LINCOLN — After 22 years on the Nebraska Supreme Court, Judge William Connolly has announced that he is retiring on Aug. 1.
Connolly, 78, was named to the state’s highest court in 1994 by then-Gov. Ben Nelson.
He had served two years on the State Court of Appeals after working as a private attorney in Hastings and as the Adams County attorney.
“It has been a great honor to serve the citizens of this state as both a county attorney and a judge,” Connolly said in a press release Monday.
His departure means that Gov. Pete Ricketts will be filling a third vacancy on the seven-member court since taking office in January 2015. That is the most Supreme Court appointments by a governor since Nelson, who appointed eight judges during his eight years in office.
Connolly graduated from Creighton Prep in Omaha before earning his undergraduate and law degrees from Creighton University.
In 1964 he moved to Hastings to take a job as a deputy county attorney. He served as county attorney from 1967 to 1973 before working in private practice.
Chief Justice Mike Heavican said Connolly has been a “seminal figure in shaping the Court’s recent jurisprudence.”
“His keen legal mind and exceptional writing skills will be greatly missed.”
Michael Fenner, a Creighton law professor, said Connolly has a “unique talent” for sorting through complicated legal matters, dealing with them thoroughly and then writing opinions that were easy to understand.
“The only time I’ve appeared before the court, he certainly asked good questions that got right to the heart of the matter,” Fenner said. “I’m going to miss him.”
The Judicial Nominating Commission has not yet announced the application deadline for the vacancy.
Connolly, a registered independent, is the third judge to retire during Ricketts’ term as governor. Judge Ken Stephan retired in July after 18 years on the court. Judge Michael McCormack retired on Jan. 1, also after serving 18 years.
Selected to fill those vacancies were Judges Stephanie Stacy and Max Kelch.
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