Foundation Facts
Law Day Job Shadowing - 2016
At the Pawnee County Courthouse, Clerk Magistrate LaRita Weber shows students how a record of even a traffic ticket can follow one for years to come.
    Each year, Bar Foundation and Nebraska Supreme Court staff travel to one of the Law Day Job Shadowing sites to thank the local coordinators and other volunteers and to observe the activities.  This year's site visit was at the Pawnee County Court with Judge Curtis Maschman and Clerk Magistrate LaRita Weber as event planners.  Together, they hosted fifth graders from three area schools.

    Retiring Pawnee City teacher Carol Schmitz was overheard thanking Judge Maschman, saying "Law Day Job Shadowing is my very favorite day of the school year!"  She went on to say how much she was going to miss accompanying her students to the courthouse for this annual activity.

    While it may not be stated in exactly the same words used by Ms. Schmitz, we know from their evaluation comments that teachers who participate with their students in this Law Day activity have high praise for the program.

    The Bar Foundation wishes to thank all of the local coordinators, hosts, and teacher sponsors who have planned and provided this important law-related education activity in their communities over the past 15 years.   Please enjoy the stories shared from Law Day Job Shadowing 2016.






Executive Director  


Holt County (O'Neill) Site
Veteran Hosts Say They Enjoy Their Job Shadowing Experience with Students

Students from Stuart Public School make the trip to O'Neill for a visit at the Holt County Courthouse.  First, they met with Judge Alan Brodbeck and Court Reporter Kami Hooey where they learned about the education needed for these respective jobs and what their daily routine might look like.  Of the experience, Hooey commented, "There were lots of great questions which makes the presentation even easier!  I always enjoy speaking with the students!"

Judge Alan Brodbeck and Court Reporter Kami Hooey answer questions about their respective jobs

Then, they trekked down the street to the law office of Jim Gotschall where he engaged the students in a conversation about his practice.  Gotschall indicated that he also enjoyed the experience and thinks Law Day Job Shadowing is a valuable educational activity for fifth graders.

Gotschall Office
Attorney Jim Gotschall welcomes Stuart students to his law office

O'Neill Drug Dog
O'Neill K-9 Unit's Officer Bill Wilson demonstrates some of drug dog Aisha's many talents

When the students arrived back the courthouse, O'Neill Police Officer Bill Wilson was present with his drug dog Aisha.  The old adage about working with animals held true, as the adult courthouse professionals may have been somewhat upstaged by this amazing dog.  Officer Wilson also allowed the students a peek inside the patrol car and let them even operate the sirens.  It is almost certain that he will be invited back to this event.

Clerk Magistrate Laura Reynoldson is the coordinator for Job Shadowing in Holt County.
Buffalo County (Kearney) Job Shadowing
Teacher Comments, "Love all you do!  Mock Trial is great!"

On May 6, students from Pleasanton Public Schools arrived at the Buffalo County Courthouse where they spent two hours with local judges, attorneys, a court reporter, and the courthouse security team. District Court Clerk Sharon Mauler coordinated the morning's activities.  

The students' first encounter was the security area where Deputies Andrea Towler and Kathy Gilmore screened the students and admitted them to the courtroom area.  

Once inside, fifth graders heard about the court system from Judge William Wright, Judge John Marsh, and Judge John Rademacher.  The judges were pleased to answer the variety of questions posed by the students.  

Judge William Wright
Judge William Wright explains the three branches of government to fifth graders
Then, in another courtroom down the hall, Court Interpreter Robert Roos posed as a judge who spoke only in Spanish.  As a part of the lesson, one of the students was accused of a crime but was unable to understand the charge or any part of the court's proceedings.  Janelle Buetler and Marissa Benavides then stepped in to interpret the Spanish language into English and vice versa.  Being able to understand what the judge was saying came much to the relief of the mock defendant!
Mock Trial in Spanish
Student defendant looks quizzically at the prosecutor speaking in Spanish

In evaluating their experience, several students stated that they thought learning different languages could be important to having a future career in the law.  They also cited the importance of becoming a good listener!

Attorneys Steve Lowe and Brandon Brinegar gave the students a tour of the entire courthouse prior to their boarding the bus for a return trip to Pleasanton.
Nebraska City in Otoe County
150 Students Learn Through Mock Trial that Crime Doesn't Pay

Judge Jeffrey Funke this year added a mock trial to the lineup of activities for Job Shadowing at the Otoe County Courthouse.  The students presented State of Nurseryland v Jack Kingsman, a case in which  Kingsman is accused of killing Mr. Humpty Dumpty.  

After learning from Deputy Joe Rehrs about investigating crimes, the students heard from County Attorney David Partsch about prosecuting the case and from Public Defender Mike Ziskey about defending the case.  

