District of Nebraska

The United States District Court for the District of Nebraska is the federal trial court with jurisdiction over the state of Nebraska. It was established in 1867, shortly after Nebraska achieved statehood. The court is authorized with one district judge and four magistrate judges who handle proceedings in Lincoln and Omaha. Here is an overview of the District of Nebraska, including its history, operations, and role within the federal judiciary.

Overview of the District of Nebraska

Geography and Population

The District of Nebraska encompasses the entire state of Nebraska, which spans 77,354 square miles. Major cities include Omaha and Lincoln. Nebraska has a population of approximately 1.9 million residents. The district contains 93 counties.

Federal Courthouses

The District of Nebraska holds court in two locations:

  • Roman L. Hruska United States Courthouse in Omaha
  • United States Courthouse in Lincoln

The Hruska Courthouse is home to the district court clerk’s office and houses the court’s bankruptcy cases.

Judges and Staff

The District of Nebraska has 1 authorized district court judgeship and 4 full-time magistrate judgeships. The current U.S. District Judge is John M. Gerrard. The U.S. Marshal is Scott E. Kracl.

History of the District

Early Years and Expansion

The District of Nebraska was established on March 16, 1867, shortly after Nebraska became a state in 1866. The court initially had a single judgeship and convened in Omaha. In 1905, Congress authorized a second judgeship for the district.

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The court expanded as Nebraska’s population grew. Additional courthouses opened in Lincoln in 1905 and North Platte in 1929. The court grew to its current composition of one district judge and four magistrates during the late 20th century.

Notable Trials and Cases

The District of Nebraska has adjudicated several high-profile cases:

  • Ponca Tribe of Nebraska v. Continental Carbon Co. (2005): A landmark CERCLA case regarding environmental damage to tribal lands.
  • Robinson v. Global Marine Drilling Co. (1985): A Jones Act case that established new liability standards for vessel owners.
  • U.S. v. Morris (1991): The court sentenced Native American activist Dennis Banks to probation for events related to the Wounded Knee uprising.

Court Operations and Procedures

Jurisdiction

The District of Nebraska has jurisdiction over all federal cases filed within its geographic boundaries. These include civil suits and criminal prosecutions arising under federal law.

District Divisions

The District of Nebraska has one judicial district. It maintains divisions in Lincoln and Omaha for holding court proceedings.

Local Rules and Fees

The District of Nebraska has adopted local rules that supplement the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. These include specific requirements for filing, formatting, and other procedures. Court fees include a $350 filing fee for a civil case and a $52 administrative fee for filing electronically.

Conclusion

For over 150 years, the District of Nebraska has served as the federal trial court for Nebraska. It has adapted as the state has grown and stands ready to fulfill its mission of providing equal justice under the law. The court will continue evolving to meet the needs of the public in the 21st century.

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FAQs

How many federal judges serve on the District of Nebraska?

The District of Nebraska has 1 district court judge and 4 magistrate judges.

What are the main courthouses used by the court?

The Roman L. Hruska Courthouse in Omaha and the United States Courthouse in Lincoln host most proceedings.

What is the difference between district and magistrate judges?

District judges are appointed by the president and handle trials and hearings. Magistrate judges are appointed by district judges to handle preliminary criminal matters and civil pretrial activities.

What is the busiest division of the court?

The Omaha division is typically the busiest, handling over 75% of the court’s caseload.

Where can I find the local rules for the District of Nebraska?

The local rules are published on the court’s website in its Rules of Practice section.

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