– Photo by Lorraine Boyd
From left: comedian Dusty Stehl; Douglas County CASA Executive Director Kim Thomas; Sarpy County CASA Executive Director Georgie Scurfield; Amy Grohe; emcee and comedian JC Morgan; and Jessica Covi, wife of Kris, celebrated the end to a successful fundraising event. Towering over them all is 6’8” Kris Covi. Comedian Nick Allen had to slip out early.
CASA Supporters Got ‘A Good Laugh’
Attorney Kris Covi, billed as “Nebraska’s Tallest Comic,” headlined a comedy fundraiser for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) October 1, filling the Oak Hills Country Club with enthusiastic supporters. It was sponsored by Kappa Alpha Theta Omaha Alumnae, who have supported CASA for 25 years. He invited three of his comedian friends to provide some of the laughs for a good cause. Covi himself was just back from a triumphant run in the World Series of Comedy in Las Vegas, where he finished eighth out of 450 comics. Previously, he won the Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk, Neb. in 2014.
Covi, who is a shareholder at the Omaha law firm of McGrath North, is also president of Mustaches for Kids Omaha, the organization that has raised over a million dollars since 2009 for Ted E. Bear Hollow.

JFON-NE’s Executive Director Emiliano Lerda (left) and Cupcake Wars’ pastry chef Florian Bellanger listen to a culinary student’s presentation on her cupcakes. (Turn to page three for more photos.)
No Slowdown in Sight for JFON-NE
By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record

It may have taken place at Omaha’s Slowdown venue, but the first annual Justice For Our Neighbors – Nebraska Food Truck World Tour event never slowed down.
The fundraiser for the nonprofit legal organization featured not only an international bevy of food truck offerings and a rousing party with popular local band Satchel Grande, but also a special cupcake tasting judged by none other than the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars Judge Florian Bellanger and the “Carpenter Brothers,” Jake and Justin Blecha.
Cupcakes were prepared by culinary students from Iowa Western Community College and Metropolitan Community College, as well as The Millard Horizon Academy.
Flavors included bacon and maple, pumpkin, strawberries and cream, and even churro. Bellanger tasted each entry and gave detailed feedback to the eager students. Even Bellanger contributed to the international emphasis of the event; he’s a native of Paris, France.
JFON’s Executive Director Emiliano Lerda, J.D., LL.M., was seen carrying Bellanger’s cupcake leavings. The Blecha brothers, who were raised in Omaha, assisted by providing comic relief during the judging.

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Cassem, Tierney, Adams, Gotch & Douglas
Welcomes Two New Attorneys to the Firm

The law firm of Cassem, Tierney, Adams, Gotch & Douglas recently announced that Carolyn Wilson and John McWilliams have joined the firm as associates.
Wilson graduated from Creighton University School of Law in 2000. She has considerable experience with the Douglas County Public Defender’s Office and as corporate counsel to a local firm. She is also accredited by the V.A. to assist veterans in submitting claims.
McWilliams graduated, magna cum laude, in 2015 from Creighton University School of Law, where he was research editor of the Law Review.
For more information regarding Cassem, Tierney, Adams, Gotch & Douglas, please visit the firm’s
website at:

Exceptional Judicial Branch Employees
Recognized During Annual Awards Celebration

Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael G. Heavican recently presented 11 Employee Recognition Awards to individuals and team members during the Nebraska Supreme Court’s seventh annual recognition event.
The Employee Recognition Committee selected ten individuals and one team from the nominations submitted for the Employee Recognition Awards. Candidates for the awards were chosen and nominated by their supervisors and colleagues in the courts and probation offices where they work. The purpose of the program is to recognize ongoing court and probation employee dedication, acknowledge exemplary contributions, and encourage employee commitment.
This is the seventh year that the Nebraska Supreme Court has recognized court and probation employees with awards for outstanding job performance and commitment to public service. Employees were honored by Chief Justice Michael G. Heavican, Court Administrator Corey Steel, Probation Administrator Ellen Fabian Brokofsky, and invited guests with a ceremony in the Warner Chamber of the Nebraska State Capitol.
The awards are the highest honors given by the Nebraska Supreme Court recognizing exemplary performance by court and probation employees in the Nebraska Judicial System. There are nearly 1,500 employees in the judicial system in court and probation offices statewide.

