IN BRIEF AUGUST 2020 AUGUST 2020
NEBRASKA PARALEGAL ASSOCIATION
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IN THIS ISSUE: From the President ...... 1 From the Editor ............ 2 Save the Dates ............ 2 NALA News .................. 3 NALA Affiliate Award Winner .......................... 5 District I News .............. 7 District II News ............. 8 Getting to Know Your Officers....................... 11 New Members ........... 12 Article: Court Technology in Nebraska: In a Pandemic and Beyond ...................... 14 Student Education Award ........................ 22 Getting to Know Your Committee Chairs ..... 23 Article: COVID-19 Hits Home ......................... 24 Fall Seminar Info ........ 26
FROM THE PRESIDENT: KIMBERLY BROWN, ACP In my final message to you as President, I want to thank you for allowing me to lead our organization in 2020 and to work with such an amazing Board of Directors. What a year it has been! 2020 has taught us many lessons, including among other things: patience, adaptation, and grace. The dictionary describes adaptation as “becoming better suited to its environment,” patience as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset,” and grace as “courteous goodwill.” While we may not have patience, adaptation, and grace in all situations, paralegals and NePA certainly excel in these areas. Our Board of Directors adapted to holding all of its events virtually. Our members exhibited patience while the Board of Directors adapted to this new way of presenting our events. The Board of Directors and the members had grace with me as I navigated a crazy year. We have learned to have grace with our attorneys, staff, and our families. We should all be proud of how we have handled 2020. Have you realized that something that was important to you in 2019 may have taken a backseat while you built your relationships stronger in 2020? Have you realized that while something may have bothered you in 2019, it did not bother you in 2020? Keep patience, adaptation, and grace in the forefront of your mind for the upcoming holiday season and 2021. I hope you all take a little time for yourselves in the last quarter of the year, and while we are perfectionists, please have patience and grace with yourself. We all need a little more of that in our lives. I leave you to Angel Younger, our incoming President, from Kutak Rock. Angel has been an active leader in NePA for many years and will lead NePA into areas where it has never been before. Blessings to Angel as she embarks in this new journey and I look forward to working with NePA in the role of Past President. #2021HEREWECOME
REGISTER FOR EVENTS AT: http:// nebraskaparalegal.org
IN BRIEF FROM THE EDITOR
Hello fellow paralegals! I hope you are staying safe and healthy! As you can see, there have been some changes to the layout of this issue of the In Brief! We will probably work out some kinks along the way, but we are excited for the new look and hope you are too!
Board Meetings (5:30-7:30pm): October 6, 2020 (Virtual)
Our NePA board members have been working seamlessly to keep you all updated virtually. We are so pleased with the turnout to our virtual events by our members and appreciate the support you have given NePA this year, We thank our members for participating and appreciate our sponsors. Please know that NePA is grateful for your contribution. As always, feel free to reach out to any of our board members with questions, suggestions, or concerns. If you have corrections regarding this issue or have suggestions for future content, please forward them to me at email@example.com.
PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE MEMBERS Casey Ochs, CP, Chair Kimberly Brown, ACP Kim Hansen Amber Roberts, ACP
SAVE THE DATES September 16, 2020: Fall Seminar (CLE) September 17, 2020: Annual Membership Meeting October 28, 2020: District I (CLE) - Notary Tips, Tricks and Things to Avoid
November 2, 2020: District II (CLE) - Prosecuting Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Cases November 3, 2020: Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Event November 18, 2020: District I (CLE) - Working for Justice for All February 17, 2021: District I & II (CLE) - Freedom of the Press v. Privacy Rights April 23, 2021: Spring Seminar (Mahoney State Park) June 8, 2021: Diversity & Inclusion Event (Scott Conference Center) September 22-23, 2021: Fall Seminar & Annual Membership Meeting (Scott Conference Center)
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NALA NEWS: CARYN REDDING, CP It’s hard to believe that summer is fading away, and fall is right around the corner. Honestly, it can’t come fast enough. Fall is my favorite time of year.
