Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie F. Stacy will succeed Justice Kenneth C. Stephan on the Nebraska Supreme Court.
“Judge Stacy’s judicial and legal experience have served the State of Nebraska well,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said in a news release Friday. “Her expertise and judicial temperament will continue to be an asset to the people of Nebraska and now also to our State’s Supreme Court.”
Before being named a district court judge in 2011, Stacy was a partner at Baylor, Evnen, Curtiss, Grimit & Witt, LLP. She also taught trial advocacy and pretrial litigation at the University of Nebraska College of Law, from which she graduated in 1991.
On the district court, Stacy handled felony criminal, civil and domestic cases and appeals from county court and administrative agencies, as well as lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of state laws, election issues and suits against the state and state officials.
Last year, Stacy sided with the three landowners in the path of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and ruled that a 2012 law improperly bypassed the authority of the Nebraska Public Service Commission by allowing the governor to approve the pipeline route and give TransCanada the power to use eminent domain. Ultimately, the state appealed and the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the law after it fell one vote short of the five needed to address an issue of constitutionality.
The judge Stacy will replace, Stephan, was one of the three members who said the High Court lacked the jurisdiction to rule on the merits of the case.
Omaha Attorney Dave Domina, who represents landowners in two lawsuits seeking to stop TransCanada's use of eminent domain, said Stacy likely would not need to recuse herself if the current cases make their way to the Supreme Court as expected.
"Her position is the same as the other members of the court. They heard a previous case deciding similar issues. They decided that case and now they decide this one and the issues it presents," Domina said.
Domina said he doesn't see Stacy's appointment as a positive sign for the landowner case.
"I honestly don't see it as a sign of any kind. I expect to have to persuade the court of our position all over again from ground zero," he said.
"Stacy is held in high regard by active practitioners of the bar. She earned the right to be considered for appointment by merit."
Since February 2015, Stacy also has been one of two judges to preside over the Lancaster County Adult Drug Court. She has received the Exceptional Performance Citation from the Nebraska Defense Counsel Association and been peer-nominated to national honoraries including the American Board of Trial Advocates, International Association of Defense Counsel and the Litigation Counsel of America.
Stephan retired July 1. Stacy's appointment marks Ricketts’ first to the Nebraska Supreme Court.
The court's First Judicial District consists of Lancaster and Seward counties.