– Photos by Lorraine Boyd
Horacio J. Wheelock was sworn in as the newest Douglas County District Court judge on Friday, Nov. 13, by District Court Judge Craig McDermott while a large crowd looked on in the Legislative Chambers. Wheelock is the only Hispanic judge on that bench today and is one of only two Hispanic judges on the bench in Nebraska, the other being Sarpy County Judge Stephanie A. Martinez, appointed in 2013. He replaces the Hon. Joseph Troia, who retired after 30 years on the bench.
Horacio J. Wheelock
Naturalized Nicaraguan-American
Becomes Newest District Court Judge

By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record

It would be hard to overestimate the pride and joy of Ligia and Horacio Wheelock as their son, Horacio, took the oath as a Douglas County District Court Judge.
His father had emigrated from Nicaragua on a work visa when his son was young. The younger Horacio became a naturalized citizen in the fifth grade.
Addressing the audience nearly filling the Legislative Chambers of the City County Building, Douglas County Judge Timothy Burns said when Wheelock arrived in the Douglas County Public Defender’s office as a law clerk, his first impression of him was of an “enthusiastic, bright, conscientious young man.”
But when Wheelock graduated from Creighton University School of Law in 2002, he accepted an offer as an assistant state attorney in Dade County, Miami, Fla. He and his wife, Lisa, soon returned to Omaha where he accepted a position in the Public Defender’s office while his wife completed medical school. They have a son, Michael.
Burns was his supervising attorney and said the job, and the lawyer, was “high energy and high octane.”
Wheelock moved on in 2005, first with Peck Law Firm in Omaha, litigating immigration cases (he’s fluent in Spanish), then with his own firm, where he focused on immigration law, criminal defense and civil litigation.

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Nebraska State Bar Announces
Upcoming Launch of Statewide
Lawyer Referral Website

In 2016, the Nebraska State Bar Association will re-establish its Lawyer Referral Service via a new website:
The new service will allow the NSBA to both provide attorneys with a low-cost marketing opportunity and to help connect members of the public with legal services.
Benefit to Attorneys
Every year, the public increasingly relies on the Internet to obtain information, NSBA Executive Director Liz Neeley said.
“The Nebraska Find-A-Lawyer Program will provide an extremely cost-effective method to market yourself and your services – registration is only $100 for dues-paying members of the NSBA and $300 for non-dues paying members,” she said.
The NSBA Find-A-Lawyer Program will allow members to create a personalized profile that can include a photo, practice areas, professional associations and memberships, etc.

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Nebraska Senator John McCollister (left) announces his plan to introduce a bill creating a pilot Veteran Treatment Court in Omaha. He was supported by Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine (center) and Lincoln attorney Eric Dillow, among others.

Veterans Treatment Court Omaha Pilot
Proposed by State Senator McCollister

By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record

On the eve of Veterans Day, District 20 Nebraska State Senator John McCollister called a news conference to announce his plans to introduce legislation to initiate a pilot program of a Veterans Treatment Court.
He was joined at the Legislative Chambers of the Omaha-Douglas Civic Center on November 10 by Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine and other supporters.
McCollister explained the purpose behind the legislation, acknowledging Virgil Patlan, former member of the Omaha Police Department and current member of the State Parole Board, as a very influential part of the push for this program.
The senator pointed out that Veteran Treatment Courts (VTC) operate in most states in the Midwest and there are more than 220 VTCs nationwide. Most VTCs are run by county or other local court systems, and are used to divert offenders into treatment programs instead of sending them to prison, he said.
McCollister noted, “less than one percent of Americans serve in the Armed Forces, but 25 to 30 percent of American prisons are populated by veterans.” Currently, about 11,000 veterans are being served by VTCs, saving taxpayers an estimated $248 million while achieving a 98-percent success rate. While there is no timetable at present, McCollister said he believes that when the bill is introduced at the next session, it will get “speedy handling.”

