Three Judge Panel in a Nebraska Capital Murder Case Reference Sheet

Three Judge Panel in a Nebraska Capital Murder Case Reference Sheet

After a conviction in a death-penalty trial, the case moves to the sentencing phase where, among other things, jurors weigh whether there were aggravating circumstances that warrant the death penalty. The jurors make a sentencing recommendation which then goes to a three-judge panel, which must vote unanimously for the death penalty.

Nebraska’s three judge panel process:

  • The trial court makes a request to the Chief Justice for appointment of a three judge panel.
  • Once the request is received from the district court, the Chief Justice and the Clerk of the Supreme Court randomly select two additional judges for the three-judge panel from a statewide list of judges.  The judge originally assigned to the case serves as the presiding judge.
  • The Chief Justice’s office prepares the Order for Appointment and the order is available to the public via the Clerk of the Supreme Court. Occasionally there are adjustments to the judges who are assigned to the panel.  Those changes are also maintained by the Clerk.
  • Hearings of the three judge panels are generally held in the same location as the original trial.   
  • The names of the judges appointed to a three-judge panel may be requested through the Terri Brown, Clerk of the Nebraska Supreme Court. 

More information and outline of the process may be found in Nebraska Revised Statute 29-2521 (sentencing determination proceeding).