Foundation Facts
Law Day Job Shadowing - 2015
Judge Michael Offner presiding at Law Day Job Shadowing, 2013, in
Nuckolls County

Law Day Job Shadowing 2015 was dedicated to the memory of Judge Michael Offner who passed away in December 2014.  

Judge Michael Offner served nine counties in the 10th Nebraska County Court District.  In 2013, he began Law Day Job Shadowing programs in Nuckolls and Webster counties.  Working with Judge Offner were Clerk Magistrate Diane Wehrman and Clerk Magistrate Jolene Duffy.  Together, they prepared the B.B. Wolf v. Curly Pig mock trial for the students, and Judge Offner created the Curly Pig Cookbook, a special exhibit for the trial. 

Building on the success and popularity of the program, Judge Offner coordinated Law Day Job Shadowing again in 2014.  Then, his life was cut short in December 2014.  In gratitude for Judge Offner, the Foundation dedicated the 2015 Law Day Job Shadowing statewide activities to his memory.  The following stories are from both Nuckolls and Webster Counties where Judge Michael Burns worked with Ms. Duffy and Ms. Wehrman to continue the Law Day tradition that Judge Offner began.  

This year, more than 500 students from 20 schools participated in the Law Day Job Shadowing program.  I invite you to enjoy all of the stories and photos.






Executive Director  


Red Cloud in Webster County/Nelson in Nuckolls County
Offner Family Attends Events in Memory of Judge Offner

Stan and Phyllis Offner (parents) and Adam Offner (son) acknowledge the welcome given by Judge Michael Burns at the Webster County Courthouse in Red Cloud

On May 4, Judge Michael Burns hosted members of the Offner family and local fifth graders in Law Day Job Shadowing activities in both Red Cloud and Nelson.  Representatives of the Bar Foundation and Nebraska Supreme Court also attended the events in Red Cloud, and Bar Foundation Fellow Brad Gianakos represented the Foundation in paying respects to Judge Offner in Nelson.

Students from Red Cloud, Superior, and Lawrence/Nelson elementary schools received assistance from local prosecutors and public defenders as they presented a mock trial in which Curly Pig was accused of trying to cook the Big Bad Wolf in a pot of boiling water.  The fifth graders played the roles of attorneys, witnesses, and jurors, and were somewhat eager to convict the pig of the crime as charged. Red Cloud attorneys assisting with the mock trial were Don Theobald and Sara Bockstadter.  In Nelson, attorneys Ben Murray and John Hodge gave trial pointers to the student attorneys and witnesses.

Defense witness "Jack Smith" testifies in the case of B,.B. Wolf v. Curly Pig

Following the trial, students divided into two groups, one of which learned more about court procedure while the other toured law enforcement quarters and cars, led by the County Sheriff.  


In Red Cloud, an additional special tribute was paid to Judge Offner with the naming of the courthouse law library for Judge Offner.  The tribute had been closely guarded up until the naming was revealed by Judge Burns in the presence of the Offner family.  The family was deeply touched by this honor.


Phyllis, Stan, Drew, Adam, and Jan Offner thank Judge Burns at the naming of the Webster County Law Library for Judge Michael Offner
Holt County (O'Neill) Site
Students Enact Curly Pig Mock Trial as Tribute to Judge Offner
Judge Alan Brodbeck shares information about technology skills needed in the courtroom

This year, almost 100 students from four area schools came to the Holt County Court House for Job Shadowing.  It was the first year Clerk Magistrate Laura Reynoldson, local coordinator, and Judge Alan Brodbeck led the group in a mock trial.  

Students from West Holt, St. Joseph's Catholic in Atkinson, O'Neill St. Mary's, and O'Neill Public also heard from local attorneys Forrest Peetz and Ashley Boettcher, County Attorney Brent Kelly and court reporter Kami Hooey.  The fifth graders learned what knowledge, skills, and attitudes are needed to become a lawyer judge, or court reporter.  

The Holt County Independent featured a front-page article with color photos covering the 2015 Law Day Job Shadowing event.

Court reporter Kami Hooey demonstrates the machine she uses daily in her job at the Holt County Courthouse

Buffalo County (Kearney) Job Shadowing
Activities Leave Teachers Asking for More Time at Courthouse

Translator informs fellow student that she is being charged with the theft of an iPad
Even though District Court Clerk and local coordinator Sharon Mauler planned two full hours of activities, teacher sponsors said they would have liked even more time for their students to experience Law Day Job Shadowing!

Students from Kearney's Meadlowlark and Pleasanton elementary schools first heard about the court systems from Judge William Wright. 

Then, they experienced a mock trial conducted entirely in Spanish.  Court Interpreter Robert Roos acted as the judge in a case in which a student was accused of stealing an iPad but was not able to understand the charge.

