| | The Funke family: From left, Will, Maggie, Jeffrey, Hettie and Jack, are ready to celebrate after the 90-minute ceremony. Turn to page three for more photo coverage. – Photos by Lorraine Boyd
Jeffrey Funke Becomes Newest Justice
Who would have thought that the “cutest little boy” who knocked on Randall Rehmeier’s door on First Avenue in Nebraska City to see if he could come out and play would end up taking his place on the Nebraska District Court bench and – at age 47 – would ask retired Judge Rehmeier to preside over his investiture as a Nebraska Supreme Court justice? That’s just what Jeffrey Funke did on August 5 in the Warner Chamber of the State Capitol.
In another coincidence, Supreme Court Justice Max Kelch administered the oath of office, the same Max Kelch who, when he was the Otoe County attorney, hired Jeff Funke as a deputy prosecutor in Nebraska City. Earlier, Kelch also faced Funke in court when he was a public defender. Funke succeeded Kelch as a County Court judge in 2007. For three years, their terms overlapped on the District Court bench.
The two justices are both from Nebraska City, and both were mentored by Judge Rehmeier.
The speakers – Gov. Pete Ricketts, Hon. Rehmeier, Hon. Kelch and Hon. Todd Hutton – all emphasized Funke’s meteoric rise in the legal community, noting that it was well-earned. They cited his integrity, fairness, and work ethic.
“From working over a decade in private practice to hearing 10,000 cases [while on the bench], Judge Funke brings a diverse legal background to the Supreme Court,” said Ricketts. “As Nebraska’s new Supreme Court judge, his temperament and demeanor will be an asset to the court, the legal community, and the people of Nebraska.”
Speaking from 40 years of knowledge of Funke, Rehmeier said, “The governor could not have made a better appointment.”
Sarpy County Court Judge Todd Hutton called Funke a close friend and colleague and praised the governor’s decision.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church’s pastor, Fr. Michael McCabe, of Nebraska City, gave the invocation.
Funke told the capacity crowd occupying the main floor and three balconies of Warner Chamber that his greatest accomplishment has been his family, many of whom were present, including his parents, Thomas and Dorothy Funke. He paid tribute to his big brother, Tom, who died two years and one day before this day. He thanked Rehmeier for being a powerful role model and he enumerated some of his teachers, as well as other lawyers and judges, who influenced him along the way. And he joked that he told his three kids that they are now banned from social media.
This is Ricketts’ third appointment to the Nebraska Supreme Court. He appointed Justice Stephanie Stacy last year and Justice Max Kelch in March 2016.
The Supreme Court 5th District position was made vacant by the retirement of Judge William M. Connolly, who received a standing ovation when he was introduced and again when Funke thanked him for setting a high standard for him on the bench in his two years on the Court of Appeals and 22 years on the Supreme Court.
The fifth district includes Cass, Otoe, Johnson, Pawnee, Nemaha and Richardson counties, as well as much of the rest of southeastern Nebraska.
After feeling powerless as a teenager, Karen Hicks fights, in court, for those who can’t fight for themselves.
– Photo by Lorraine Boyd
This Solo Practitioner Is Making a Name
For Herself as a Legal Rising Star
By Elizabeth Elliott
The Daily Record
Sometimes in our lives we have an experience that shapes what we will do as a career down the road.
For Karen Hicks, an Omaha attorney, it was having her rights violated as a teenager in South Omaha.
She was walking up the street from her friend’s house to her home when she was stopped by police, questioned, photographed and told she was going to be placed on a gang file. Hicks said she felt her rights were violated but didn’t know how to fight back, what her rights were or how to protect herself.
“I want to help people learn their rights and fight the right way to protect their rights,” she said. “This is more important than ever in the current climate of the world and the ever-growing distrust for police and authority figures.”
Hicks is a solo practitioner at Hicks Law, P.C., LLO. She specializes in juvenile law, criminal defense, family law and personal injury. She has also done limited work in estates and landlord tenant issues.
