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Lancaster County Public Defender seeks reelection to third term

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Joe Nigro

Lancaster County Public Defender Joe Nigro.

Joe Nigro, who has served two four-year terms as Lancaster County Public Defender, has filed for reelection to continue leading the office where he’s worked for 38 years.

Nigro, a Democrat, said he’s saved taxpayer money by adding social workers to better serve clients with mental health and substance abuse issues, advocated for problem-solving courts that reduce recidivism and increase rehabilitation, and worked with the Nebraska Legislature on criminal justice reform.

“By protecting the rights of those who cannot afford to hire an attorney, we are protecting all of us,” Nigro said. “My priorities are working to end mass incarceration, fighting to end racism in the criminal justice system, and reducing the number of people with mental health issues in the system.”

Nigro is facing a primary challenge from Kristi Egger, who retired earlier this month after 32 years as an attorney in the office.

Nigro has served on the Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorneys Association board and is a member of the House of Delegates for the Nebraska Bar Association. Nigro also serves on the Supreme Court Problem Solving Court Committee, the Supreme Court Committee on Practice and Procedure, the Justice Behavioral Health Committee, and the Lancaster County Justice Council. Nigro chaired the Supreme Court Mental Health Court Committee.

In a news release announcing his candidacy, Nigro, who is active in Democratic politics, included endorsements by a long list of local and state Democrats and party leaders such as the mayor, former U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, former Lincoln mayors, former Lancaster County Public Defender Dennis Keefe, current state senators, City Council members, county board members and others.

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Nigro has served on a wide array of community, city, school and church organizations.

He earned a law degree and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

He and his wife, Shari, have three adult children and three grandchildren. They had one grandchild, who has died.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or

On Twitter @LJSreist


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Local government reporter

Margaret Reist is a recovering education reporter now writing about local and county government and the people who live in the city where she was born and raised.

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