NE City Job Shadow
Judge Jeffrey Funke assists student attorney in mock trial

Students came from both Nebraska City Public Schools and from Lourdes Central Catholic School.  They learned from former District Court Judge and current member of the Nebraska Board of Parole Randall Rehmeier what the functions of that board are.  They also learned from Court Reporter Kathy Habben what some of the skills are that are needed for that job.

At the conclusion of the 90-minute session, students were surprised by a special guest. That guest was Kane, the drug dog from the Otoe County Sheriff's Office with his handler Deputy James Parson.

Student attorney makes a case for her client's innocence

At the conclusion of each session, students were treated to cookies for the road.
Neligh-Oakdale at Antelope County
Students Enact Jack and the Beanstalk Mock Trial

Judge Donna Taylor hosted 30 students from Neligh-Oakdale on May 4. 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.

Neligh Jack & Beanstalk
A Neligh-Oakdale student testifies under oath

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

Antelope Co. Sheriff
Students on tour with the Sheriff

The Antelope County Sheriff then guided a tour of the new Law Enforcement Center and Jail.
Kimball in Kimball County
Students Experience "Real" Court and a Mock Trial, Plus Interaction with State Troopers

In the presence of 32 fifth graders from Mary Lynch School, Judge Randin Roland presided over the waiving of a preliminary hearing by a defendant who was in custody.  Clerk Magistrate Michele Woods, coordinator of the Job Shadowing activity said that, even though the hearing was brief, it sparked lots of questions.  Kimball County Public Defender Stacy Bach and Kimball County Attorney assisted the judge and Woods in answering the questions and explaining their own roles in the court system.

Judge Randin Roland
Judge Randin Roland answers students' questions about court procedure
Next, the students experienced a mock trial, prepared by Bach, on the topic of bullying.  Even though there more time was needed to move through the entire trial, the group did participate in jury selection and jury questioning.  Teachers commented that both the hearing and the mock trial were great learning experiences for their class.

During the last hour of their courthouse visit, Nebraska State Patrol Troopers Bryan Woods and Luke Kelley talked about various opportunities and requirement to become a trooper.  They then demonstrated the numerous safety items they must use or carry.  Madison said she was most surprised to learn "how much padding that the State Patrol Men wear!"
Kimball - NSP
A Mary Lynch student all suited up in NSP protective gear

Continuing on the theme of safety, the troopers showed a video about the consequences of not wearing a seat belt, then swore in the students as Junior Troopers to help their families be safe in the car.

Outside, students observed the rollover vehicle that shows what happens when a vehicle rolls over at 40 mph.  At the conclusion afternoon, the students got to check out the "cool" patrol cars.  

Woods summed up the day by saying, "It was another successful Law Shadowing Day and the students learned a great deal about the different law and law enforcement occupations they can pursue in the future."

Pawnee County/Pawnee City on Arbor Day
Staff Make Visit to Pawnee County Event 

Each year, Judge Curtis Maschman and Clerk Magistrate LaRita Weber, contribute the morning of their Arbor Day holiday to host three groups of fifth grade students from area schools.  Foundation staff were privileged to be able to attend these activities on April 29.

This year, the Pawnee County host team wrote a scenario that led to the fifth graders becoming witnesses to a crime in progress.  The crime was staged by HTRS High School students and involved the passing of prescription drugs from one student to another.  The supplier of the pills was overheard saying, "Go ahead and take them...they won't hurt you.  I got them out of my mother's cabinet this morning."  Subsequently, the one who ingested the pills became ill.  Shortly afterward, Maschman informed the fifth graders that what they had just seen had been staged in preparation for them to participate in a mock trial.

Sheriff Jayme Reed and County Prosecutor Jennifer Stehlik Ladman discussed with the job shadowers evidence that might be presented in the case.  They also discussed some possible defense strategies.  Attorney Diane Merwin coordinated the scenario presented by the student actors.

At the conclusion of the trial, Maschman and Weber demonstrated some of the newer courthouse technologies and contrasted them with the historic record books that have been in existence since the 1800s.  The event was culminated by everyone enjoying Weber's famous "star" cookies that she has baked and decorated for each of the nine years she has served as a Law Day Job Shadowing coordinator.  

Judge Maschman invites student to participate in a mock trial
Judge Maschman invites student to participate in a mock trial

Some Comments from Students' Evaluations

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

"I was surprised that a judge had to go to a LOT of school."
"That the judge can't judge if his friend is in court"
"That the drug dog cost $6,000"
"On the court reporter's recorder there are no letters on the keys."
"The 'bingo ball' used to select the jury"

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

"I'm learning about the government."
"Controlling your temper"
"You need math skills and reading skills.
"Learning different languages..."
"Social Studies"
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