One of the biggest surprises Hicks has found since becoming an attorney is the camaraderie among the attorneys.
“I thought people would be more out for themselves and kind of cut-throat,” she said. “But, when I started my firm everyone was so nice and helpful. I was really grateful. I’ve made a lot of new friends who have been there for me on more than one occasion.” Click here for full story
(Published August 11, 2016)
A Miraculous Life
By Richard Shugrue
Creighton Law Professor, Ret.
I believe in miracles. Not the magic trick sort but the lives especially well-lived by people of kindness, compassion, grace and bravery, like our Kate, who died this week of brain cancer.
Kate Shugrue Schaffner was 52 and had been a lawyer since 1989, and the mom of two wonderful kids. Her husband, Fred, was incredibly proud of Kate’s dignity and warmth, and they both relished the gift of parenthood.
While Kate knew how to practice the kind of law essential to making the community work, she was best at saving broken families or rescuing abused and neglected kids. She whispered volumes of silent prayers for being able to help many a couple adopt a kid.
She was a musician, a teacher, a civic volunteer and most of all a mom who taught her kids that grace under pressure, fair play, helping the helpless are far more important than amassing jewels or fame. She and her sisters Margaret and Mollie made me giddy to be around because they spent their lives enjoying each other and hugging one another’s kids.
These last several months – the diagnosis, the biopsies, the MRIs, the nine-hour long operation (Kate was awake) the chemo and radiation, the hospice – were terrible for all of us, but she was ever dignified, even as paralysis crept in and the ability to talk vanished. She told me at Christmas to be brave, but she demonstrated genuine courage. I watched mother and daughter exchanging selfless love. Hubby, kids, sisters, friends gave more than they ever dreamed they could.
And so now at the end of this miraculous life, I beg your indulgence if I paraphrase Shakespeare:
At her death, Take her and cut her in little stars
And she will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
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– Photos by Lorraine Boyd
It was a typical August 15 afternoon, warm and muggy, with only intermittent clouds interrupting the sunshine. A quintessential summer day for the annual face off between the Omaha Barristers Club and the Douglas County Attorneys on the softball field. The tournament is a best-two-out-of-three event with opposing teams putting their differences aside after the games to share pizza and beer at Tiger Tom’s. The Barristers (above) were the victors this year, with scores of 14 to 3 and 11 to 5. Or 14 to 6 and 11 to 8. Or something like that. In any case, the absence of County Attorney Don Kleine as pitcher doomed his team. Attorney Jason Troia – son of former pitcher Judge Joe Troia – led the Barristers to victory. The Adam Jacobs Memorial Trophy (held above by Barristers President Patrick McNamara, front row left) was presented and will be displayed at McNamara Law Firm until the tournament next August. Hot Shops’ General Manager Tim Barry demonstrates his pottery throwing in his studio.
August’s Small Business of the Month
At 16, Hot Shops Art Center ‘Just Getting
Warmed Up,’ Says General Manager
By Dan McCann
The Daily Record
Hot Shops Art Center, the Greater Omaha Chamber’s Small Business of the Month for August, turned sixteen earlier this year. If you’re looking for signs of teen angst, look again. Tim Barry, potter and general manager since 2006, is energized about the future of the facility, the artists who create there, and the burgeoning north downtown district.
“When we [a group of artists and investors] bought Hot Shops in November 1999, Omaha hadn’t voted on the convention center and riverfront development hadn’t happened yet. Film Streams, Slowdown, the ballpark, Tip-Top, the Mastercraft Building and the four hotels were not here. The growth has been amazing, and we are proud to be thought of as an anchor to the neighborhood,” Barry said. Click here for full story
Hightower Reff Law Announces
Addition of Attorney Jonathan Williams
Hightower Reff partner attorneys Tracy Hightower and Susan Reff recently announced the addition of attorney Jonathan Williams to the growing family and criminal law firm. Williams’ practice areas will include all areas of family law litigation and appeals. College of Saint Mary Paralegal Studies
“Our caseload is growing, and we need to add another attorney to take care of our clients. At Hightower Reff, we spend the time needed with each client to give them clarity about the legal process and help them set realistic goals for their case to enable them to move on in life. Lawyers with huge caseloads just don’t have the time to provide that kind of service. Jonathan’s dedication to taking care of his clients makes him the perfect fit for our firm,” Hightower said.
