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The three award recipients at the Nebraska Defense Counsel Association’s 2019 annual meeting and seminar show off their hardware at the La Vista Conference Center on June 7, 2019. Pictured from left are Master Emeritus Randy Goyette, Defense Counsel of the Year Dan Placzek and Master Emeritus Stephen S. Gealy.   (Photo by Scott Stewart)

Nebraska Criminal Defense Association
Three Attorneys Recognized at Annual Seminar

By Scott Stewart

The Daily Record

La Vista – The Nebraska Defense Counsel Association recently presented its 2019 awards.

Dan Placzek, a partner at Smith Johnson Baack Placzek Allen Connick & Hansen, was named Defense Counsel of the Year. 

   Two senior partners at Baylor Evnen, Randall L. Goyette and Stephen S. Gealy, received the Master Emeritus Award. 

The NDCA, which represents about 200 Nebraska attorneys whose primary practice is the defense of civil lawsuits, presented the awards following a luncheon at its annual meeting and seminar on June 7 at the La Vista Conference Center.

   At the meeting, the NDCA also elected its 2019-2020 officers. Julie Jorgensen, of counsel at Morrow Willnauer Church LLC, was elected president. Emily R. Motto, a partner at Baylor Evnen LLP, was elected president-elect. Tara T. Paulson, a partner of Rembolt Ludtke LLP, was elected treasurer. Cathy S. Trent-Vilim, a partner at Lamson Dugan & Murray LLP, is the organization’s immediate past president.

   The Defense Counsel of the Year award is given to an attorney who offers superior representation in civil defense matters, has success in trials and handles novel defense issues, while displaying ethics and leadership.

   Placzek was introduced by Jared Krejci, an associate at the Grand Island law firm. Krejci said Placzek mentors young lawyers, even those outside their firm.

   “He really cares about trying cases and that future generations know how to do that,” Krejci said. “His clients have been very well-served by his work.”

   Placzek said being a defense attorney is a great job because of the relationships you form, and he said he’s known some NDCA members for the past 30 years.

   “You develop these relationships, and you learn who you can trust and whose work you can count on,” Placzek said.

Placzek advised younger attorneys present to keep track of their trials over their career so they can be ready when honorary organizations or others ask for that information. He encouraged them to track dates, judges, opposing counsel, the trial court, how the case turned out and what the trial was worth.

   The Master Emeritus Award goes to NDCA members who have practiced more than 30 years with the highest degree of professionalism, ethics and leadership.

   Motto introduced the two recipients from Baylor Evnen, who both will be transitioning to of counsel status at the firm.

   “I can’t think of any persons more deserving than Randy Goyette and Steve Gealy,” Motto said.

   Goyette is a past Lincoln Bar Association president and former manager partner of the firm.

   “Randy is a truly lawyer’s lawyer, not only because he’s highly regarded in the area of professional liability defense, and routinely defends lawyers, but also because he’s a mentor, he’s a confidant and a counselor to everyone around him, both personally and professionally,” Motto said.

   Goyette said he appreciated the recognition, as well as the chance to share the spotlight.

   “It’s a wonderful award, and it’s particularly wonderful to receive it with Steve,” he said.

   Motto said Gealy is a natural educator and teacher.

   “His trial experience is second to none,” Motto said. “He teaches through storytelling, and he’s a master of developing trial theme and strategy.”

   Gealy said he appreciated the opportunities to learn at his firm.

   “I am truly humbled at this award because this organization has been something that has been dear to me from my earliest memories of the practice of law,” Gealy said.

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