day; Step outside your comfort zone and Lead; Leave the world in a better place than when you arrived; and, Take time to Laugh, don’t take yourself or the things around you too seriously. Great words to remember and put into In the meantime, NALA has been very busy. As your daily routine! you know, NALA held its National Conference virtually in July. There was certainly no shortage As you know, NePA selected Amber K. Roberts, of topics/sessions to choose from, and, as usual, ACP as our Affiliate Association Award winner. the conference was fantastic! I have to admit, She received her recognition during the Affiliate though, I do miss being at the conference site, Associations Annual Meeting. speaking with vendors, and meeting fellow paralegals from around the country. However, NALA certainly did not disappoint! As your NALA Liaison, I was very impressed with the way the conference was changed to a virtual conference in such a short period of time. It took a little effort on my part to understand the nuances of logging in, getting started, and choosing the sessions I wanted to attend, but I managed. Again this year, you could choose any session you wanted to attend. You simply needed to check in on the presentation page to obtain CLE credit. I like to choose a myriad of topics, especially outside my area of practice, because you learn so much from the speakers. On the first day, I enjoyed The Future of the 1st Amendment, Hot Issues in Employment Law, and, Immigration and Human Trafficking. There was so much information packed into these sessions, I felt like my brain might explode. The rest of the conference was equally packed full of interesting topics and great speakers. Kelly LaGrave was this year’s recipient of the President’s Award. Her speech was wonderful and included what she said were her 6 L’s: Live your life to the fullest; Love with all you heart; Never stop Learning, learn one new thing a
I also attended the Annual Membership Meeting, Meet and Greet the Certifying Board, and the Installation of Officers. Since the conference, NALA has been busy as well. Did you know that NALA is offering a discount on membership for this upcoming year? Members of affiliated associations will receive 25% off a NALA Active membership fee. If you haven’t already taken advantage of this opportunity, do so now! NEW Digital Badges: Have you claimed yours yet? New from NALA, these badges allow you to share your NALA achievements online. Visit NALA’s website for more information on your badges and how to claim them.
VOLUME MMXX, ISSUE 3 NALA NEWS CONTINUED NALA has a new award: the Certified Paralegal Champion Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding achievement by an individual or by a NALA Affiliated Association in promoting and advancing NALA's Certified Paralegal Program within the legal profession. The deadline to nominate someone was September 1st. Although, we didn’t submit a nomination this year, if you have someone in mind, let me know! We can submit one next year. Finally, please keep in mind the future NALA Conference dates. If you haven’t been to a conference, I cannot express enough how fantastic it is, and how much information you can obtain at the conference. It is well worth the investment. Louisville, KY in 2021; Phoenix, AZ in 2022; Boston, MA in 2023; and, Atlantic City, NJ in 2025. As always, visit NALA’s website for additional information and upcoming events, including the webinars.
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2020 NALA AFFILIATE AWARD RECIPIENT
Amber Roberts, ACP joined NePA in 2011. In the nine years since, Amber has provided valuable service to NePA and its members. She has served on the Board of Directors as Publications Editor, NALA Liaison, President Elect, President and Past President. As President Elect, Amber chaired the Continuing Legal Education Committee and as Past President she’s currently serving as Chair of the Sponsorship Committee. When COVID-19 hit, Amber stepped right in and equipped NePA with the tools to continue offering its CLEs virtually. Amber has been on our Relay for Life team, the Legal Beagles, since shortly after she joined NePA and has been active in organizing fundraisers for our team including several trips to the Corky Canvas where attendees learn to paint festive canvases and selling handmade cards. Amber has also served on numerous other committees including Technology, Membership, Student Membership, Public Relations and Publications. On a national level, Amber is a graduate of NALA’s LEAP program and has also presented at two of NePA’s Affiliate Exchange presentations. In fact, she was responsible for all three of NePA’s proposals that have been accepted by NALA over the past five years. We look forward to Amber’s continued volunteer work at the local and national level for many years to come! It is with our distinct pleasure to announce Amber Roberts as NePA’s 2020 NALA Affiliate Award recipient. It goes without saying that Amber always goes above and beyond and NePA would truly be lost without her.