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Nebraska State Bar Association
Liz Neeley One of 10 Inaugural Inspire Award Winners

NSBA Executive Director Elizabeth Neeley, Ph.D., was recently awarded one of 10 first-ever Inspire – Celebrating Women’s Leadership Awards for Excellence in Business (small business category) at the inaugural awards luncheon at The Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln last Tuesday. Sponsored by the Lincoln Journal Star, CHI Health, the University of Nebraska and Nebraska Wesleyan University, the awards recognize women who have excelled in their professional lives and emerged as leaders and role models in the community.
Prior to directing the Nebraska State Bar Association, Dr. Neeley founded and directed Objective Advantage, LLC, a policy research firm that bridges the knowledge and methods of academia with local, state and national policy issues. Dr. Neeley currently serves on the board of directors of both the Nebraska Foster Care Review Office and the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. She has served as a faculty fellow at the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center for over 14 years, and is a former adjunct professor of sociology for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Additionally, Dr. Neeley’s extensive leadership background includes past board membership of the Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association and service as the director of the Minority Justice Committee, a joint initiative of the Nebraska Supreme Court and the Nebraska State Bar Association. She is an active member of the Nebraska Supreme Court’s Interpreter Advisory Committee, MInority Justice Committee, Pro Se Committee and the Steering Committee for Nebraska’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Intitiative. She is a member of the American Bar Association and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.
For more information regarding the Inspire Awards, please go to: The Nebraska State Bar Association’s website is:

Baird Holm’s Putnam Named Chairman
Of the Board of Directors of KU Alumni Association

Baird Holm LLP recently announced that Managing Partner Richard (Rick) E. Putnam has been elected as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the University of Kansas Alumni Association.
Founded in 1883, the KU Alumni Association exists to strengthen the University of Kansas by informing, mobilizing and supporting Alumni Association members and the KU community. The KU Alumni Association has 42,000 dues-paying members and is a leader among self-governing alumni associations nationwide.
Putnam has been the managing partner of Baird Holm since 2009. In addition to the leadership he provides to the firm, he also counsels individuals and entities on business and succession planning issues, governance, compliance and regulatory matters, and provides counsel to public and private foundations.
For more information regarding Baird Holm LLP, please visit the firm’s website at:

Fraser Stryker Welcomes Two New Attorneys
Fraser Stryker PC LLO recently announced that Brandon Crainer and Neil Hassler have joined the firm as associates.

Crainer received his bachelor of arts from Loyola University of New Orleans, cum laude, and his law degree from Creighton University School of Law, cum laude. His practice includes litigation, insurance defense, and labor and employment law.
Hassler received his bachelor of arts from Creighton University, magna cum laude, and his law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law, with high distinction. His practice focuses on business and corporate law, and provides services to the firm’s clients in estate planning, taxation, real estate transactions, employee benefits and ERISA, and nonprofit and charitable organizations.
For more information regarding Fraser Stryker, please visit the firm’s website at:

Houghton Vandenack Williams LLP
Welcomes Meier as Associate Attorney

Houghton Vandenack Williams LLP recently announced that Nicholas (Nick) D. Meier has joined the firm as a new associate attorney, where he will work in the firm’s tax and trusts and estate planning practice areas. Meier is admitted to practice law in the state of Nebraska.
Meier received his juris doctor from the University of Nebraska-College of Law where he graduated, with distinction.  During law school, Meier was awarded the CALI Excellence for the Future in Estate Planning Problems (2014), Law Office Management (2014) and Construction Law (2013). He also served as law clerk in the criminal appeals division of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office.
For more information regarding Houghton Vandenack Williams, please visit the firm’s website at:


– Photo by Jim Fackler
Red Mass Celebrates Courts' Start of Fall Term
Creighton University’s new president, the Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, S.J., celebrated his first Red Mass at Creighton Monday. The traditional Red Mass marks the opening of the fall term of the courts. Those in the justice system pray for divine guidance in the proper representation of clients and the proper administration of justice in the courts and public offices. The Mass was celebrated at St. John’s Catholic Church on Creighton’s campus.