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Gov. Ricketts Names Stephanie Hansen
To Fourth Judicial County Judgeship

Governor Pete Ricketts recently announced his appointment of Stephanie R. Hansen to the Fourth Judicial County Court of Nebraska.
Hansen, 41, is currently Lead Attorney for the Sarpy County Attorney’s Office, where she previously served as a Senior Attorney and Domestic Violence Attorney.
Before her service in the Sarpy County Attorney’s Office, Hansen clerked for University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law Dean Susan Poser, as well as Polsky, Cope, Knapp, & Shiffermiller, a law firm based in Lincoln.
Hansen holds a bachelor of arts in biology from Hastings College and earned her juris doctorate from University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Law.  In 2008, she received the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Outstanding Law Enforcement Prosecutor Award.  She was the recipient of the Nebraska Coalition for Victims of Crime Allied Professionals Award in 2010.  Additionally, she was awarded the Kids First Award by Project Harmony this year.
The Fourth Judicial District consists of Douglas County. The primary place of office for the judicial vacancy is Omaha, Nebraska.
The vacancy is due to the retirement of Judge Joseph P. Caniglia.


Dornan, Lustgarten & Troia Welcomes
Two Associates to the Firm

Dornan, Lustgarten & Troia, PC, LLO recently announced the addition of two new associates to the firm as they further expand their areas of service to their clients.

Elizabeth K. Henthorn graduated, with high distinction, from the University of Nebraska College of Law with a concentration on business transaction. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Nebraska, where she majored in political science. Henthorn will focus her practice on the areas of business and white collar criminal defense.  Prior to joining Dornan, Lustgarten & Troia, she practiced in the area of financial transactions.
Katherine J. Doering is also a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Law and holds a master of education from the University of Missouri.  Doering will practice in the areas of criminal defense law and post-conviction issues.  Doering has interned with the California Appellate Project, and has participated in Moot Court Board, Order of the Barristers and the National Trial Team.
For more information regarding Dornan, Lustgarten & Troia, PC, LLO, please go to the firm’s website at:

Kathleen M. Schmidt Attorney at Law
Welcomes Engleman to the Firm

Todd O. Engleman has joined the family law practice firm of Kathleen M. Schmidt Attorney at Law in Omaha.  He most recently practiced with the law firm of Waite, McWha & Heng in North Platte, Neb., where he handled domestic, civil and criminal matters. He has also served as Deputy Lincoln County Attorney from 2001 to 2007, and was later named Chief Deputy Lincoln County Attorney from 2008 until 2012.   He has extensive litigation experience with broad knowledge in both criminal and civil matters.
Engleman received his bachelor of science degree, magna cum laude, in political science and history from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 1998.  He then graduated in 2001, cum laude, from Creighton University School of Law.
For more information regarding the law firm of Kathleen M. Schmidt, please go to:

After fostering Isaiah for five years, Pamela Montgomery is now officially his proud mother.

And Isaiah Makes Four
Dozens of Family Additions Realized

By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record

Fifty-seven young lives were changed forever – for the better – last weekend on Adoption Saturday in Douglas County.
Douglas County Nebraska Juvenile Court has participated in the national event for 16 consecutive years. Its stated purpose is to attract media attention to the need for more foster and adoptive homes for children in child welfare systems across the country.
The event’s website states, “We have had a wonderful media response each and every year, and as a result there has been an increase in the number of individuals willing to open their homes as foster and/or adoptive parents.”
Mission accomplished. But the need continues.

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– Photo by Lorraine Boyd
Matt Sgnilek of Kutak Rock’s Irvine/Los Angeles office presents the “California Weather Report” as fellow presenters Marcia Washkuhn (left) and Gigi O’Hara, both of Omaha, listen to his advice about the “regulatory flood.”

Extra, Extra! Up-to-the-Minute News
Presented to Kutak Rock Lawyers

Kutak Rock held its 2015 Employment Law Seminar – “The Rock Report: News You Can Use!” – on November 19 in Omaha. The all-day meeting for Kutak Rock employees covered everything from whistleblowing (by guest speaker UNL Prof. Richard Moberly) to legal developments on the gender gap in the workplace, LGBTQ issues, and religious accommodations. Attendees filled two adjoining rooms at the Scott Conference Center on the University of Nebraska Omaha south campus.