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DISTRICT I NEWS: Courtney Pfeiffer, ACP As summer comes to a close, it is time to start thinking about fall schedules. Make sure you save the date for NePAâ€™s upcoming fall and winter events! As many of you are aware, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, NePA has made the decision to go virtual. Stay tuned for more details to come on the following events being hosted on Zoom. Save the Date: October 28, 2020 Notary Tips, Tricks and Things to Avoid, Guest Speaker, NE Secretary of State Office (CLE) November 18, 2020 Working for Justice for All, Robbie McEwen, Nebraska Appleseed (CLE)
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DISTRICT II NEWS: Deb O’Brien Ryan Post, Civil Litigation Bureau Chief for the Nebraska Department of Justice and my supervisor, gave a very enlightening presentation on the duties of the Civil Division of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office. The Civil Division wears many hats, but a main responsibility of this division is to defend all civil lawsuits filed against the State of Nebraska, which includes elected and appointed officials, state employees, and state agencies to the tune of approximately 300 new cases per year. Along with these duties and many more, the work is accomplished with 11 Assistant Attorney Generals and 2 Paralegals. Ryan also touched on the types of cases the Civil Division handles such as Federal Court challenges to the Nebraska Constitution, civil rights lawsuits, State employee terminations and disciplinary sanctions, negligence or torts alleged by State employees, inmate lawsuits, labor disputes and suits against other branches of government including judges or State Senators, and Worker’s Compensation Court claims. These are just a portion of what the Civil Division handles. Lastly, Ryan spoke about the responsibilities of the Attorney General’s Office regarding the current pandemic. Specifically, who can declare an emergency, Directed Health Measures and how this has affected local government. I personally work mostly with Worker’s Compensation Court lawsuits and some general civil litigation, but it is truly a busy place, and I greatly enjoy the people I work with. All in all, it is never a boring place at the Civil Division of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office. Major duties of Nebraska Department of Justice: •
Uphold and defend the Constitution and law of Nebraska
Provide skilled assistance to local prosecutors
Prosecute murder, sexual assault, and child sexual assault
Advise state officials and agencies on legal compliance
Prosecute consumer fraud and deceptive trade practices
Defend Nebraska in disputes over borders or water rights
Pursue disciplinary actions when necessary against health care professionals who endanger the public
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GETTING TO KNOW YOUR OFFICERS — KELLY ELDER, ACP
How did you end up in the paralegal more leadership positions, so this was field? the perfect opportunity to do just that and also give back to the orI attended College of Saint Mary on ganization that I’ve been a part of a sports scholarship, and had no for many years. idea what I wanted to major in or What has been the greatest benefit what kind of ca- of being a member of NePA? reer I wanted. The admissions coun- As paralegals we are so lucky to selor asked if I have an organization like NePA supwould be interest- porting our career field. The benefits ed in taking an are endless, but I think the greatest is intro to paralegal just having this amazing and responcourse my first se- sive resource at our fingertips whethmester, so I gave it er you’re looking for continuing legal a try. I love to education, professional developwrite, debate, and ment, networking, mentoring, a new solve logic puzzles, job opportunity, or support as a stuso it was a natural dent or member. fit from the start. I enjoyed every What advice do you have for those class, case brief, looking to enter the paralegal field? and mock trial, so I knew this would be an interesting and rewarding career field for me. How did you become involved in NePA?
I would advise those looking to enter the paralegal field to take time to explore different opportunities and talk to several paralegals already working in the field (a great place to start is with a local paralegal organization, like NePA). Your experience as a paralegal can vary greatly depending on the type of law you’re involved with, whether you work for a small or large law firm or corporation, and the attorney(ies) you work with. Finding the right fit will help ensure that you will be satisfied with your career choice!
I became a member of NePA when I started working at Mutual of Omaha 15 years ago. The leadership of our law department has always been very supportive of professional development and acknowledged the important role paralegals serve on our team. We are encouraged to attend NePA’s events and participate in the What is your favorite part of your job? organization. I love that my job is intellectually What made you decide to join the challenging. Innovative thinking and problem solving skills are useful as Board? laws and regulations are everTiming is everything, and the time changing, contract terms are always was right. I had just finished up my being sharpened, and new litigation second master’s degree in Organiza- tactics and trends are constantly detional Leadership when the oppor- veloping. tunity was presented to me. One of my professional goals was to take on
ACTIVE SUSAN WILLIS - Legal Aid of Nebraska EVE GILBERT - Mutual of Omaha KAYLEIGH MASHEK Atwood, Holsten, Brown, Deaver & Spier
STACY GARGES - Mutual of Omaha KELSEY SKEY - CPT Group, Inc. TYLER PILANT - ABM Circle Enterprise
STUDENT ALEXANDER PLYMALE Metropolitan Community College SARA FOX - Metropolitan Community College NATALIE STERNS - Metropolitan Community College
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COURT TECHNOLOGY IN NEBRASKA: IN A PANDEMIC AND BEYOND
Pandemic When, months ago, I agreed to write an article on court technology, I did not foresee that I would be doing so in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic (during late March as I write this). Of course, as the Chief Justice has recently explained elsewhere, Nebraska’s Judicial Branch was already planning for such an event, including hosting a summit on pandemic preparedness last year at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. That planning made possible an immediate response. While we are still learning from actual events, two things are already clear: first, technology has enabled all of our courts to operate during this crisis in ways we could not have done only a few years ago; and second, when this pandemic is over, technology in our courts will be universally adopted and more robust than ever. The courts’ response to the pandemic has been and will continue to be a team effort. The Nebraska Supreme Court has emphatically rejected a one-size-fits-all approach. The innovation and leadership of our trial judges and those
in the Administrative Office of the Courts and Probation, have certainly been outstanding. Our relatively small technology staff, supported by county-based resources, have responded above and beyond expectations. The Supreme Court’s web site serves as a central repository of current pandemic information from our trial courts across the state and from the Supreme Court and our administrative staff. At the outset, the Supreme Court implemented this site immediately to provide total transparency to judges, court staff, lawyers, litigants, and the general public. We have furnished additional equipment and training, mainly through webinars, to enable court staff to operate from remote locations. Counties have done likewise. The Nebraska Supreme Court’s Technology Committee provides ideas for specific uses of technology and feedback regarding our successes and shortcomings. We have empowered our trial judges and local court staff to implement procedures that make sense for their specific situations. Reports indicate that the trial judges and court staff have stepped up and provided local leadership. In the trial courts, JUSTICE (with expanded access through Nebraska.gov) enables operations to continue, whether from a courthouse or remotely. E-filing, e-notice, and e-service sustain mission-critical functions. Video technology enables judges, lawyers, and litigants to accomplish hearings necessary to meet mandated time schedules. Flexibility and innovation have flourished. I expect this to continue.
