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Nebraska’s Distinguished Judges

Distinguished Judge for Improvement of the Judicial System
Hon. Anne M. Paine

Judge Anne M. Paine was presented the “Child Champion Award” by Former Nebraska Chief Justice John Hendry, who founded the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative, two years after joining the bench,   The award, presented at the 2009 Nebraska Children’s Summit, recognized her as an individual with particular dedication and service in improving the court system for children.  She was commended for her dedication to abuse/neglect cases, creative solutions in meeting the needs of children, and commitment to improvements within the court system.  Over the next several years, she continued and expanded her participation in projects that improve the Nebraska judicial system.

Judge Paine has earned the Distinguished Judge award for her many innovative projects, the most recent being a pilot project to improve compliance with court-ordered financial obligations for probationers in criminal cases.  Working with the Administrative Office of the Courts & Probation and the National Center for State Courts, Judge Paine involved the judges and staff of the 11th Judicial District in designing an automated text-message and email system to notify offenders of upcoming payment obligations and court dates.

Judge Paine’s efforts are being shared throughout the state by the Administrative Office of the Courts and Probation.  Following local development of the text-message project, Judge Paine shared the concept through the Technology Committee.  Following a demonstration by the text-message software vendor, the JUSTICE system staff developed a comparable function now available through the statewide case management system.

Judge Paine currently serves on the Supreme Court Commission on Children in the Courts and the Juvenile Case Progression Standards Committee.  She is Lead Judge for the 11th Judicial District Eyes of the Child Team – 3, and serves on the “Centralization” committee of the Nebraska Court System Reengineering Committee.


Distinguished Judge for Service to the Community
Hon. Laureen K. Van Norman

Judge Laureen K. Van Norman was appointed to the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court on July 6, 1993, and has since worked tirelessly toward the improvement not only of her court and the workers’ compensation system but of the entire Nebraska judicial system. 

The Distinguished Judge award is presented to Judge Van Norman for her extended efforts to provide accessible, safe access to all participants in the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court process. 

Understanding that it is crucial that everyone has effective and meaningful access to the justice system, and that makeshift accommodations are not sufficient, Judge Van Norman made an accessible Workers’ Compensation Court a priority.  The main courtroom of the Workers’ Compensation Court in the State Capitol building has never been ADA compliant and could not be modified to comply with ADA requirements.  As a consequence, court clients and lawyers who could not fit their wheelchairs/scooters into the State Capitol’s narrow elevators or negotiate their way into the courtroom, had to have their hearings scheduled in Legislative rooms on the main floor of the Capitol. 

As Presiding Judge of the Compensation Court, she is considered the driving force in identifying, developing, and moving the Workers’ Compensation Court into Americans with Disability (ADA) act-compliant facilities. The courtroom has moved from the State Capitol’s tower to its new, permanent home at 1010 Lincoln Mall, across the street to the east of the City-County Building.  She has worked diligently and tenaciously to ensure adequate courtrooms, facilities and security for the public, judges and court staff.  The multi-year effort was successful only after a long and arduous process which involved all three branches of state government and several bills before the Nebraska Legislature. 

Judge Van Norman currently serves on the Supreme Court’s Implementation Committee on Pro Se Litigation, Technology Committee (including the Courtroom Enhancements and Strategic Planning subcommittees), and Judicial Branch Education Advisory Committee.  She is a regular participant in the Chief Justice’s annual judicial branch leadership meetings.