Williams graduated in 2014 with both a Juris Doctor and a Master’s Degree from the Creighton University School of Law. Williams is an active member of the Nebraska State Bar Association and the Omaha Bar Association. He also serves as head coach of Creighton University Club Hockey.
Williams most recently worked at another well-known Omaha firm focused on family law. Prior to that he served as law clerk to the Honorable Peter C. Battalion, Judge of the District Court, Fourth Judicial District, Nebraska.
For more information regarding Hightower Reff Law, please go to the firm’s website at: hrlawomaha.com.
Croker Huck Welcomes True as Associate
Derek C. True has recently joined the law firm of Croker, Huck, Kasher, DeWitt, Anderson & Gonderinger, L.L.C. as an associate attorney. True practices in the areas of business and commercial law, litigation, real estate, and landlord and tenant law.
True graduated with his Bachelor of Arts from Augustana University in 2012 and received his juris doctor, cum laude, from Creighton University School of Law in 2015. He is a member of the Omaha, Nebraska State, and American Bar Associations.
For more information, please go to: www.crokerlaw.com.
Program Student Earns National Scholarship
Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law, a criminal defense law firm based in Orlando, Florida, recently announced that Emily Kenney was awarded the firm’s 2016 Paralegal Scholarship. The awards, which also includes a Legal Scholarship for students pursuing juris doctorates, were based on a number of criteria – short essay, current academic status, school-related activities, community activities and other achievement standards. -winning CAFR and PAFR, please go to: www.douglascountyclerk.org.
Kinney is currently a senior at the College of Saint Mary in the paralegal studies program. She works full-time for the State of Nebraska and manages a full-time school schedule. Her expected graduation date is May 2017.
After she receives her degree, Kinney said she plans to pursue a career in corporate or real estate law. While she has not ruled out law school, she said is currently “focusing on one graduation at a time.” In her free time, she likes to explore her hometown of Omaha and travel to new places.
For more information regarding the College of Saint Mary’s Paralegal Studies Program, please go to: www.csm.edu/academics/legal-studies. To learn more about scholarships offered by the law firm of Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law, please visit the firm’s scholarship website at: https://www.mosesandrooth.com/2017-legal-scholarship/.
Douglas County District Court Judge Shelly R. Stratman swears in Matt Kuhse as Omaha’s newest city prosecutor. Kuhse asssumed his role June 6.
Kuhse is Cool in New Role as City Prosecutor
By Andy Roberts
The Daily Record
The move may have been a short one, but you have to figure it is a big step. Matt Kuhse moved up a flight of stairs from his role as a deputy Douglas County attorney into his new role as Omaha’s city prosecutor. He replaces David Smalheiser.
Kuhse is an Omaha native, born and raised in the city. His parents are Mike and Mary. His father and one brother are engineers, while his mother has a degree in zoology. “So, being a lawyer makes me kind of a black sheep,” Kuhse said.
Kuhse graduated from Marquette University in 1997 and followed up his undergraduate degree by attending the Creighton University School of Law. He earned his juris doctor in 2001. Click here for full story
Omaha attorney Christine Henningsen of the University of Nebraska Center on Children & Families, conducts a breakout session covering “Juvenile Law Basics” at the Nebraska State Bar Association Solo/Small Firm Conference. – Photo by Lorraine Boyd Focus Is on Solo, Small Firm Practices
Solo and small law firm practitioners got a conference of their own last week. The Nebraska State Bar Association, in conjunction with the Iowa State Bar, presented a three-day conference at Ameristar Casino Hotel in Council Bluffs last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The event gave participants the opportunity to attend a CLE geared directly to their type of practice, earning up to 11 CLE hours.
Session topics included everything from practice management software to social media and marketing, as well as insights to “small firms, big markets” and buying or selling a practice. Speakers included many Omaha attorneys. The opening session entitled, “Tweets, Bleats, Blogs and Chats: Ethics in the Cloud” featured speaker Dustin Cole of Attorneys Master Class. There were breakout sessions all day Friday and Saturday addressing recruiting, technology, introductions to Casemaker and Fastcase and more. Sponsors included Mercer Insurance, Clio and P&L Technology.
What a way to start a special event! It was a perfect day for an outdoor lunch and Kids & Judges Day participants took advantage of it. – Photos by Lorraine Boyd Kids & Judges Day is an event hosted by CASA for Douglas County, the Douglas County Separate Juvenile Court and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, created specifically for youth who are currently in the juvenile court system in Douglas County. The concept of “going to court” and “the judge making decisions” can be scary for kids – especially for those who may be younger and only hear about their family’s court hearings without getting to actually attend. This event was created to relieve some of that fear or anxiety, and to help children understand the roles of the professionals in their lives that they may never get to see otherwise, CASA Director Kim Thomas said.
The event on Friday, July 29, kicked off with a pizza picnic, after which the kids were divided into groups based on their specific judge. Activities/games in each court room were then facilitated by the judges and staff. There were professional photographers who volunteered their time – one for each courtroom – to take pictures of the event. Kids could pose for pictures alone or with their siblings, wearing the judges’ robes, holding the gavel, etc., and each child received their own printed copies as mementos after the event. The day ended with an ice cream party with the judges. Each child also received a book about the court process (created by the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative) – one for little kids and one geared toward older kids and teens.
Superheroes are a family affair – with appropriate attitude – at the 6th Annual Superhero 5K Run for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) in Nebraska. Photos by Lorraine Boyd
Costumes, both handmade and customized store models, gave kids of all ages the ability to soar at CASA’s annual fundraiser and fun-raiser event in Turner Park at Midtown Crossing. There was a 5K run/walk for adults and a 1K run for kids, followed by announcement of the race winners and a costume contest. An after party ensued at Cantina Laredo. A Cyborg, a Spiderman and a Supergirl took home first-place blue capes. Runners took home gold “adult” capes. All participants took home memories of a fun time and a job well done. More than 260 participated in the races, but Executive Director Kim Thomas said, “We’d like to get a few more runners next year. But, the day was beautiful and we couldn’t ask for more!” The event raised a total of $10,320.19.
Dan McMahon Jeff Slobotski ‘A Pro-business, Pro-growth Regulation’
Regulations and Red Tape Eased
For Nebraska’s Private Fund Advisers
By Dennis Friend
The Daily Record
Dan McMahon and Jeff Slobotski are pleased with a recent change in state regulations regarding investment advisers involved with private funds. They should be. They were instrumental in getting Nebraska to adopt the change.
“Most people don’t know much about the private fund exemption,” McMahon said.
But McMahon did. He’s an attorney and corporate shareholder at Omaha’s Koley Jessen P.C., L.L.O., with a practice focused on start-up companies, venture capital financings, private equity transactions, formation and operation of private investment funds, and mergers and acquisitions. He represents entrepreneurs and growth companies from formation and initial funding, as well as investors in venture capital financings and other private company investments. Click here for full story
Meetings & Seminars
For the Legal Community
Race, Law, and Practice in the 21st Century
Scott Conference Center
6450 Pine St., Omaha
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
For More Information: www.nebar.com
Celebrating Appellate Practice:
CLE and Opening a New Supreme Court Term
Nebraska State Capitol Library Reading Room
1445 K St., Lincoln
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
For More Information: www.nebar.co
46th Annual Fall Kickoff BBQ
First National Bank
14010 FNB Pkwy, Omaha
5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
For More Information: www.omahabarassociation.com
YLD Public Service Event – Stop Hunger Now
Ramada Plaza Convention Center
3321 S. 72nd St., Omaha
For More Information: www.omahabarassociation.com