Jessica Karmasek Aug. 17, 2015, 9:37am


LINCOLN, Neb. (Legal Newsline) - Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts on Friday selected a state district court judge to fill an open seat on the state Supreme Court.

Ricketts announced that Judge Stephanie Stacy, who currently serves as a district court judge in Lancaster County, will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Kenneth Stephan.

“Judge Stacy’s judicial and legal experience have served the State of Nebraska well,” Ricketts said. “Her expertise and judicial temperament will continue to be an asset to the people of Nebraska and now also to our state’s Supreme Court.”

According to the Governor’s Office, Stacy has handled felony criminal cases, civil cases, domestic cases, appeals from county court and administrative agencies, as well as lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of state statutes/regulations, election issues and lawsuits against the state and state officials.

Prior to her service to the district court, Stacy was a partner at one of the largest firms in Nebraska, Baylor Evnen Curtiss Grimit & Witt LLP, and adjunct faculty teaching Trial Advocacy and Pretrial Litigation at the University of Nebraska College of Law.

In addition, since February 2015, she has served as one of two judges who preside over the Lancaster County Adult Drug Court.

Stacy holds an undergraduate degree in criminal justice from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated from the University of Nebraska College of Law.

Stephan, who announced in May that he was retiring effective July 1, served 18 years on the state’s high court. He represented the First Judicial District, which consists of Lancaster and Seward counties.

“I will leave the court with profound appreciation and gratitude for the collegiality and friendship of the judges with whom I have served; the loyalty and dedication of my law clerks and administrative assistant; and the support of the fine employees of the Judicial Branch,” Stephan wrote in his resignation letter to Ricketts.

“They have made my service on the court an experience that I will always treasure.”

Stephan worked as a lawyer in private practice from 1973 until 1997, when he was appointed to the court.

In Nebraska, the seven justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the governor with help from a nominating commission.

When a vacancy occurs, the commission submits the names of at least two qualified candidates to the governor, who appoints one to fill the vacancy.

If the governor fails to make an appointment within 60 days, the chief justice of the Supreme Court is authorized to select a new justice.

State judges serve initial terms of three years, and then must run in yes-no retention elections the next general election. Subsequent terms last six years.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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