It was not until the charge was presented in English by a translator did the accused know what was happening.  This trial demonstration provided a poignant lesson on the need for interpreters in Nebraska courtrooms.
Judge William Wright describes the court system  

Rounding out the morning's schedule, Judge John Rademacher and local attorneys Shawn Eatherton, Steve Lowe, Nichole Mailahn, John Marsh, and Nathan Bruner took groups of students on a tour of the courthouse.  

Mauler also arranged for the following courthouse personnel to interact with the students:  Dolly Morett, Spanish speaking attorney for mock trial; and Andrea Towler and Dan Scamehorn, Deputy Sheriffs and Courthouse Security.  

Ana Gamboa, Juanita Alonso, and Mayra Ortiz, students from the University of Nebraska - Kearney, also assisted with the Buffalo County Law Day celebration.
Nebraska City in Otoe County
Morning and Afternoon Sessions Accommodate 125 Students

Students from Nebraska City Public Schools smile for the camera

Lourdes Central Catholic fifth graders celebrate Law Day 

Judge Jeffrey Funke hosted students from Lourdes Central Catholic and Hayward Elementary School on Law Day , May 1.  Each group spent 90 minutes at the Otoe County Courthouse where they experienced the procedure for presenting an accident case.

Deputy Joe Rehrs, Otoe County Sheriff's Department, walked the students through the accident investigation, then District Court Clerk Janis Riege and County Court Clerk Cindy Cich explained the mechanics of the court process.  Thereafter, County Attorney David Partsch and Public Defender Mike Ziskey demonstrated an abbreviated version of the case at trial.  

Former District Court Judge and current member of the Nebraska Board of Parole Randall Rehmeier reviewed the role of the Board.  Court Reporter Kathy Habben shared the technology she uses to record the trial proceedings.

Next came the big surprise of the day when the K-9 officer and his handler appeared. Students said they were surprised to learn that commands to the dog were given in German.
At the conclusion of each session, students were treated to refreshments.
Neligh-Oakdale at Antelope County
Students Enact Jack and the Beanstalk Mock Trial

Students receive assistance from a practicing attorney as they present the case of State v. Bean
Judge Donna Taylor hosted 32 students from Neligh-Oakdale on May 6. The first order of the day was to observe arraignments and some additional court business. 

During introductions, attorney Jeff Doerr burst in and stole the chicken referred to in the Jack and the Beanstalk story.  Thus began the case of State v. Bean began when statements of witnesses were taken.  County Attorney Joe Abler and Public Defender Marty Klein assisted the students in conducting the mock trial.

Following the trial, Judge Taylor gave gavel pencils to the students and reminded them to work hard and stay in school.

The Antelope County Sheriff then guided a tour of the new Law Enforcement Center and Jail.
Three Schools at Pawnee County/Pawnee City
Hosts Give Their Arbor Day Holiday to Teach Students About the Law

Judge Maschman explains courtroom procedure at the Pawnee County Courthouse
For eight years, Judge Curtis Maschman and County Clerk Magistrate LaRita Weber have graciously opened the doors of the Pawnee County Courtroom on Arbor Day.  On that holiday, they host students from Humboldt-Table Rock-Steinauer, Pawnee City, and Lewiston Consolidated in Law Day Job Shadowing.

This year, the fifth graders took part in a mock trial with a twist, as the defendant was a twin...and a tale of mistaken identify ensued.  Weber, County Attorney Jennifer Stehlik Ladman, Sheriff Jayme Reed, and attorney Diane Merwin assisted the students in the trial over which Judge Maschman presided.  High school students played the parts of the suspects in a case involving a missing iPad.

Following the trial, Judge Maschman and Weber shared some of the antiquities of the county courthouse by opening probate records from the 1890s.  The activity was concluded with all of the students being treated to Weber's famous iced "star" cookies...always a big hit with the fifth graders! 

LaRita Weber explains her role as Clerk Magistrate in Pawnee County

Photos provided courtesy of the Pawnee County Republican.
Kimball in Kimball County
Messages from Judges, Law Enforcement, a Teen, and a Dog Make Big Impression 

Sergeant Freirichs, Cheyenne County, and Hayden Graham who told his story about texting and being involved in an accident
At the Kimball County Courthouse, students from Mary Lynch Elementary School had an opportunity to observe three actual court cases.  Presiding Judge Randin Roland, County Attorney David Wilson,  and Public Defender Stacy Pettit visited with the fifth graders following the hearings.

