Gov. Heineman Announces Five Judicial Appointments

The following is a press release from Gov. Heineman:

(Lincoln, Neb.) Gov. Dave Heineman today announced his appointment of five individuals to fill judicial vacancies for two district court and two county court seats in the Omaha area. He also named a judge to serve on the Nebraska Court of Appeals.

The Governor named Michael Pirtle of Omaha, to fill the vacancy on the Nebraska Court of Appeals. He takes over for Judge Theodore Carlson, who died in April.

Pirtle, 58, has been a director with the Gross and Welch Law Firm since 2006. He was a senior staff attorney for American Family Insurance from 2000 to 2006. Since 2010, he has served as vice chair of the Nebraska Supreme Court Dispute Resolutions Advisory Council.

Pirtle was named a fellow of the Nebraska State Bar Foundation and received the Midland University Master Teacher Award in 1993. He graduated from Midland University in 1975 and the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1978.

The governor appointed Marcela Keim and Sheryl Lohaus, both of Omaha, to fill vacancies on the County Court of the Fourth Judicial District, created by the retirements of Judge Thomas McQuade and Judge Stephen Swartz.

Keim, 37, has been an assistant city prosecutor in the Omaha City Prosecutor's Office since 2004. From 1999 to 2004, she was an assistant public defender in the Douglas County Public Defender's Office.

She serves on the Project Harmony Service League Board and is involved in adult and juvenile mental health committees. She graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. in 1996 and received her law degree in 1999 from Creighton University.

Lohaus, 49, is a director with Gross and Welch, where she has worked since 2006 when she returned after a year with Slusky Law and Mediation. She had previously been with the firm from 2002 to 2004. She worked with Batt and Associates from 1993 to 2002.

Lohaus is active in the Nebraska Volunteer Lawyer Project and has served as a guardian ad litem. She has served as a school board member for St. James Seton and is currently a board member for Madonna School in Omaha.

She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1985. She received her law degree from Creighton University in 1990. Lohaus completed mediation training programs in 2005 and 2006.

In filling two vacancies to the District Court in the Fourth Judicial District, the Governor named Timothy Burns and Duane Dougherty, both of Omaha, to replace retiring judges, Judge Gerald Moran and Judge Patricia Lamberty.

Burns, 52, has spent more than 26 years working in the Douglas County Public Defender's Office, and since 1996, has been a senior assistant public defender. He supervises 40 assistant public defenders and handles cases appealed to the Nebraska Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.

He received his bachelor's degree in 1981 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated from the Creighton University School of Law in 1984. He clerked for Nebraska Supreme Court Justice Thomas Shanahan from 1984 to 1985.

Dougherty, 49, has been with the Koukol, Johnson and Dougherty firm since 2008. For two years, he was the sole proprietor of his firm starting in September 2006. He previously worked with Stave, Coffey, Swenson, Schatz and Dougherty from 1992 to 2006.

Dougherty is a regular volunteer for the Nebraska Bar Association Self Help Desk. He graduated from Creighton University in 1984 and received his law degree from the Creighton School of Law in 1987.