Nebraska Court Records
How Does the Nebraska Separate Juvenile Court Work?
In the state of Nebraska, County Courts typically hear juvenile matters in the Nebraska court system. However, some counties have Separate Juvenile Courts that specialize in these matters. Separate Juvenile Courts are currently located in three of the state’s counties - Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy Counties. Nebraska’s Separate Juvenile Courts are limited jurisdiction trial courts of records. In the counties where they are located, they have jurisdiction over matters that involve neglected, dependent, and delinquent children and domestic relations matters involving minors. The types of cases heard by these courts include:
- Paternity cases
- Matters involving child support, child custody, and child visitation
- Children in Need of Supervision cases
- Cases involving child abuse and neglect
- Matters involving adoptions and the termination of parental rights
- Juvenile delinquency cases
- Some felony and misdemeanor cases
The state’s judicial nominating commission is responsible for overseeing the process of appointing Separate Juvenile Court judges. This process is the same process followed when selecting judges in the other Nebraska courts. The selection process begins with the judicial nominating commission announcing a vacant judgeship position and issuing public hearing notice on the matter. This hearing is held not later than 60 days after the announcement. The judicial nominating commission consists of nine members; four lawyers elected by the Nebraska State Bar Association, four non-lawyers appointed by the Nebraska State Governor, and either the chief justice or an associate justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court. Parties that wish to be appointed as the judge of a Nebraska Separate Juvenile Court will be required to submit applications to the judicial nominating commission. The commission is also empowered to seek out and recruit individuals that it feels would be qualified for the position. These individuals must meet the following criteria:
- Must be citizens of the United States
- Must be at least 30 years old
- Must be licensed to practice law in the state of Nebraska
- Must have practiced for at least five years (this may include time served as a judge)
All applications must be made not later than 21 days before the scheduled public hearing, and a list of qualified applicants must be published not later than ten days before the hearing.
At the hearing, interested parties are allowed to express their opinions on each applicant and their suitability for the position. The applicants will also be allowed to speak about themselves or have other parties do so on their behalf. Once the public hearing is concluded, the judicial nominating commission may decide to conduct a private interview with the applicants. However, this step is not compulsory.
After the hearing and any interviews, the judicial nominating commission retires to a closed meeting, where they vote on the applicants. Except for the Supreme Court justice, or associate justice, all members of the judicial nominating commission must be present for this vote. Applicants that receive at least five votes are forwarded to the Nebraska state governor, who has 60 days to appoint one of them as the new Separate Juvenile Court judge. In situations where the state governor cannot make this appointment before the end of the 60 days, then the selection is made by th the Nebraska Supreme Court’s chief justice.
Judges in the state of Nebraska do not have a mandatory age of retirement. However, newly appointed judges that wish to retain their position must stand in a retention election at the first general elections held at least three years after their appointment. After the initial election, these judges must also stand for retention elections every six years.
In recognition that the cases heard in the Separate Juvenile Courts involve minors, the Nebraska judicial system has set forth a stipulated time frame for dispositions in cases heard by these courts, which varies depending on the type of case. This timeframe is listed as follows:
- Temporary custody hearings—not more than eight days after the child’s removal
- Submission of decisions in cases involving termination of parental rights—not more than 90 days after the motion to terminate parental rights was filed
- Adjudication hearings in cases stipulated under Nebraska Revised Statutes § 43–247(3)(a) - not more than 60 days after the petition is filed in cases where the child has been removed or 90 days in cases where the child was not removed or was removed and returned home shortly after the petition was filed (this time frame may be extended under certain circumstances)
- Adjudication hearings in juvenile justice cases—not more than 30 days after the initial date of detention in cases where the juvenile is still detained after a delinquency petition has been filed, or 14 days in cases where the juvenile is still detained on a motion to revoke probation. For juveniles that are not detained, the time frame is not more than 90 days for cases involving delinquency or status offenses, and not more than 30 days for matters involving resolutions on motions to revoke probation.
- Disposition hearings—not more than 45 days after the adjudication hearing
Decisions issued by a Nebraska Separate Juvenile Court can be appealed at the state’s Court of Appeals. Parties that wish to do so must initiate the appellate process no later than 30 days after the decision is issued.
The Nebraska judicial system provides interested parties with online access to court records through its JUSTICE court case search portal. Utilizing this service costs a fee of $15 per search. Interested parties can also access these records by contacting the Separate Juvenile Court, where the case was heard. Note that access to some of these records may be restricted due to the sensitive nature cases heard in the Separate Juvenile Courts.
Nebraska Separate Juvenile Courts can be contacted through the following information:
Douglas County Juvenile Court
Hall of Justice
1701 Farnam Street