Alia Conley / World-Herald
About three out of every four sexual assault kits booked into evidence at the Omaha Police Department have not been tested for DNA, authorities estimate.
A $1.9 million federal grant will let the department begin to catch up on the backlog of sexual assault kits — up to 1,500 of them — that haven’t been tested.
By Emily Nohr / World-Herald staff writer
November 6, 2018
Omaha’s police chief wants to tweak a law designed to make grand juries more open.
Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said a bill by State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha two years ago had the unintended consequence of making public a grand jury’s final report in cases when an officer is indicted.
Evidence, including transcripts and exhibits, should be released, Schmaderer said, but not immediately. That information should be released after an officer’s criminal proceedings are over, he said.
“Law enforcement officers are like everybody else,” he said. “They deserve proper due process in their cases, and this little cleanup will ensure that takes place.”
Chambers said that at first blush, the proposal sounds reasonable, but he promised to take a “microscopic-type” look at any proposed legislation.
“I’m willing to look at it and talk to (Schmaderer),” Chambers said. “He has always shown that he is acting in good faith. He knows that I am, too.”
The proposal is one of several under consideration to be City of Omaha priorities for the 2019 session of the Nebraska Legislature. On Tuesday, the City Council will hold a public hearing and vote on whether to advocate for the bills when state senators convene at the State Capitol in January. Read More.
By Todd Cooper / World-Herald staff writer
November 6, 2018
The judge who recused himself in a former Millard South administrator’s sexual assault case said there’s a simple reason he stepped aside: An attorney in the case once represented the judge.
Douglas County District Judge Duane Dougherty released that reasoning after prosecutors requested last week that he explain why he recused himself nine months after being assigned the case of Matt Fedde, the former assistant high school principal who sexually assaulted a 15-year-old student at the school.
Dougherty refused to reconsider his recusal, saying it was in the best interests of justice for him to hand off the case. He cited the Nebraska Code of Judicial Conduct, which says “a judge shall disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” For more information.
Trump pledged on Wednesday to put an “extremely big dent” in the scourge of drug addiction in America by signing a bipartisan bill from Congress — and supported by all five members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation — intended to attack the opioid crisis.
Closer to home, the Nebraska State Patrol has seized more than 176 pounds of fentanyl in the past year. In 2018 alone, more than 40 pounds of heroin and 2,000 dosage units of illegally possessed prescription drugs have been seized. Read More.
LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts appointed Andrew R. Lange of Waverly to the County Court of the Fifth Judicial District.
Lange, 43, is currently the Chief Deputy Attorney for Saunders County. In his role, Lange assists in every aspect of the Saunders County Attorney’s Office while focusing on criminal prosecution, juvenile law, mental health commitments, and child support enforcement. Lange also often acts as Special Prosecutor for various counties throughout the Fifth Judicial District.
Before serving as Chief Deputy Attorney, Lange was an Adjunct Legal Professor at Doane University and an Associate Attorney for Seiler & Paker P.C., L.L.O. For More Information.
Lange holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and public administration from Doane University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Nebraska College of Law.
LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts appointed James M. Masteller of Omaha to the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District.
Masteller, 45, currently serves as a Deputy County Attorney for Douglas County. In his 17 years with the Douglas County Attorney’s Office, Masteller has worked in the Juvenile and Criminal Divisions while trying 58 jury trials. He currently serves as a Team Leader supervising six Deputy County Attorneys in the Criminal Division.
Before serving as Deputy County Attorney, Masteller was a Federal Judicial Law Clerk for the Honorable Thomas M. Shanahan with the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. More Information.
LORI PILGER Lincoln Journal Star | Updated
The Department of Justice has awarded Nebraska more than $1.3 million in grant money to combat the opioid crisis.
It comes as part of $320 million the Justice Department awarded nationally to help those most directly impacted by the crisis, including crime victims, children, families and first responders.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the money will go to prevention, treatment and enforcement.
Nebraska’s portion, $1,331,000, will be given to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services ($750,000), the Lancaster County Adult Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program ($500,000), and the Sarpy County Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program ($81,000).
LAUREN WAGNER For the Lincoln Journal Star,
When Megan Johnson escaped sex trafficking 10 years ago, there was hardly anyone who could help her.
“I remember thinking to myself, ‘I don’t have that much money,’” said Johnson, who is now the street outreach director at I’ve Got A Name. “I (also) remember thinking, ‘What do I do now?’”
It’s still a question most victims are faced with when they get out of sex trafficking, and one with no easy answer in a state that lacks many of the long-term resources needed for victims to recover and stay out of sex trafficking. Read More.
Omaha World Herald Editorial September 9, 2018
The American legal system has an all-important obligation to deliver justice. When a defendant is found guilty of a heinous crime and of inflicting terrible suffering, for example, society needs to mete out serious punishment. Justice needs to be served.
But where, an Omaha father rightly asks, is the justice for his family in the wake of legal developments last week?
Kay LeFlore’s son — decorated Army Sgt. Kyle LeFlore — was gunned down in Omaha in January, leaving behind a wife and a 6-year-old son. But now the defendant, Larry Goynes, no longer faces first-degree murder charges in the case. The reason: The state’s key witness backed out.
Nebraska County Attorneys Association
P.O. Box 80044
Lincoln, NE 68501