Summary Review of Court Systems -
Structure of Civil Courts
The court system in Nebraska is divided into a Supreme Court, a Court of Appeals, 93 district courts, 93 county courts (one for each county in the state), and small claims courts which are divisions of each county court. The Nebraska judicial system has separate juvenile courts in Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy County, and a separate Workers’ Compensation Court statewide.
Basis of Jurisdiction
The district courts are the court of general jurisdiction. That is, the district courts can hear felony criminal cases, equity cases, and civil cases of any dollar amount. With some exceptions, the district courts also decide appeals from most county court matters and appeals from various administrative agencies.
The county courts in Nebraska are trial courts with specified limited jurisdiction. County courts have concurrent original jurisdiction with the district courts in all civil actions of any type where the amount in controversy is $57,000.00 or less.
Small claims courts are limited to civil actions involving disputes over amounts of money owed, damage to property, or seeking the return of personal property. Lawyers may not participate in small claims court.
Nebraska has not established specialized commercial courts.
Mediation has become common practice in Nebraska and continues to increase in popularity. In 1991, the Nebraska Legislature passed the Nebraska Dispute Resolution Act to promote and develop the practice and use of mediation and alternative dispute resolution. In 2003, Nebraska adopted the Uniform Mediation Act. By statute, a court has the discretion to refer a civil case to mediation.
When judges order mediation, parties and/or attorneys generally engage a private mediator through an agreement among the parties. There are also resources available from the Office of Dispute Resolution (“ODR”), which partners with six non-profit ODR-Approved Mediation Centers in Nebraska.
Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 25-2901 – 25-2921
Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 25-2930 – 25-2942
Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-2943
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