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COURT TECHNOLOGY IN NEBRASKA: IN A PANDEMIC AND BEYOND CONTINUED In the appellate courts, technology enables both the Supreme Court and the Nebraska Court of Appeals to operate with only minimal disruption. Readers of this publication will be familiar with access to SCCALES, the appellate courts’ equivalent to JUSTICE, through Nebraska.gov. The Clerk of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals uses this system to store our records electronically and to disseminate the vast majority of notices and documents in electronic form.
Limited e-filing capability: E-filing was available only in the county and district courts, only for civil and criminal cases, and not for all subtypes of the civil and criminal dockets. In other words, in many types of cases, e-filing was simply not available; filing in paper was the only option. No court e-notice: While some filings could be made electronically, transmission of court orders and notices was limited to paper documents transmitted by postal mail.
Case transfers done manually: Transfers of casTo emphasize how technology has changed, es from one county court or district court to anenabling the Judicial Branch to adapt to emerother court at the same level in a different gency pandemic conditions, one need only county required court staff to copy the paper recall the limitations existing five years ago. file or print an electronic file to paper, manually Then: certify the documents, physically box them up, and mail them to the other court. The receiving Internet bandwidth: The bandwidth for many court’s staff had to receive them in the mail, county courthouses was woefully inadequate unbox them, file stamp them, and, if they were and many others were merely marginal. Bandto be used in electronic form, scan and enter width measures the capacity to move data, in them into that court’s register. any form, through a network. The best analogy describes bandwidth as the diameter of a pipe: Appeals also manually transmitted in paper: the larger the pipe, the more data can be Essentially the same manual processes were removed through the pipe at a given speed. Fi- quired in submitting appeals from county court ber-based pipes transmit data at close to the to district court, or from either county or district speed of light. The bandwidth in many court- court to either the Supreme Court or Court of houses failed to support video communication Appeals. at any adequate resolution with reasonable Desktop computers: Court staff generally used reliability. desktop systems, typically with a tower or miniComplicated video conferencing software: Vid- tower, which were not readily portable. eo conferencing software generally required No web-based tools for trial judges: The only specific software (a client application) to be access for trial judges to JUSTICE used software installed on each user’s machine. The software that emulated the original “green screens” typihad a relatively steep learning curve. It recally used by court clerks. Judges “reported” quired significant training and a fairly high level that this was not user friendly, especially for of technical support. those who were not part of the Judicial Branch when JUSTICE was first implemented. Today, the
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COURT TECHNOLOGY IN NEBRASKA: IN A PANDEMIC AND BEYOND CONTINUED situation is dramatically different. Now: Improved bandwidth: Bandwidth everywhere is much better than before, but there are still locations needing improvement. Our technology staff assures me that video conferencing is possible at every location. As contracts renew, the Supreme Court’s technology staff actively pursues upgrading bandwidth. Sometimes, we are still limited by the capacity offered by local providers. But overall, the situation is greatly improved. Improved video conferencing software: Just as business and personal users have access to much better video conferencing software, so do courts. Often, the only user employing a client application on a specific computer is the organizer of a conference or hearing. All of the other users can join and participate in video conferences or hearings using standard Internet browsers. Some of the applications are entirely web-based;(i.e., neither an organizer nor a user needs to install specific software on his or her machine). Those applications run only through an Internet browser. On the whole, video conferencing is much more user friendly, with little or no learning curve.
county court to district court flow electronically and automatically. Appeal docketing and transcripts automated: Transmission of everything necessary to docket an appeal flows electronically from JUSTICE to SCCALES. Transcripts of filings are completed by the lower court’s staff checking boxes in the software, which then automatically compiles, numbers, indexes, and bookmarks the electronic transcript. The system then automatically files the transcript in JUSTICE and transmits it to the appellate court, where it is e-filed. Laptops widely used: The Supreme Court has furnished or offered state laptops to judges in the county courts, district courts, and separate juvenile courts. Many of the computers used by local court staff have transitioned from desktop systems to laptops with monitors, keyboards, and other peripheral devices suitable for use in the court office or courtroom. But the laptops are readily portable to remote locations.
