Staff & Office Location Changes in the 90s
In March of 1996, Patty King, our investigator for the previous seven years, resigned to take a position with the State of Nebraska as a parole officer in Scottsbluff. Clay Nolte, a former Lincoln police officer, took Patty's place as our investigator. Clay is a native of Humboldt, Nebraska and a University of Nebraska-Kearney graduate. After four months of employment, Clay was offered a position with the federal government as a special agent in the Environmental Protection Agency. We then hired Joe Renteria, Jr. to replace Clay. Joe's background includes working for the State of Nebraska as an investigator for the Department of Revenue.
William Bryant was hired to fill a new paralegal position created in 1996. After Bill Bryant's resignation, Jed Rojewski started working as a paralegal on the city misdemeanor docket. Jed was formerly employed by the Lancaster County Court Clerk's Office so his knowledge of the court system is a great asset to us.
May Staff Changes
During the month of May, 1996, Sean Brennan, after fifteen years as a deputy public defender, announced that he was resigning his position in order to start up a private practice. Sean's replacement was Shawn Elliott, who is a 1990 graduate of the University of Nebraska-College of Law. Shawn's legal background includes work at Legal Services of Southeast Nebraska, the Nebraska Department of Social Services and private practice involving representation for clients in child support enforcement actions.
Founding Father Retires
Later the same month, Richard Goos, a founding father of this office, announced his plans to retire effective June 28, 1996 (only to return to help out the Misdemeanor Division part time in 1999). Dick, along with the Public Defender Office itself, celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his employment and the establishment of the office. Dick has been a mentor to his fellow attorneys within the office and also to any private attorney needing assistance and guidance. Paul Cooney, a former law clerk with this office, was hired to replace Dick. Paul worked as a Tribal Public Defender for the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and as a deputy public defender with the Hall County Public Defender's Office.
Jenny Witt was hired in June of 1997 to be an attorney in the juvenile division. She worked here until September of 1999 when she left the office to become an attorney with Boys Town. She was replaced with Jennifer Villebro, a 1999 graduate of Creighton University School of Law. It was also in the summer of 1997, that Bob O'Connor was hired as a paralegal for the misdemeanor docket. His position was a newly budgeted position for the office.
The Juvenile Division (Margene Timm, Jenny Witt and Donna Garwood) moved to Trabert Hall in the beginning of October 1997. At that time we had interviewed and hired Angelia Onuoha as a second paralegal with the Juvenile Division. She began employment in December of 1997. In January of 1998, Reggie Ryder, a former law clerk with the Lancaster County Public Defender, was hired as a third attorney with the Juvenile Division.
With the County and District Courts being located in separate areas, the County Board approved the hiring of a clerk-runner for the Public Defender staff. Mayme Shannon was hired in November of 1997 and continues with her duties to this date.
Legal Secretary Retires
In December of 1997, Naomi Martins, a legal secretary with the office for approximately ten years, announced that she would be retiring and returning to her home state of Minnesota. A farewell dinner was held in her honor with all staff, spouses, and significant others attending. Michelle Scamehorn, who had experience both in County Court and District Court, started working with us in December of 1997.
On January 13, 1998, after much planning and coordinating, the Lancaster County Public Defender staff moved to its fifth location, 555 S 10th Street, Suite 202. The move went fairly smooth since we didn't have to move any furniture. It took a few weeks to get settled and we were pleased to have enough space with some room for expansion. Our Juvenile Division, which had moved to Trabert Hall in October of 1997 rejoined us in the summer of 1998.
In February 1998, Julie Hansen, also a former law clerk, was hired as a part-time temporary attorney to assist in the ever growing misdemeanor docket. Julie eventually became a full time attorney with the office. Tim Sopinski took over the part time misdemeanor position and he also became a full time employee in October of 1999. Also joining the office was Tim Eppler, a 1997 graduate of UNL Law School, who became a member of the Felony Division in November 1999. Also joining the office in 1999 were 2 paralegals, Angela Franssen in the Misdemeanor Division and Kristi Gottberg in the Felony Division.