chief Justice’s Guidance

Williamsburg, Va. (April 10, 2024) -- The Nebraska State Bar Foundation has been named the 2024 recipient of the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education.

Given by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) to honor the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the award recognizes an organization, court, program, or individual who has promoted, inspired, improved, or led an innovation or accomplishment in the field of civics education related to the justice system.

“We need partners like the Nebraska State Bar Foundation to promote civics education across the country, now, more than ever,” said NCSC President Mary McQueen. “I commend the foundation’s dedication to acquainting Nebraskans of all ages with the legal system and the vital role of courts in our democracy.”

The award will be presented to the Nebraska State Bar Foundation this summer during the annual conference of the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators.

Longstanding commitment to civics education

In his nomination of the Nebraska State Bar Foundation, Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican outlined the organization’s longstanding commitment to promoting civics education.

Programming ranges from a 25-year-old high school mock trial program that engages more than 1,400 students and volunteers to a Bench Media Committee designed to increase public awareness of the legal system through open dialogue with the news media. The Nebraska State Bar Foundation also developed a juror orientation video to assist the public in understanding courtroom procedures and responsibilities during jury service.

“Although the Bar Foundation’s involvement with civics began before my service on the Court, I have personally witnessed the evolution and expansion of the State Bar Foundation’s programs as they continue to promote their mission of informing and educating the public about the legal system,” Chief Justice Heavican wrote. “The Nebraska State Bar Foundation has, for many years, been a valued partner in delivering civic education throughout the State of Nebraska to students, jurors, and consumers of local news.”

Dedicated community support

Bar Foundation Executive Director Doris Huffman added, "It's crucial to acknowledge the countless individuals in the Nebraska legal community who promote youth and adult civics education. I'd like to specifically thank the Bar Foundation Board for their strong support of all of our civics education programs and Nebraska Chief Justice Mike Heavican for his guidance. Many of our most dynamic programs trace their origins back to the Supreme Court. It is the commitment of Nebraska’s legal community that forms our programming, now and into the future."

The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit court organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.



Top: Chief Justice Mike Heavican interviewed by news reporter, Jill Lamkins, following April 3, 2024, Roncalli High School Supreme Court argument session.

Bottom: Justice Jeff Funke, Chair of the Bar Foundation’s Bench Media Committee, answers questions from Creighton students following law school argument session on April 3, 2024.


Molly Justice
National Center for State Courts
Director of Communications & Marketing
(757) 259-1564