Judge Portal: Trial judges now have a webbased tool to interact with JUSTICE without “green screen” emulation. This provided a badly needed instrument for district judges. The Judge Portal enables judges, from any location and on any device, to view electronic case files, presentence or predisposition reports, and Expanded e-filing types: Now, e-filing has exDHHS case plans. Judges can also enter docket panded into probate and traffic cases and has notes and create and sign orders directly from been implemented in the Nebraska Workers’ the portal. Compensation Court and in both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. These tools have empowered judges and court staff to rapidly adapt to operations from home E-notice: Orders and notices are emailed autoor elsewhere. Of course, some court functions matically from both JUSTICE and SCCALES. have been postponed because of social disTransfers and bind-overs automated: Case tancing requirements. But, depending on the transfers from one county to another are done length of the pandemic conditions, I expect within JUSTICE. Bind overs in criminal cases from
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COURT TECHNOLOGY IN NEBRASKA: IN A PANDEMIC AND BEYOND CONTINUED courts to use technology in new and innovative where the judge’s law clerks work during the ways to ensure that essential functions of the emergency. When the virus broke out in LinJudicial Branch are carried out. coln, both of my judicial law clerks began working from home - one from Lincoln and the other While the use of technology in the trial courts is from Omaha. In the last equipment refresh, often readily apparent, most readers do not they both had switched from tower worksee the technology being used internally in the stations to laptops. With their laptops, our Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Each apSharePoint system, electronic legal research, pellate court uses a web-based, SharePoint sysand Internet access from home, they possess tem to organize case assignments, circulate the tools to work remotely. The administrative briefs, motions, transcripts, bills of exceptions, assistant whom I share with Justice Freudenproposed opinions, and internal reports; vote berg, using her court laptop and our SharePoint on opinions and reports; and distribute the system, has been working mostly from home. court’s output to SCCALES and the courts’ My chambers utilizes Skype for Business for inOnline Library - the permanent repository of stant messaging and instant video conferpublished opinions. All briefs, motions, and reences. We email frequently. We use SharePoint sponses are submitted electronically. The apto collaborate on opinions and reports. Of pellate courts appreciate the lawyers using apcourse, I would prefer to have my administrapellate e-filing, as e-filed documents are easier tive assistant and judicial law clerks in the next to process, read, search, and consult. (More room. I hope that again becomes feasible and more lawyers are discovering the benefits soon. But in the midst of the crisis, our work conof e-filing briefs and motions.) Briefs and motinues unabated. tions submitted in paper are converted to electronic documents. Automated transcripts flow Projects in Progress from the trial courts. Unofficial electronic bills of For many years, the Supreme Court Technology exception are generally available. Each appelCommittee has engaged in strategic planning, late court has its own independent SharePoint with a broad vision for improving court technolsystem, customized to meet the specific needs ogy, comprehensive strategic objectives, and of each court. The Supreme Court’s SharePoint specific projects and initiatives with priorities system uses the same technology and proceand measurable goals. We have consistently dures to serve all seven chambers. Our adminispursued an ambitious program, realizing that trative assistants work electronically and seamnot everything will be accomplished but not lessly between chambers. losing sight of our vision and goals. The current Although all of our chambers used this technol- plan is on the court’s web site at: https:// ogy before the pandemic, these tools enabled supremecourt.nebraska.gov/sites/default/files/ us to respond seamlessly. There may be minor TechnologyCommitteeStrategicPlanFY_2019variations between the respective chambers, 20.pdf. but technology is at the heart of the appellate Two interrelated efforts deserve discussion here. courts’ operations. Each judge determines Mandatory e-filing and e-service for attorneys is
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COURT TECHNOLOGY IN NEBRASKA: IN A PANDEMIC AND BEYOND CONTINUED coming. Implementation of a completely electronic, official bill of exceptions will follow as soon as technology permits. I have a few comments about each of these projects. Many, including our Chief Justice, have been encouraging making e-filing mandatory. The time for making this a reality is rapidly approaching. To prepare the way and enable implementation of mandatory e-filing, personnel within the Supreme Court have engaged in a very extensive and time-consuming effort to modernize our court rules. This project includes consolidation of appellate and trial court efiling rules into a single article within Chapter 2; sunsetting the requirement for fax machines; requiring registration of official court reporters and other court-reporting personnel as e-filers; modernizing the appellate practice rules in numerous ways; conforming the rules to the technology now being used (which has evolved from when e-filing was first implemented); and drafting related changes in the pleading rules, general county court rules, general district court rules, general juvenile court rules, and others throughout our codified rules. When submitted to the Supreme Court for consideration, this will encompass the most extensive changes to our court rules since the initial codification.
