By Jan Rahn
Poll results evaluating the state’s judges were recently released by the Nebraska State Bar Association. Judges who serve on the bench in the Perkins County Courtroom were among those evaluated by lawyers.
Judges serving Perkins County in District 11 are Edward D. Steenburg in county court; Donald E. Rowlands and Richard A. Birch sit on the bench in district court.
Lawyers responding to the poll recommended that 135 of the 137 judges evaluated be retained on the bench—Perkins County’s judges fell into that category.
Steenburg received a 96.2 percent retention recommendation, Rowlands a 95.7 percent retention recommendation and Birch 93.8 percent by lawyers responding to the survey.
District 11 encompasses the counties of Arthur, Chase, Dawson, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas Gosper, Hayes, Hitchcock, Hooker, Keith, Lincoln, Logan, McPherson, Perkins, Red Willow and Thomas.
Electronic surveys were sent to 5,047 active members of the Nebraska State Bar Association with 959 members completing the evaluation. Sixty-three judges were given a 90 percent or higher retention approval, 56 judges received an 80-89 percent retention approval, and 10 were approved 70-79 percent.
“These numbers are remarkable, said G. Michael Fenner, president of the Nebraska State Bar Association. “In these times of deep political division, they confirm that our courts in Nebraska do not operate as a political branch of government, but just do what courts are supposed to do—follow the law.”
The purpose of the evaluation is to provide judges with an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses and to help the public better understand the state’s merit system for the selection and retention of judges.
Attorneys were instructed to evaluate only judges with whom they had recent, first-hand professional experience.