Hayden Graham, a young man from neighboring Cheyenne County, made a presentation about his real-life experience with texting and driving.  Developing the presentation was part of his sentence for causing an accident last year.
Students are amazed at a rollover accident demonstration and the importance of wearing seat belts

Coordinator and Clerk Magistrate Michele Woods arranged for Sergeant Freirichs of the Cheyenne County Sheriff's Office to introduce his K-9 Colonel and explain some of the process of the way the dog is trained.  

Trooper Bryan Woods, Nebraska State Patrol, demonstrated the rollover simulator that showed how easily a car's occupant can be thrown out of the vehicle if not wearing a seat belt.

Ms. Woods commented, "Every participant presented his or her occupation so very well and I know the kids came away with a lot to think about!"
Judge Ross Stoffer Inaugurates Job Shadowing in Wayne/Wayne County
Hosts Middle School Students...and a High School Class

Wayne County Courthouse

On April 20, 38 sixth graders from the Wisner-Pilger Middle School came to visit the Wayne County Court. The group first watched arraignments, including a JABBER arraignment of a defendant held in the State of South Dakota penitentiary. (JABBER is a system that allows for video proceedings of cases.)


Judge Stoffer answered questions from the group about the roles of people involved in the court and then told them they were about to witness a crime and to pay close attention. 


A portion of the Discovery Channel program "Head Games" was then played, showing an item being stolen from a person's bag in a park. The students followed up by filling out police reports and watching another portion of the video showing a lineup. There were five persons in the lineup, only one of whom committed the crime.  Even so, each of the five people in the lineup received some student votes as being the thief.  


Judge Stoffer then replayed the crime video, and the group discussed eye witness identification.  They considered ways police look for common elements in eyewitnesses and their statements to help them decide if the witnesses are likely to be accurate.


Wayne County Court Magistrate KimBerly Hansen assisted in scheduling the event, setting up the equipment and providing the materials.


On May 4, 65 Wayne High School seniors visited the courthouse.  The group observed in-person arraignments (not via JABBER this time) and discussed the legal process and becoming a lawyer and/or judge with Judge Stoffer.


They then watched a "Brain Games" segment about divided attention.  In the video, a person who is very good at multitasking is put to a scientific test.  The test shows that talking on a cell phone (even with a hands-free device) when trying to concentrate on both driving and complex problems leads to driving similar to being under the influence of alcohol and testing .08.  Trying to text and drive compares to a .15 alcohol test.  They then discussed the dangers this exposes the driver and the public to and the laws that have been passed trying to protect drivers and the public.


The Bar Foundation is pleased to welcome Judge Stoffer as a Job Shadowing coordinator in Wayne.

Some Comments from Students' Evaluations

Which parts of the job were of interest to you?

"I liked the Sheriff because you get to look at different problems."
"Being the Judge because you get to use malet."
"I was interested in the attorney job and how they help people who are in court."
"The Lawyer...when I was here today I met two lawyers and it was so cool. I had so much fun!"
"Court Reporter - the machine that they type on."

What surprised you most about what you learned, heard, or observed?

"I was surprised when I was picked to be in the jury."
"When the boys (actors in the mock trial) got in a tangle the sheriff shad to call them out of the courtroom."
"The books that had all of the laws."
"When we were being talked to in Spanish by the judge and it didn't make any sense."
"That looking down for five seconds (when driving a car) can kill someone very easily."
"The K-9 dog and how he finds drugs."

What knowledge and skills are you learning in school that could be used in this type of job?

"Learning to follow the rules, learning to use the computer."
"In Social Studies we had a debate about the Federalists and the Antifederalists back when the United States just won independence."
"Speaking in front of the class."
"We pledge to be respectful, responsible, and safe."
Teacher Testimonials
  • "This program is very valuable...Very well organized & worthwhile!" 
  • "You did an awesome job as always!  Thank you so much for having us." 
  • "This is such a great experience for my students.  It shows real life application of our judicial system.  It also inspires my students to be open to careers in the fields that were shown.  We loved today!!" 
  • "It was a fun, informative day.  The kids enjoyed it!"
  • "I asked the class.  They loved everything!"
Law Day Job Shadowing Resources
Find These on the Bar Foundation Website

Members of the PEOPLE Committee's LRE Subcommittee have created video job shadowing orientations for both students and teachers.  These short videos as well as a vocabulary and information on courthouse technology, courtroom procedures, and jobs may be easily found online. 

Job Shadowing coordinators and classroom teachers are encouraged to review this information in advance for Law Day in order to make the interchange more meaningful on the day of the courthouse visit.

If you have questions about the Foundation's programs of Law-Related Education, please contact me at

1-800-773-5396 or 402-475-1042. 

Nebraska State Bar Foundation
635 S. 14th Street, Suite 120
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
Nebraska State Bar Foundation