Before the pandemic began, the team was relatively confident that the rule making process could be completed within calendar year 2020. While we remain committed to accomplishing this as soon as possible, the pandemic has introduced some uncertainty. But make no mistake, mandatory e-filing, e-service, and e-notice for attorneys is coming, and coming sooner rather than later.
The most challenging piece of the project is the conversion from a paper-based, official bill of exceptions to a totally electronic, official bill of exceptions. And the most difficult aspect of that piece is the change to totally electronic exhibits. Video recordings and other dataintensive exhibits pose special problems. We must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The verbatim record portion of a bill of exceptions can be made official and mandatory in electronic form before all of the issues with electronic exhibits are solved. While we would prefer to jump directly from all paper to all electronic, it may be necessary to accomplish these changes in steps. Part of this project has been to ascertain just what is technologically feasible, and how and when it can be accomplished. These discussions are ongoing and will involve programming changes both within the courtsâ€™ own computer systems and the sysAlthough this team has been working diligently tems maintained by Nebraska.gov to provide each week, numerous consultations have been access for lawyers, judges, and other users to necessary to be sure that not only do the rules the courtsâ€™ systems. reflect the technology actually being or planned to be used, but also that the technolo- After the Pandemic gy can actually work in the ways the rules will In the few weeks since the pandemic explodrequire. This team has carefully considered the ed, the Supreme Court has observed more and comments submitted in response to the initial more courts, including both judges and court solicitation as well as other comments received staff, using technology more extensively than from judges and the practicing bar. ever before. We predict that after the pandemic subsides, judges and court staff who have
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COURT TECHNOLOGY IN NEBRASKA: IN A PANDEMIC AND BEYOND CONTINUED gained experience with this technology, have become comfortable with its use, and have recognized the ways it makes their work easier and more efficient will want to continue to use these tools. In other words, there is no way that the court system will go backward in the use of technology. Our last pandemic was 100 years ago. Most experts believe that it will not be another century before the next pandemic. Technology and thoughtful planning are essential to enable courts to fulfill their critical functions in the midst of turmoil. The Nebraska Supreme Court is committed to assuring that this will be accomplished.
Reprinted with permission, from the Nebraska State Bar Association, The Nebraska Lawyer (July/ August 2020), Justice William B. Cassel. Get more information at www.nebar.com.
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STUDENT EDUCATION AWARD — SPOTLIGHT! This year NePA had the privilege to the Student Education Awards Rylee Hall of College of St. Mary’s and Rae Bodnar of Metropolitan Community College. Both applicants submitted essays to the NePA Student Education Award Committee by the March 1, 2020 deadline. With Committee review and approval, both students received $500 in scholarship funds. Since our Fall Seminar has gone virtual, we wanted to give a shout out to these wonderful future paralegals! RYLEE HALL—COLLEGE OF ST. MARY HIGHLIGHTS FROM RYLEE’S ESSAY:
THE POTENTIAL OF A PARALEGAL: A discovery of the growth and impact of this profession “All throughout childhood and going into my college years, if you were to ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, without hesitation, my answer would have been, ‘I want to be a lawyer.’” “...began to open my eyes to the vast opportunities and potential of becoming a paralegal. This profession shows continued expansion and a great opportunity for growth.” “As this growing field continues to define itself, I would like to use my education, career, and platform as an avenue to educate others about the potential of becoming a paralegal.”
RAE BODNAR—METRO COMMUNITY COLLEGE HIGHLIGHTS FROM RAE’S ESSAY: “I want to help others know their rights when it comes to the law.” “The spring of 2018 I took the leap and enrolled in classes full time. Juggling three classes, three children, and working full time seemed impossible most days. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but it would be worth it.” “My passion is family law, but I believe it is important to gain as much knowledge as possible to help me become the best paralegal I can be.”
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR COMMITTEE CHAIRS — ALICIA TUTINI , CP
How did you end up in the paralegal opportunities for personal developfield? ment by joining the NePA Board or committee. I moved to Omaha after graduating college, and, after working for a few What advice do you have for those years as an underwriter at Mutual of looking to enter the paralegal field? Omaha, decided that I wanted to be a paralegal. I obtained my post- Maintain a learning mindset! The parbaccalaureate certification in para- alegal field is vast, challenging, and legal studies from College of Saint fun. Mary. I was then fortunate enough to transition into a paralegal role within What is your favorite part of your job? the Law Operation at Mutual of I enjoy the research aspect, as well Omaha. as helping with drafting and reviewHow did you become involved in ing correspondence and pleadings. And, of course, the people I work NePA? with are wonderful. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by paralegals who are involved in NePA Any funny stories you could share? at my job, and learned about the organization through them. My initial There’s a running joke with one of involvement was attending events the attorneys I work with – people will hosted by NePA, then sitting on a replace the pictures in her office and panel for a paralegal forum hosted see how long it takes her to notice. by NePA. I’m now serving as the Earlier this year, I replaced a photo chair for the Ad Hoc Survey Commit- of another colleague’s dog with a photo of my cats. It took a few days tee. to notice, and since we’ve been What made you decide to join the working from home since March, the cats have had quite the tenure! Committee? I was invited to join the committee given my other involvement in NePA events. Since I am involved in Employee Resource Groups at Mutual of Omaha, I felt comfortable volunteering to chair the committee.
What has been the greatest benefit of being a member of NePA? The networking opportunities, as well as development opportunities. I’ve met many wonderful people through NePA, in all different types of practice areas. The events hosted by NePA are always interesting and informative. Plus, there are
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COVID-19 HITS HOME: LEGAL AID HELPS GRAND ISLAND WOMAN RECEIVE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS The financial impact of COVID-19 is being felt worldwide, including right here in Nebraska. In Grand Island, one of the hardest hit areas in the state, many immunocompromised workers faced the hear t wrenching reality that they may contract the virus while working to put food on their family’s table. Christina*, an employee of a Grand Island meat processing plant, found herself in that position as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to infect her co-workers. Christina had been sick and was told by a doctor to go home. A COVID-19 test came back negative, but Christina’s medical condition prevented her from returning to work for an extended period of time, which led her to struggle financially. The Federal CARES Act allows those affected by COVID-19 to apply for unemployment benefits to help offset the financial cost of the pandemic on hardworking Americans. Christina’s application for unemployment was denied, so she turned to Legal Aid of Nebraska for help. “Unemployment rates have skyrocketed due to the COVID-19, and, like Cristina, many people facing health and economic hardships due to the ongoing public health emergency have come
VOLUME MMXX, ISSUE 3
COVID-19 HITS HOME: LEGAL AID HELPS GRAND ISLAND WOMAN RECEIVE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS — CONTINUED to Legal Aid for assistance,” said Grand Island Managing Attorney Emily Santa. Christina’s stressful situation left her without a way to pay rent and other bills, and she was understandably upset. In June, her landlord told her she needed to pay all of the money she owed in rent by July 1. Meanwhile, Legal Aid staff were working tirelessly to appeal the denial of unemployment benefits. Due to those efforts, one week before the deadline to pay her landlord, Christina was finally determined eligible for an unemployment benefits payment. “An unprecedented number of people in Grand Island and statewide will be facing legal issues like evictions, garnishments, and denial of unemployment benefits; therefore, we will see an increase in the demand of our services,” said Santa. “Supporting Legal Aid in Grand Island is especially important right now because Grand Island is one of the communities hardest hit by the COVID-19.” Nebraskans who feel they have been wrongly denied unemployment benefits, or who have another COVID-19 legal issue, are encouraged to call Legal Aid’s COVID-19 Hotline at 1-844-2685627. If you’d like to support Legal Aid’s COVID-19 efforts, you can make a donation for Go Big Give at: https://www.gobiggive.org/legalaidofnebraska or at our website: https://legalaidofnebraska.thankyou4caring.org/donate *Name changed to protect identity. Legal Aid of Nebraska was established in 1963 and is the only statewide non-profit civil legal aid provider in Nebraska, providing free, high quality services to low-income Nebraskans in all 93 counties. Legal Aid’s mission is “to promote justice, dignity, hope and self-sufficiency through quality civil legal aid for those who have nowhere else to turn.” Legal Aid’s administrative offices are in Omaha, Nebraska. Follow Legal Aid of Nebraska on Facebook!
NePA Virtual FallÂ CLE Conference & Annual Meeting
September 16, 2020 Registration Deadline: September 11, 2020
Cost Member: Free Non-Member $10
*Up to 6 hours of CLE, including 1 hour of Ethics
Register at www.nebraskaparalegal.org
2020 Fall Conference Information General Information Thank you for your patience as we navigate the uncharted waters of hosting virtual conferences! It is a true testament to our abilities to adapt and overcome issues! For the Fall Conference, please see the following details: We changed the format to a full-day conference to accommodate paralegals who found it difficult to attend numerous sessions over numerous days. CLE has been pre-approved by NALA, thus, please register the sessions you attend through the NALA website. NePA will issue Certificates of Attendance for the sessions you attend. We have over 25 give-a-ways to issue to our members during the Conference. Watch our Facebook and LinkedIn page for photos of some of the give-a-ways.
NePA now has a Zoom account and has the ability to host virtual webinars at any time! Please see the following details: Our Zoom license is limited to 100 participants, so please be sure to register as soon as possible so you don't miss out on this great event! If you are unable to attend after registering, please contact Angel Younger (Angel.Younger@kutakrock.com) so we can cancel your registration and let someone else register. Please turn off your video when our speakers are talking. Once the speaker opens up the session for questions, you may turn your video back on to ask your question. You may also put your question in the chat section if you are more comfortable having our moderator ask the question for you.
Annual Meeting - Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 12:00pm
Please join us for the Annual Meeting to be held on Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 12:00 pm. It is vital to our organization to have a great turnout for the meeting. and a quorum to vote. We will also have give-a-ways at the Annual Meeting! If you are unable to attend the Annual Meeting, please return your Proxy at your earliest convenience. The Annual Meeting Notice (including the Zoom login information) and Proxy are attached separately.
Anthony DeLuca, Esq.
Aimee Melton, Esq.
Bryan Slone, Esq.
Corey O'Brien, Esq.
Tom Pokladowski, Esq.
8:15-9:15 Estate Planning and Administration 101 Anthony DeLuca, Esq., Koley Jessen P.C., L.L.O. In this session, Anthony DeLuca will provide a basic overview of estate planning in Nebraska, including a discussion of the most common elements of any successful estate plan. Anthony will also provide an overview of the post-death estate administration process and touch on basic estate-related tax considerations involving income tax, Nebraska inheritance tax, and federal estate and gift tax. 9:30-10:30 The Economic Effects of COVID-19 Bryan Slone, President, Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce & Industry COVID-19 has been the most widely impactful events in recent memory. Join us for a session with Bryan Slone from the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry as he discusses some of the impacts Nebraskans face from this pandemic. 10:45-11:45 "Excel" Through the Pandemic Kyle Kaldahl, Excel Nebraska Opportunity knocks! Kyle Kaldahl from Excel Nebraska will be sharing insight on how we all can ‘Excel’ through the pandemic. Get ready for Excel Tips & Tricks 2.0! 11:45-12:45 Lunch 12:45-1:45 Grandparents' Rights Aimee Melton, Esq., Reagan, Melton & Delaney, L.L.P. Nebraska has relatively narrow laws when it comes to grandparents' visitation rights, and requires that grandparents meet specific criteria in order for the judge to grant visitation against the wishes of the child's parents. The right is to visitation of the grandchild, not to custody. Aimee will address which circumstances allow a grandparent the right to visitation, why it is important to take action early, and what are some of the biggest hurdles grandparents face under Nebraska law. Aimee has successfully tried grandparent rights cases to the Nebraska Supreme Court, and will share illustrative details unique to those cases.
Schedule 2:00-3:00 The Trials and Tribulations of a Prosecutor in the Nebraska Attorney General's Office Corey O'Brien, Esq., Nebraska Attorney General's Office In this presentation, Corey O’Brien, who is the Criminal Bureau Chief in the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, will provide a glimpse into the everyday life of the prosecutors who travel the State of Nebraska assisting county attorneys with some of the most high profile, complex and serious criminal cases in the state. In particular, Mr. O’Brien will talk about the challenges of practicing law in 93 different courthouses, trying cases while living out of a hotel and the rewards of ensuring that justice is done no matter where a crime occurs. Additionally, Mr. O’Brien will discuss some of the more high profile cases he and his colleagues have handled and the role the Attorney General’s Office plays in the legislative process. 3:15-4:15 Ethics - Practicing the Paralegal’s Professional Responsibilities Tom Pokladowski, Esq. This session will examine the rules of professional responsibility about candor, confidentiality, loyalty, and fairness through hypothetical situations and give participants a chance to apply the critical ethical rules all paralegals need to know and practice. After this workshop, participants will be able to: Identify common situations in the delivery of legal services governed by specific rules of professional responsibility; and choose actions that comport with the rules of professional responsibility applicable to the delivery of legal services. 4:15-4:30