Scott Heese has taken his business from his basement to across the globe, and it has earned him the Chamber’s accolades.                                                                                                            – Photo by Jordan Green
Holidynamics Shines as Chamber’s
October Small Business of the Month

By Dan McCann
The Daily Record

That sparkle in Scott Heese’s eyes isn’t simply a reflection of tens of thousands of incandescent and LED light bulbs glowing in his company’s two-story showroom.
It’s a manifestation of the passion that comes from creating, innovating – and knowing you’ve become one of the metro’s top engineers of holiday cheer.
Heese is the president and CEO of Holidynamics, the Greater Omaha Chamber’s Small Business of the Month for October.
The company, founded years ago in Heese’s basement, designs, produces and supplies high-quality holiday lighting and décor for a complete calendar of occasions – and for customers across the country.
“I get the most gratification out of designing a piece, bringing it to life and having people enjoy it,” Heese said. “I love being on the retail floor. I love visiting with customers and getting feedback.”
Halloween displays – illuminated Jack-o-lanterns and spooky pre-lit trees – glow in the showroom this month, not far from an illuminated Husker ‘N.’ The fall fixtures share floor space with the company’s centerpieces: lighted Christmas displays (from elves to carolers to toy soldiers), pre-lit Christmas trees and Lightlinks that, weeks from now, will edge the rooflines of hundreds of heartland homes and businesses with lighted candy canes, bows or gift boxes.
Creativity is a company hallmark – so is innovation. Holidynamics holds patents on several leading-edge products, including a water-resistant LED light set that comes with a patented light spool designed to avoid tangles during storage.
Not only does Holidynamics conjure, produce and sell its own brand of holiday bling, the company also installs, removes and stores it.

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Senate Holds Judiciary Hearing for Nebraska
Federal Judge Nominee Robert Rossiter

Washington – On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held their judiciary hearing for Robert Rossiter Jr. of Omaha and his nomination to the Federal District Court for Nebraska. Following the confirmation hearing, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on his nomination. Once approved by the committee, his nomination will head to the Senate floor for a final vote, which is expected by the end of this year.
U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and former Senator Mike Johanns first recommended Rossiter for this position in August 2014. After the announcement that Judge Joseph Bataillon planned to retire from regular active service, Fischer and Johanns began a statewide search, accepting applications for more than four months before announcing their selection of Rossiter to fill the vacancy. Traditionally, when submitting judicial nominations, the president gives deference to home-state senators during the selection process.
Rossiter is currently a partner at Fraser Stryker and president-elect of the Nebraska State Bar Association. He graduated, cum laude, from Creighton University School of Law in 1981, where he served as the editor of the Creighton Law Review. After receiving his law degree, Rossiter clerked for U.S. District Court Judge C. Arlen Beam.

Midtown Shops, Homes, Businesses
Revitalized by GreenSlate Development

By Julien R. Fielding
The Daily Record

Midtown Omaha continues to blossom.
The newest game changers in that arena are Matt Dwyer and Jay Lund of GreenSlate Development, and they are transforming the Blackstone District into one of the city’s hottest destination spots.
“We chose Blackstone for a multitude of reasons,” Lund said. “The two biggest are the area’s demographics and employment. This is one of the most densely populated residential areas in Omaha, and the majority of those people are associated with the Med Center in some way.
“The district is right next door to the Med Center [Nebraska Medicine], so that’s reason enough to do this. There are almost as many employees at UNMC as there are downtown. And when you add in Kiewit, National Indemnity, and Mutual of Omaha, the density of employment is pretty amazing. We looked at this area for over five years. Some developers had looked at it before we did, but the timing was never quite right. We saw the opportunity and took a chance.”
“The whole thing started as a pet project to renovate an old building, and the market created the demand for a greater plan,” Dwyer said. “We didn’t have a master plan. We uncovered an insatiable appetite for retailers and patrons who wanted to be in that area.”