Nebraska Supreme Court
Justice Michael McCormack
To Retire at Year’s End

Nebraska Supreme Court Justice Michael McCormack is retiring effective January 1, 2016, after 18½ years of service. Justice McCormack represents the Fourth Judicial District which encompasses portions of the Sarpy and Douglas County areas.
“It has been my privilege and honor to serve as a member of the Nebraska Supreme Court … I have been privileged to sit on well over 3,000 cases, and have enjoyed the experience immensely,” said Justice McCormack in his retirement letter to Governor Ricketts.   “I leave the Court with gratitude to my colleagues on the Court for their mentorship, advice, and friendship.”  Justice McCormack also had high praise for the dedication of court staff.
Justice McCormack served as Deputy Public Defender in Douglas County, Nebraska for several years following his graduation from Creighton University School of Law in 1963.  He worked as a lawyer in private practice from 1966 until 1997, when he was appointed to the Nebraska Supreme Court by then-Governor Ben Nelson.
“Mike McCormack has worked to steadfastly deliver justice over the last 20 years as a member of the Nebraska Supreme Court,” said Chief Justice Mike Heavican. “He has also chaired the Judicial Resources Commission and the Dispute Resolution Advisory Council.  Most of all, Judge McCormack has been a great ambassador for the courts and for equal justice under the law. We will miss his perspective and his enthusiasm for the law.”
The first step in replacing Justice McCormack will be for the
Judicial Nominating Commission to announce the application deadline for the position. 

Daniel J. Gross Fund Helps
Needy Lawyers And Their Families

When a young Nebraska attorney died leaving little financial resources and a widow and their small children, her property taxes were paid by the Daniel J. Gross Fund.
When a lawyer in the state became a victim of a debilitating disease and couldn’t work, overdue medical and utility bills were cleared up by the Daniel J. Gross Fund.

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Tribal Court Judge Patrick Runge takes us on a tour of the new courtroom, starting with the bench carved by a local artist.                                        – Photo by Lorraine Boyd

Omaha Attorney Patrick Runge Does
Double Duty as Chief Judge of Both
Winnebago and Ponca Tribal Courts

By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record

A coat rack sits in the corner of the small office of the chief judge of Winnebago Tribal Court. On it hangs a judge’s robe, colorfully embellished by a tribal member, adorned with meaningful coins specifically used for a female judge. It is beautiful, but now unused. It stays as a fond memory.

Life takes unpredictable twists and turns, often derailing a person’s carefully laid plans.
For Patrick Runge, a chance encounter in 1994 with another attorney at the onset of his legal career right after law school changed his life forever.
He had just opened his own family law practice in Omaha. He had a divorce case with Barbara Kueny as opposing counsel.
“The divorce settled quickly, but Barb remembered me as a struggling new attorney. She was the public defender in Winnebago, Neb., and shortly thereafter I got court appointment work as a conflict defense attorney,” Runge recalled.

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NSBA: The Welcome Mat is Out
Nebraska lawyers have six new opportunities to connect with others sharing practice area interests.  Four of the opportunities are new sections – Appellate Practice, Health Law, Indian Law, and Limited Scope Representation – all approved by the House of Delegates in November.  Another section – Taxation – now has members for the first time in its history.  Finally, the Business Law Section has created a Franchise Committee. All six groups are welcoming new members and planning ways to boost member skills, networks and opportunities. 

    “These new sections demonstrate NSBA’s commitment to meeting the needs of Nebraska lawyers,” notes Tom Maul, NSBA President. 
    “The practice of law is evolving, with many lawyers specializing in a few practice areas.  They value opportunities to network with their peers as well as plan and attend more advanced continuing education.  NSBA sections can help lawyers advance their skills and their practices,” Maul added.

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From left, members of the Inserra and Kelley law firm tried out their 2015 Lawyers Against Hunger shirts: John Inserra, Nate Limas, Jill Limas, Randy Mendlik, Shelly White, Sharon Kelley, Tammy Findley and Kimberly Ives. Craig Kelley was out of town when the photo was taken.

Frozen Turkeys Thaw Hearts
By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record

It’s the fourth year for Inserra & Kelley law firm’s turkey giveaway, a tradition they’d love to share with other law firms. It’s called Lawyers Against Hunger – Fight Hunger in the Heartland.
On Tuesday, the firm owners and employees, their children and other volunteers, presented free frozen turkeys to individuals and families in need. This year, 400 turkeys flew off the big truck in the Family Fare Supermarket parking lot at 51st and Harrison.
Food Bank for the Heartland identified and handed out the voucher tickets in advance to those in need.
This year, the weather fully cooperated just as it had on the day of the first event, making it ideal for the team to dress in their event T-shirts and hoodies.
Last year, Craig Kelley posted this on their Legal Examiner blog – and their Facebook page – after last year’s giveaway:
“Inserra & Kelley is proud to have founded Lawyers Against Hunger in Nebraska in 2012 … We so enjoyed seeing the faces and smiles of those picking up their turkeys, and the gratitude of the recipients was an amazing and humbling way to kick off Thanksgiving with our own families. All of us at Inserra & Kelley wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving and wonderful holiday season!”
To which partner John Inserra added, “It’s a very fulfilling event. And by involving our families, we teach the importance of giving to those less fortunate. We are looking for other law firms, in Omaha and across the state, to join us in participating in the national Lawyers Against Hunger event.”


Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Chief Judge William J. Riley (center, back) takes his turn at the table, where eager veterans and new lawyers alike pepper him with questions about the court behind the scene.
Planets Collide at Court of Appeals Meet
By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record

The program’s title should have tipped people off that this was going to be something different: “JUDGES ARE FROM MARS, LAWYERS ARE FROM VENUS: Conversations with Judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.”
The Eighth Circuit Bar Association and the Omaha Bar Association teamed up November 17 to present a unique program featuring Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge William J. Riley of Omaha; Senior Judge C. Arlen Beam of Lincoln; Judge Jane Kelly of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Clerk of Court Michael E. Gans, St. Louis, Mo.
Dividing participant seating into four tables (registration was limited to about 40 people), the program utilized a “speed-dating” format to explore questions about effective practice in the Eighth Circuit. The format allowed each attendee face time with all three judges and the clerk as well.

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Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative
Holds Regional Meets

Victim Specialist Kathy Thomsen of the Omaha Division of the FBI and Stephen O’Meara, Nebraska’s Human Trafficking Coordinator, brought participants up to date on the government’s development and implementation of a statewide strategic plan to combat human trafficking, including enforcement, victim services and public awareness.
Participants heard presentations on the implementation of “Normalcy” provisions in the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act and Indian Child Welfare Act legislative changes. They later reviewed the latest statistics for their district teams, then split into groups to discuss their updates.
Similar programs were held earlier this month in the regions of  O’Neill, Hastings and Kimball, Nebraska.

– Photos by Lorraine Boyd
From left: Lynn Castrianno, director Continuous Quality Improvement & Data Management; Clinical Manager Ellen McElderry and Tara Minardi, all of Nebraska Families Collaborative, were among nearly 250 registrants at the Omaha meeting of the Nebraska Supreme Court 2015 Regional Conference of “Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative,” held in LaVista on November 13.  

Ken Hartman visits with a colleague in his office at Baird Holm.  
                                                                                               – Photo by Michael Tran
Kenneth Hartman:
‘Mentoring is Crucial to a Young Lawyer’

By Julien Fielding
The Daily Record

It was a constitutional law course at the University of Nebraska at Kearney that convinced Ken Hartman a legal profession was in his future.
“I had not thought of becoming an attorney,” he said. “Business administration sounded like it offered a lot of different options – it was better than an English or math degree – but I hadn’t found my niche. I always enjoyed politics and government, so I had a talk with the head of the political science department, Peter Longo, at UNK. I took his constitutional law course, and I really started enjoying it. It fostered in me a love of the law, and that led to law school.”

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Meetings & Seminars
For the Legal Community


Guardianship in Nebraska: A Walk Through the Woods
Roman Hruska Law Center
1875 N 42 St, Lincoln
8:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
For More Information:
Omaha Bar Association Presents:
Lawyer Referral Service CLE:
Technology You Should Be Using But Aren’t
Omaha Marriott (Regency)
10220 Regency Cir, Omaha
1:30 p.m. – 4:05 p.m.
For More Information:
The Omaha Barristers Present:
The Barristers Christmas Show
The Scoular Ballroom
2027 Dodge St, Omaha
5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
For More Information:
Call Joy Suder at 402-933-9865 or



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