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Michael Heavican

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Michael Heavican
Current Court Information:
Nebraska Supreme Court
Title:   Chief Justice
Salary:  $
Appointed by:   Gov. Dave Heineman
Active:   2006-2016
Chief:   2006-2016
Past post:   U.S. District Attorney, Nebraska
Past term:   2001-2006
Past post 2:   Assistant United States Attorney, District of Nebraska
Past term 2:   1991-2001
Personal History
Undergraduate:   University of Nebraska, 1969
Law School:   University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law, 1974

Mike Heavican is the chief justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court. He was appointed to the court by Gov. Dave Heineman and assumed office as the court's presiding justice on October 2, 2006. He was retained in 2010 and his current term ends in 2016. His position as chief justice gives him a seat on the Nebraska Judicial Qualifications Commission.


Heavican received his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska in 1969 and his J.D. from University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law in 1974.[1]


  • 2006-2016: Chief Justice, Nebraska Supreme Court
  • 2001-2006: United States Attorney, District of Nebraska
  • 1991-2001: Assistant United States Attorney, District of Nebraska
  • 1981-1991: Lancaster County Attorney
  • 1981: Chief Deputy Lancaster County Attorney
  • 1975-1980: Deputy Lancaster County Attorney[2]

Appointment to the Supreme Court

U.S. Attorney Mike Heavican was named chief justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court by Gov. Dave Heineman on September 20, 2006. Heavican was the chief federal prosecutor in Nebraska, and according to Heineman, "brings 'a conservative, common-sense approach' to the court as a judge who will 'not make law from the bench.'"[3] Heineman picked Heavican from three nominees presented to him by a judicial nominating commission. The others were Supreme Court Judge John Gerrard and District Judge John Icenogle of Kearney. In other reaction to Heavican’s appointment, Omaha attorney Dave Domina said Heavican has had “a tremendous amount of experience with the decision-making process as a prosecutor (and) proven himself capable of administration in two important and responsible law enforcement positions.” Heineman said he placed “a high priority on the management of courts” in choosing Heavican. As U.S. attorney, Heavican has managed 58 people and a $5 million budget, the governor said.[3]



Heavican was retained with 69.56% of the vote in 2010.[4]

See also: Nebraska judicial elections, 2010

2012 judicial performance evaluation

Every two years, the Nebraska State Bar Association compiles responses from lawyers to evaluate judges in the state. Subjects are rated in seven categories, then a determination is made for whether the judge should be retained. The seven categories considered are: legal analysis; impartiality; attentiveness; opinions; judicial temperament and demeanor; appropriate communication; and timeliness.

87.1 percent of respondents stated that Justice Heavican should be retained in office. To read the full evaluation, see: Nebraska State Bar Association, 2012 Evaluation Results.

Political ideology

See also: Political ideology of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan ideology of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 are more liberal. Heavican received a Campaign finance score (CFscore) of 1.05, indicating a conservative ideological leaning. This is more conservative than the average CF score of -0.18 that justices received in Nebraska. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice, but an academic gauge of various factors.[5]

See also

External links


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