Bench Media

PEOPLE Committee

The purpose of the PEOPLE (Public Education Outreach Promoting the Law & Equity) Committee is to proactively inform and educate the public, including students, adults and members of news media, about the legal system. The Honorable Lyle Strom is Chair of the committee.

Under the PEOPLE umbrella are two committees: Civics Education and Bench Media. Civics Education is chaired by Judge John Gerrard, United States District Judge for the District of Nebraska. Bench Media is chaired by Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Heavican.

The Bench Media Committee is committed to ensuring a professional and positive working relationship among Nebraska lawyers, courts, and the media. The committee relies on the volunteer efforts of both the legal and media professionals.

A recent activity of the Bench Media Committee was the addition of the Student News Reporter Contest to the State High School Mock Trial Championship.

Other completed and ongoing activities include the following:

  • Nebraska Court Coverage Guidelines
  • Expanded news media coverage throughout the state with enhanced reporting on courts.
  • Amended the Presiding Judges Rule to allow judges experienced in dealing with the media to act as go-to resources for news reporters, as designated by the presiding judge.
  • Updated “News Reporters’ Guide to Nebraska Trial Court Procedures.” The resource to assist in writing news stories is available at Nebraska State Judicial Branch

An example of the Bench Media Committee's work is shown in the photos below from a pop-up class, Covering Nebraska Trial Courts, offered by the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications. The class was conducted at the NU College of Law. Pop-up classes provide 15 hours of instruction and one academic credit hour to UNL-enrolled students. "Pop-up classes provide students with a deep dive into new skills and new thinking, furthering our college's goal of producing career-ready, digitally-fluent professionals who can hit the ground running," said Amy Struthers, CoJMC Dean.

 

Uniform Court Rules and Practices –
Working Group

Media Education –
Working Group

Judges & Court Staff Education –
Working Group

Co-chairs: Justice Jeff Funke - Supreme Court and Lori Pilger, Lincoln Journal Star Co-chairs: Judge Todd Hutton - Sarpy County Court and Bill Kelly – NETV, Lincoln Co-chairs: Judge Jeff Wightman, County Court, Lexington; Judge Gary Randall – Retired District Court, Omaha and Rose Ann Shannon – Retired KETV 7, Omaha
Judge John Rademacher, County Court, Kearney Judge Elise White, Juvenile Court, Lincoln Judge Rick Schreiner, District Court, Beatrice
Judge Leigh Ann Retelsdorf, District Court, Omaha Judge Randin Roland, County Court, Sidney Judge Stephanie Hansen, County Court, Omaha
Judge Derek Weimer, District Court, Sidney Judge Tim Burns, District Court, Omaha Margery Beck, Associated Press, Omaha
Bob Mullin, Attorney, Omaha Steve Guenzel, Attorney, Lincoln Terry Waite, Attorney, North Platte
Shawn Renner, Attorney, Lincoln Ron Krause, Attorney, Omaha Paul Hammel, Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln
Melanie Whittamore-Mantzios, Attorney, Lincoln Maunette Loeks, Star Herald, Scottsbluff Tom Locher, Attorney, Omaha
Tom Riley, Attorney, Omaha Mikel Lauber, 1011 Now, Lincoln and Central Nebraska Gene Cotter, Ex-officio, Deputy Director of Operations, Nebraska Supreme Court
Jennifer Stehlik Ladman, Attorney, Pawnee City Dave Schroeder, KRVN Radio, Lexington Kelli Wood, Ex-officio, Judicial Branch Education Director, Nebraska Supreme Court
Matt Weesner, News Director Kearney - KHGI & Lincoln - KFXL Jim Timm, President/Executive Director Nebraska Broadcasters Association  
Todd Cooper, Omaha World-Herald Doris Huffman, Ex-officio, Executive Director, Nebraska State Bar Foundation  
Sheryl Connolly, Ex-officio, Trial Court Services Director Janet Bancroft, Ex-officio, Public Information Officer, Nebraska Supreme Court  
     

Resource Members:

Judge Lyle Strom, Retired District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, Omaha

Chief Judge John Gerrard, District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, Lincoln

Chief Justice Mike Heavican, Nebraska Supreme Court

Judge Susan Bazis, United States Magistrate Judge

Judge Jim Doyle, District Court, Lexington

Corey Steel, Ex-officio, Nebraska State Court Administrator

Dave Sommers, Ex-officio, OBA Executive Director

Updated 12/07/2020

UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications pop-up class on covering the courts.
UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications pop-up class on covering the courts.

County Judge Todd Hutton, 2nd Judicial District, discusses the importance of portraying the legal system accurately with UNL students at a pop-up class offered by the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the NU College of Law. 

UNL CoJMC pop-up class on covering the courts.
UNL CoJMC pop-up class on covering the courts.

Retired Holt County Judge Alan Brodbeck conducts a mock bond setting hearing and arraignment for students enrolled in a one-credit pop-up class at the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications. The course was held at the NU College of Law. 

UNL CoJMC pop-up class on covering the courts.
UNL CoJMC pop-up class on covering the courts.

Attorney Todd Lancaster discusses the importance of portraying the legal system accurately with UNL students at the NU College of Law. 

Bill Kelly talks with students about where to find background information for news stories.
Bill Kelly addresses the students.

Journalist Bill Kelly, a member of the Bar Foundation's Bench Media Committee, talks with UNL students about where to find background information for stories as part of a pop-up class on covering the courts offered by the UNL CoJMC at the NU College of Law. 

Retired Judge Paul Korslund talking to UNL students about the sentencing phase of a criminal proceeding.
Retired Judge Paul Korslund talking to UNL students about the sentencing phase of a criminal proceeding.
The prosecution and the defense: Patrick Condon and Joe Nigro.
The prosecution and the defense: Patrick Condon and Joe Nigro.
Chief Justice Heavican meeting with UNL students in the Pop-Up class on the courts.
Chief Justice Heavican meeting with UNL students in the Pop-Up class on the courts.
UNL students in the Nebraska Supreme Court Hearing Room.
UNL students in the Nebraska Supreme Court Hearing Room.

UNL students in a CoJMC pop-up class on the Nebraska courts sitting and standing by the Justices's seats in the Nebraska Supreme Court Chamber. With the students are, back row, from left, Justice Riko Bishop; Chief Justice Mike Heavican; Lori Pilger, courts reporter for the Lincoln Journal-Star; Dave Schroeder, news director KRVN Radio,  Lexington; John Bender, professor, UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Front row, far left, Rose Ann Shannon, retired KETV 7, Omaha.