Seward County Court
Clerk Magistrate: Sheila Beins
Phone: (402) 643-3341
Fax: (402) 643-2950
Location: Justice Center
P.O. Box 37
Seward, NE 68434
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Functions of the County Court Office
The county court system is organized into 12 judicial districts which range in size from one to nine counties. Nebraska has 59 county court judges. County courts handle misdemeanor cases, traffic and municipal ordinance violations, preliminary hearings in felony cases, civil cases involving up to $51,000, small claims cases, some divorce cases, probate, guardianship, conservatorship and adoption proceedings, and juvenile matters. In Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy counties the separate juvenile courts hear juvenile matters. The district courts have concurrent jurisdiction in misdemeanor cases, but nearly all misdemeanor cases are tried in the county courts. Preliminary hearings are used in county court to determine whether there is enough evidence to establish probable cause in a felony case. If it appears the crime charged has been committed and there is probable cause to believe that the person charged with committing the crime is responsible, the defendant will be bound over to stand trial in district court. (as of July 1, 1998)
Clerk Magistrates - Judicial Administrators of County Courts, clerk magistrates are responsible for the administrative functions of the county court offices. Besides administrative duties, clerk magistrates have limited judicial responsibilities which may include accepting pleas in traffic and misdemeanor cases, setting bail, and performing other judicial services. These officers are appointed by county judges of the district in which they serve.
Small Claims Division of the Court
Small claims court is a division of county court and the hearings are conducted by a county judge. The court has jurisdiction in civil matters where the damages sought or the money claimed does not exceed $3,900. The person making the claim is known as the plaintiff. This person or party assumes the burden of proof, which is the responsibility to prove the issues of the case. The other person or party, against whom the claim is brought, is known as the defendant. The actual court procedure is informal. Juries are not used, attorneys are not allowed, and the parties involved must represent themselves. Once a judgment is entered, any person not satisfied with the judge's ruling may appeal to the district court within 30 days. If the judgment is for the plaintiff, it is the plaintiff's responsibility to collect the property or money. If the defendant refuses to pay the judgment, the plaintiff then has the option of using an attorney to initiate collection procedures. The usual procedure involves either selling the debtor's property or garnishing the debtor's wages and bank accounts. Instructional brochures regarding the small claims process are available at county courts and the administrator's office (as of January 1999). Please reference the Supreme Court website to see what the current limit is.
Separate Juvenile Courts
Nebraska has three separate juvenile courts located in Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy Counties. In the remaining 90 Nebraska counties, juvenile matters are heard in the county courts. Separate juvenile courts are courts of record and handle matters involving neglected, dependent, and delinquent children. The court also has jurisdiction in domestic relation cases where the care, support, or custody of minor children is an issue. The three separate juvenile courts have the same jurisdiction and employ the same procedures as the county courts acting as juvenile courts. Douglas County has four juvenile court judges, Lancaster County has three and Sarpy County has two (As of July 1, 1999).
Distributions of Court-Generated Revenues
Fees and costs collected by the Supreme Court, the Appeals Court, county courts, and the Workers' Compensation court are deposited into the state's general fund. The counties receive the fees and costs that have been collected by the district courts, except the district courts pay $5 of their $40 filing fee to the State Treasurer. An additional $25, payable to the state's general fund, is collected for the filing of a dissolution of marriage case. Nebraska's Constitution provides that fine money is to be paid to the school districts of the state. Fines for overweight vehicle offenses are split between the State Highway Cash Fund, which receives 75 percent, and the general fund of the county in which the violation occurs, which receives 25 percent. In addition, the courts collect a $1 fee in each civil and criminal case and 10% of the filing fees for the judges' retirement fund. In all criminal and traffic cases resulting in a conviction, the courts collect a $2 fee for the Nebraska Law Enforcement Improvement Fund, which supports the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center at Grand Island, and a $2 legal services fee, which is credited to the Legal Aid and Services Fund. (As of January 1999)
Administrative Office Of The Courts
The Constitution of the State of Nebraska, as amended in 1970, vests general administrative authority in the Supreme Court over all courts, and provides that this authority shall be exercised by the Chief Justice. It also states that the Chief Justice will be the executive head of the courts, and may appoint a court administrator as an administrative director.
The Administrative Office of the Courts is located in the State Capitol in Lincoln, Nebraska, close to the Supreme Court. The court administrator's responsibilities include developing coordination within the judicial branch and with other state agencies about programs affecting the courts, developing plans for improvement of the judicial system, and serving as a central source for information about the courts. The court administrator's office has helped the state's courts in case processing and records management, developing a statistical reporting system for both district and county courts, and implementing a uniform accounting system for cou
nty courts, a personnel system, and improved in-service training programs for court personnel.
District 5 Judges
Seward - Honorable C Jo Petersen
Central City - Honorable Stephen Twiss
Wahoo- Honorable Andrew R. Lange
Columbus - Honorable Denise Kracl
Aurora - Honorable Lynelle Homolka
For further information: