Nebraska’s Court Video Featuring Public Engagement Tours to Debut at National Education Session

Nebraska’s Court Video Featuring Public Engagement Tours to Debut at National Education Session

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Nebraska’s State Court engagement sessions with Tribal and Federal Courts were featured in an online education session through the National Center for State Courts. The “Community Engagement, Trust and Confidence: Engaging, Listening and Improving Justice for All” session held July 14, 2020, featured Chief Justice Michael Heavican and State Court Administrator Corey Steel along with other state court program sponsors in Missouri, Texas, and Massachusetts. 

Nebraska, along with the other states, were invited to showcase their work to engage the public while also advancing the understanding of how courts can best overcome social inequities and bias and build trust. The state court speakers were joined by social scientists from the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center and the Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice. The program’s goal is to explore the science of public participation and its implications for more meaningful community engagement.

The Nebraska Consortium of Tribal, State, and Federal Courts, co-chaired by Judge Patrick Runge (Winnebago and Ponca Tribe Chief Judge) and Judge Andrea Miller (District 12) traveled to four locations to engage in initial conversations with Nebraska’s Native American communities. Various Consortium members, as well as Chief Justice Michael Heavican, joined facilitators Ret. Judge Bill Thorne and Jenny Walter for sessions in Omaha, Niobrara, Macy, and Winnebago in early November. The second leg of the tour was postponed due to COVID-19.

Video interviews with Justice Stephanie Stacy of the Nebraska Supreme Court, Judge Bill Thorne (of the Pomo tribe), Judge Patrick Runge (Winnebago and Ponca Tribe Chief Judge), Judge Andrea Miller (district court judge in Nebraska’s 12th Judicial District, and Misty Frazier (Executive Director of the Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Coalition) outline the experiences of the Consortium.

Attendees aired grievances and frustrations with state, federal, and tribal courts as they have experienced them. The exchange also included information and possible shortfalls of the Indian Child Welfare Act and jurisdictional issues.

The Nebraska Supreme Court and the Nebraska State Trial Courts stand on the traditional homelands of the Pawnee, Ponca, Oto-Missouria, Omaha, Dakota, Lakota, Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Kaw Peoples, as well as the relocated Ho-Chunk, Iowa, and Sac and Fox Peoples.

This public engagement tour was funded by a grant from the National Center for State Courts and is being evaluated by the UNL Public Policy Center. More public engagement events are being planned.

Watch the Nebraska Public Engagement video: