Nebraska Chief Justice John Hendry announed his resignation effective October 2, 2006. The resignation was a surprise. The Chief Justice reportedly said he has no other position planned. He simply decided it was time to leave his position on the Nebraska Supreme Court after thinking about the possibility for about a year.
The Chief Justice said his future plans include some family and relaxation time. He forecast that he would miss the Supreme Court, but concluded the timing for his departure is right.
Several prominent Nebraskans credited Hendry with setting a thoughtful, collegial tone on the Supreme Court. They praised him for streamlining and modernizing the state's court system and enforcing ethical standards for Nebraska judges and attorneys.
Gov. Dave Heineman, who will appoint the next chief justice from a list of candidates submitted by a nominating commission, called Hendry "a striking jurist" and an innovative administrator of the court system.
He also was a vocal leader in promoting court reforms, Heineman said. Those included efforts to address issues of actual or perceived bias in the court system, interpreters for trial courts, dealing with children in the court system, creation of drug courts and continuing education for judges.
By his retirement date, Hendry will have completed eight years on the state's highest court. He also served three years as a Lancaster County judge after 21 years as a product liability lawyer in Lincoln with the firm of Bruckner, O'Gara, Keating, Hendry, Davis & Nedved.
An Omaha native, Hendry graduated from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1974. Harvey Perlman, chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and former NU law school dean, said "The court has become much more highly respected within the judiciary and the public."
State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha called Hendry a man of integrity who had worked to bridge the gap between the judiciary and the Legislature.
Omaha attorney David Domina said the Hendry court has become known for the quality and thoughtfulness of its opinions.
Domina appeared before the court most recently as the prosecutor in the impeachment trial of NU Regent David Hergert. The court found Hergert guilty and removed him from office.
Omaha attorney William Dittrick, president of the Nebraska Bar Association and a college classmate of Hendry's, said the job of chief justice is a difficult one that requires a lot of time spent on administrative matters as well as the judicial cases. Dittrick complimented Hendry as a thoughtful, gentle soul.
July 19, 2006
David A. Domina
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