Jay Lund (left) and Matt Dwyer are the game changers in the Blackstone District.

The “old building” to which he refers is on the corner of 40th and Farnam, and is occupied by MULA Mexican Kitchen and Tequileria, Archetype Coffee, Scriptown Brewery, and seven new apartments. Since then GreenSlate has developed a variety of residential and retail properties, including Blackstone Townhomes, Blackstone Corner (home of the Nite Owl Bar, Corkscrew Wine Bar, and others), Shops at Blackstone (home of Noli’s Pizza, Surly Chap, Dundee Cycle, and bou•quet) and more.
Their enterprise “has been wildly successful,” Dwyer said. “We have 50,000-square-feet of retail, and it is 100 percent leased. If you come on a weekend, you see hundreds of people milling around. Two years ago, there was no real sign of life. There wasn’t a business district. We went to the Nite Owl last night, and there was a 70-year-old couple, four construction workers, neighborhood residents, and everything in between … it’s a mixed demographic in this area.”

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Catherine Swiniarski, founder of Elder Law of Omaha (center), has welcomed attorneys Nick Halbur and Abby McConnaughhay to her firm.
Catherine Nichols Swiniarski
Grandmother Led to Her Work in Elder Law

By Julien R. Fielding
The Daily Record
   Catherine Nichols Swiniarski got into elder law because of her grandmother. As Swiniarski tells it, her grandmother was living in a senior care center and having trouble dealing with some Medicare issues.
     She asked her granddaughter for help, and after Swiniarski helped her, she started telling other residents that her granddaughter could do the same for them.       


Creighton University School of Law is seeking  a qualified Assistant Dean for Career Development.  The position is responsible  for providing primary leadership for the Law School's career planning and placement operations.  Qualified candidates must have a Juris Doctor  degree with at least five years’ experience in higher education  or in a position with responsibility for  hiring of attorneys. Qualified candidates apply at Creighton University is an EEO/AA Employer: M/F/Disabled/Vets.
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25- and 50-Year Lawyers Honored
45 Years Ago, This Lawyer Made History

By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record

Today the Nebraska State Bar Association is honoring those members who have reached milestones in their careers: 25 and 50 years as lawyers. They will be the guests of honor at today’s Legacy Luncheon at noon in the Windsor V room at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in La Vista. The George H. Turner Award will be presented posthumously to the Hon. Michael L. Offner. Other NSBA members who have died in the past year will also be remembered.
Here’s the story of one of today’s honorees.
William J. Panec
Few lawyers make a sweeping, historic change in their state’s judicial system fresh out of law school. Few become a judge immediately upon earning their juris doctorate degree. But then, there is only one William Joseph Panec.
Panec’s extraordinary career started with his graduation from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1965. The Pawnee City, Neb., native had served with the United States Army Reserve before earning a bachelor of science degree in business administration at the University of Nebraska. Panec was mulling over his employment options, having worked during law school for “a fine law firm” in Lincoln who offered him a position upon graduation.

The Fairbury County Courthouse was a second home to William Panec for half a century.
Then he read a notice seeking applicants for a Jefferson County, Neb., judgeship. He called Robert Lammers, the Jefferson County attorney at the time, who told him a law degree was not required to be a county judge. Lammers asked him to come to Fairbury – a small town on the Kansas border in southeast Nebraska – the next day and talk to the County board. To his surprise, despite applications from about a dozen citizens and attorneys, he was appointed county judge on March 2, 1965. He was admitted to the Nebraska State Bar Association two weeks later on March 19. At age 27, he was the youngest county judge in Nebraska.

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State’s Lawyers and Judges To Help Community, Hone Skills At Annual Meeting
This week, attorneys and judges from across Nebraska will attend the state’s largest professional development conference to stay abreast of legal trends and use their resources to help those in need.
The 2015 Nebraska State Bar Association Annual Meeting will be held October 7-9 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in La Vista.
“Lawyers always want to be better, to be at the top of their game,” said Amie Martinez, NSBA President, “and the continuing legal education provided at the annual meeting gives them the latest tools to improve their practice and be the best they can be.”
In addition to perennial seminars on substantive areas of the law, ethics and work-life balance, Martinez will follow through on her presidential initiative to increase public service by bar members.
Friday, October 9, from 9-11 a.m., volunteers will participate in the first annual Presidential Public Service Project to help feed the hungry.

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– Photo by Lorraine Boyd
NePA Annual Meeting
County Attorney Takes Mystery Out of His Office
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine gave members of the Nebraska Paralegal Association (NePA) an in-depth look at the scope of his office’s duties at the opening breakfast of their Fall Seminar and Annual Meeting last week. Noting that he still personally prosecutes many jury trials, he said nothing makes him prouder than “standing up in a courtroom and saying ‘I represent the people of Douglas County.’” His job includes leading 56 lawyers in the criminal division and 12 in the civil division. The county coroner is also under his jurisdiction, with five forensic pathologists on line to conduct around 800 autopsies this year.
He pointed out the effectiveness of PowerPoint presentations in court. “They have a tremendous impact on jurors, and paralegals help us put those together.” Of his work in the juvenile division, he said, “We do everything we can to keep them out of the system.” Speaking of some of the high profile cases he has prosecuted, he said his job is sometimes emotional, especially when it involves children.
“This position is about public service,” he said, “and your jobs are about that too. The justice system works so well because of the people in the system who make it work.”
Work in the justice system, Kleine said, “Is a great calling, an honorable profession.”

NePA Names Officers for 2015-2016 Membership Year

The Nebraska Paralegal Association (NePA) also announced the names of the officers slated to comprise its board of directors for the 2015-2016 membership year. Effective September 17, 2015, the NePA Board of Directors for 2015-2016 are:

Laurie S. Vik, ACP              President
Mindy Ware, ACP               Past President
Teri Gibbons                       President-Elect
Sandra L. Armstrong, CP   Vice President
Lauriel L. Nelson                Secretary
Bridget M. Stuhr                 Treasurer
Katie M. Wibbels, CP         District 1 Director
Barbara L. Levos                District 2 Director
Amber Roberts, ACP          NALA Liason
Anna Palmer, ACP             Parliamentarian
Nicole M. Day, CP              Website Administrator
Kimberly A.S. Brown, ACP Publication Editor

For more information regarding NePA, please visit the organization’s website at:

Meetings & Seminars
For the Legal Community

2015 NSBA Annual Meeting: Reigniting the Flame
Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center
12520 Westport Pkwy, La Vista
For More Information:


Securities Law Enforcement CLE: Recent Trends and Current Policies
Creighton University School of Law, Room 122
2133 California St (21st & Cass Sts.), Omaha
11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
For More Information:
Federalist Society Hosts Mike Daugherty
UNL College of Law
1875 N 42 St, Lincoln
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
For More Information:
Punishment Through Process:
What the FTC Gets Away With via the Administrative Procedures Act
UNL College of Law
1875 N 42 St, Lincoln
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
For More Information:
Social Security 101
Hruska Law Center, 1st Floor Conf. Room
635 S. 14 St., Lincoln
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
For More Information:
“Sorry” Shouldn’t Be the Hardest Word:
The Evolving Liability Risks of Apologizing for Medical Errors
UNL College of Law
1875 N 42 St, Lincoln
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
For More Information:
Omaha Bar Association Presents:
Walk Through the Courts
Douglas County Courthouse
1701 Farnam St, Omaha
11:30 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.
For More Information:
Omaha Bar Association October Membership Dinner
With Featured Speaker:
Hon. Joseph Bataillon, U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska
Champions Run
13800 Eagle Run Dr, Omaha
5:30 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.
For More Information:


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This Day In History
October 9, 1977
Amy Alcott wins LPGA Houston Exchange Clubs Golf Classic

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