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Slipping backward: The Nebraska Supreme Court, 1938--1995

James Watt Hewitt, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation examines the history of the Supreme Court of Nebraska under the leadership of four Chief Justices, Robert G. Simmons, 1938 to 1963; Paul White, 1963 to 1978; Norman Krivosha, 1978–1987; William C. Hastings, 1987–1995. ^ The progression of the Supreme Court from an error-correcting court to a modern body has been scrutinized. The advent of an intermediate Court of Appeals, interposed between the Supreme Court and the trial courts has been examined. Importantly, the decline of the court as an institution respected by the bar and the public has been dissected, and the reasons for the decline discussed. ^ All cases decided by each of the four courts have been examined, and jurisprudential trends have been discussed. The impact of decisions of the United States Supreme Court on Nebraska is also covered at length, as well as the changing nature of cases Nebraska's Supreme Court handled. ^ The judges comprising the court during the period of study are discussed, as are the four courts as a whole. Individual judges are analyzed and ranked in three categories: outstanding, acceptable and not acceptable, and the four courts are also ranked, with the reasons for the rankings given. Rankings take into consideration the work output of all members; each judge's record of majority opinions written, dissents rendered and concurrences offered, the relationships of the judges, and their personal idiosyncrasies. ^ The reputation of the court, its collegiality, the fractionalization of the court, together with ill-considered opinions of the court, especially ones generating publicity and controversy, have been examined. The relationship of the court to the integrated Nebraska State Bar Association is reviewed. Suggestions for repairing the reputation of the court are set forth in a conclusion. ^

Subject Area

History, United States|Law

Recommended Citation

Hewitt, James Watt, "Slipping backward: The Nebraska Supreme Court, 1938--1995" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3092553.