When I started this journey last fall, I assumed the upcoming year would be “business as usual” for NATA. My assumption was predicated upon the foundation laid by previous leadership, together with the faithful and capable hands of our executive director, Stella Huggins. As my tenure as your president ends, needless to say, the past year hasn’t exactly been “business as usual.” That said, it is precisely because of its foundation that NATA was able to stay the course and even accomplish a few things along the way.
Every fall, NATA’s legislative committee meets to discuss the upcoming year’s legislative session. The meeting involves discussion of significant legislation held over from the previous session, new legislation seen to advance the promotion of justice and safety, and any anticipated legislation seen as adverse to the interests of our clients. This year was no exception. On August 6, 2020, LB 912 was signed by Governor Ricketts. LB 912 accomplishes two (2) important objectives: 1. The creation of the “County Court Special Proceedings Act”; and 2. An amendment to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 24-734, allowing for remote (telephonic, videoconferencing, or similar methods) testimony, for good cause shown. We believe these objectives will enhance judicial efficiency and lower costs for all civil litigants. Of course, these accomplishments would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of multiple teams: 1. The legislative committee, led by NATA’s incoming president, Andy Sibbernsen; 2. NATA’s longtime partnership with governmental relations group, O’Hara Lindsay; 3. NATA’s PAC, led by Matt Lathrop; 4. Members of the unicameral who are open to discussing and advancing the objectives; and 5. All NATA members who devote time and/or financial resources to the cause. I want to thank everyone involved for their hard work in making this another successful session. I would also like to invite everyone to consider attending the meeting this fall (date to be determined). If you are unable to make the meeting, please consider sending us any proposals you wish to discuss.
After cancelling the May seminar due to COVID, NATA continued its efforts to provide high quality seminars. On September 25, 2020, NATA hosted a “Trial Stories” seminar, offered both live and via webcast. Not only did we learn about successful strategies before the pandemic, but we also heard from those who have tried cases to a jury during the pandemic. NATA will host, both live and remotely, another seminar on December 4, 2020. Please watch for details in late October. Finally, I look forward to future seminars, likely in 2021, covering the opportunities provided by LB 912.
While we are no doubt living in a different world, NATA’s future remains bright. Jury trials have resumed. The incoming executive committee is eager to lead. Talented young lawyers are not only joining the Board but contributing early and often. Despite the pandemic, our members continue to contribute their time, financial and intellectual resources, and share their experiences. I want to personally thank each and every one of you for your contributions. With the continued dedication of our members, NATA will forge ahead in its effort to make Nebraska a better, safer place to live.
It has been an honor and a privilege serving this organization. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity.