Nebraska State Constitution Article V-1

Article V-1


Power vested in courts; Chief Justice; powers.

The judicial power of the state shall be vested in a Supreme Court, an appellate court, district courts, county courts, in and for each county, with one or more judges for each county or with one judge for two or more counties, as the Legislature shall provide, and such other courts inferior to the Supreme Court as may be created by law. In accordance with rules established by the Supreme Court and not in conflict with other provisions of this Constitution and laws governing such matters, general administrative authority over all courts in this state shall be vested in the Supreme Court and shall be exercised by the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice shall be the executive head of the courts and may appoint an administrative director thereof.


  • Neb. Const. art. VI, sec. 1 (1875);
  • Amended 1920, Constitutional Convention, 1919-1920, No. 15;
  • Transferred by Constitutional Convention, 1919-1920, art. V, sec. 1;
  • Amended 1970, Laws 1969, c. 419, sec. 1, p. 1432;
  • Amended 1990, Laws 1990, LR 8, sec. 1.


1. Establishment of courts

2. Functions of judicial department

3. Judicial powers of administrative boards

4. Miscellaneous

1. Establishment of courts

Act establishing Court of Industrial Relations does not violate any constitutional provision and the standards for its guidance are adequate. Orleans Education Assn. v. School Dist. of Orleans, 193 Neb. 675, 229 N.W.2d 172 (1975).

The Legislature has power to create courts inferior to the Supreme Court. Anderson v. Tiemann, 182 Neb. 393, 155 N.W.2d 322 (1967).

Legislature has power to abolish justice of the peace courts only as an incident to the exercise of the power to substitute other courts for the justice of the peace courts. State ex rel Woolsey v. Morgan, 138 Neb. 635, 294 N.W. 436 (1940).

Justice courts are courts created by the Constitution, and only persons licensed to practice law are entitled to practice in such courts. State ex rel. Hunter v. Kirk, 133 Neb. 625, 276 N.W. 380 (1937).

Workmen's Compensation Court was created pursuant to this section. City of Lincoln v. Nebraska Workmen's Compensation Court, 133 Neb. 225, 274 N.W. 576 (1937).

Legislature may substitute municipal court for justice of peace court within such districts. State ex rel. Wright v. Brown, 131 Neb. 239, 267 N.W. 466 (1936).

Legislature may provide for justice of the peace districts, etc., and may substitute other courts for justice courts within such districts. State ex rel. Bunce v. Kubat, 110 Neb. 362, 193 N.W. 754 (1923).

County judge is constitutional officer, and can be removed only by impeachment. Conroy v. Hallowell, 94 Neb. 794, 144 N.W. 895 (1913).

Police magistrate is a constitutional office, and the term thereof is fixed by Constitution. State ex rel. McDermott v. Reilly, 94 Neb. 232, 142 N.W. 923 (1913), rehearing denied 94 Neb. 238, 143 N.W. 200 (1913).

Police judge is judicial constitutional officer and must be elected as such. State ex rel. Benson v. Mayor & Council of City of Hastings, 91 Neb. 304, 135 N.W. 1028 (1912); State ex rel. Gordon v. Moores, 61 Neb. 9, 84 N.W. 399 (1900); State ex rel. Wheeler v. Stuht, 52 Neb. 209, 71 N.W. 941 (1897).

County courts are by this section made courts of record. Noakes v. Switzer, 12 Neb. 156, 10 N.W. 536 (1881).

Justice of the peace is a state office and the person filling that office is an officer of the state included in the term public officers under agreement with the Federal Security Administrator requiring social security contributions from state based on compensation paid to officers of the state. State v. Finch, 339 F.Supp. 528 (D. Neb. 1972).

County courts are by this section made a part of the judicial power of the state, being courts of record, with certain constitutional original jurisdiction as well as that given them by statute. City of Hattiesburg v. First National Bank of Hattiesburg, 8 F.Supp. 157 (S. D. Miss. 1934).

2. Functions of judicial department

By creating and regulating Judicial Branch Education, the Nebraska Supreme Court is exercising a power constitutionally committed to it. State ex rel. Veskrna v. Steel, 296 Neb. 581, 894 N.W.2d 788 (2017).

The Nebraska Supreme Court is vested with the sole power to admit persons to the practice of law in this state and to fix qualifications for admission to the Nebraska bar. In re Application of Brown, 270 Neb. 891, 708 N.W.2d 251 (2006).

A court cannot, in enforcing directives of a superior court, deprive a party of legal or substantive rights by acting in an arbitrary or unreasonable manner which is inconsistent with or contravenes principles of general law or constitutional or statutory provisions. In re Estate of Reed, 267 Neb. 121, 672 N.W.2d 416 (2003).

The Supreme Court has administrative authority over all inferior courts. It is essential for the Supreme Court, as a part of its inherent authority, to provide inferior courts with case progression standards in order to ensure that cases are properly disposed of in a timely and efficient manner. In re Estate of Reed, 267 Neb. 121, 672 N.W.2d 416 (2003).

The Nebraska Supreme Court, and only that court, is invested with the power to admit persons to the practice of law and to fix qualifications for admission to the bar. Thus, it has the responsibility to adopt and implement systems designed to protect the public and safeguard the judicial system by assuring that those admitted to the bar are of such character and fitness as to be worthy of the trust and confidence such admission implies. In re Application of Majorek, 244 Neb. 595, 508 N.W.2d 275 (1993).

County courts can only acquire jurisdiction through legislative enactment. Miller v. Janecek, 210 Neb. 316, 314 N.W.2d 250 (1982).

This provision clearly grants county courts jurisdiction over actions involving speeding violations. State v. Jones, 209 Neb. 296, 307 N.W.2d 126 (1981).

Establishment of judicial department conferred authority necessary to exercise its powers as coordinate department of government. State ex rel. Ralston v. Turner, 141 Neb. 556, 4 N.W.2d 302 (1942).

Supreme Court is vested with sole power to admit persons to practice of law and fix their qualifications. State ex rel. Wright v. Hinckle, 137 Neb. 735, 291 N.W. 68 (1940).

It is an imperative duty of the judicial department of government to protect its jurisdiction at the boundaries of power fixed by the Constitution. State ex rel. Wright v. Barney, 133 Neb. 676, 276 N.W. 676 (1937).

Right to define and regulate the practice of law belongs to the Judicial Department of State Government. In re Integration of the Nebraska State Bar Association, 133 Neb. 283, 275 N.W. 265 (1937).

This section places judicial power in the courts. Laverty v. Cochran, 132 Neb. 118, 271 N.W. 354 (1936).

Supreme Court is vested with sole power to admit persons to practice of law in this state and to fix qualifications for admission to the bar. State ex rel. Wright v. Barlow, 131 Neb. 294, 268 N.W. 95 (1936).

Power conferred by special statute on Supreme Court Justice to require election commissioner to file nomination acceptance and place name on ballot is judicial, not quasi-political or administrative. State ex rel. Meissner v. McHugh, 120 Neb. 356, 233 N.W. 1 (1930).

Unless Constitution provides otherwise, Legislature may classify and regulate judicial powers and functions. State ex rel. Smyth v. Magney, 52 Neb. 508, 72 N.W. 1006 (1897).

Judicial power is the authority of some persons or tribunals to hear and determine a controversy and render judgment or decree binding parties thereto. Acknowledgment of deed is not judicial function. Horbach v. Tyrrell, 48 Neb. 514, 67 N.W. 485 (1896).

3. Judicial powers of administrative boards

Provision in Nebraska Clean Waters Commission Act regarding appointment of trustees construed so as not to violate this section. State ex rel. Meyer v. Duxbury, 183 Neb. 302, 160 N.W.2d 88 (1968).

Party who invoked special proceeding could not question constitutionality thereof under this section. Lackaff v. Department of Roads & Irrigation, 153 Neb. 217, 43 N.W.2d 576 (1950).

Reclamation Act did not violate this section. Nebraska Mid-State Reclamation District v. Hall County, 152 Neb. 410, 41 N.W.2d 397 (1950).

Statute providing for board of appraisers designated as "court of condemnation," does not create "court" in contravention of Constitution although board's functions are judicial in nature. City of Mitchell v. Western Public Service Co., 124 Neb. 248, 246 N.W. 484 (1933).

Statute empowering administrative department to cancel water appropriation after hearing, where water was not put to beneficial use, was not void as giving department judicial powers. Dawson County Irr. Co. v. McMullen, 120 Neb. 245, 231 N.W. 840 (1930).

Law authorizing appointment of three district judges to act as appraisers in condemnation of gas plant by municipality does not create new court. In re Appraisement of Omaha Gas Plant, 102 Neb. 782, 169 N.W. 725 (1918).

Conferring upon boards or individuals of executive or administrative functions requiring exercise of judicial powers does not thereby confer judicial functions. Enterprise Irrigation Dist. v. Tri-State Land Co., 92 Neb. 121, 138 N.W. 171 (1912).

Giving discretionary and regulatory powers to administrative board does not make it a judicial body. State ex rel. Prout v. Northwestern Trust Co., 72 Neb. 497, 101 N.W. 14 (1904).

Administrative board was not clothed with judicial functions because it incidentally determines water rights of riparian owners. Crawford Co. v. Hathaway, 60 Neb. 754, 84 N.W. 271 (1900).

Granting to county board of duty of passing on claims against county, with right of appeal to district court, does not confer judicial power. Stenberg v. State ex rel. Keller, 48 Neb. 299, 67 N.W. 190 (1896).

Conferring power on county board to oust county officer for corruption does not of itself confer judicial powers on such board. State ex rel. Walters v. Oleson, 15 Neb. 247, 18 N.W. 45 (1893).

4. Miscellaneous

Article V, section 30(3), of the Nebraska Constitution does not limit suspension with pay to the two instances listed; suspension may be imposed in other instances pursuant to this provision. In re Complaint Against Jones, 255 Neb. 1, 581 N.W.2d 876 (1998).

Where district judges are appointed to appraise property in condemnation proceedings, the body thus created is not a court but a special tribunal. May v. City of Kearney, 145 Neb. 475, 17 N.W.2d 448 (1945).

Creation of municipal courts is provided for in Constitution, and vacancies in office of judge of municipal court must be filled in accordance with constitutional provisions. State ex rel. Hunter v. Maguire, 136 Neb. 365, 285 N.W. 921 (1939).

An affirmative statute giving a remedy not known to the common law does not take away the common law remedy. State ex rel. Wright v. Barney, 133 Neb. 676, 276 N.W. 676 (1937).

Freedom of press does not extend to contemptuous interferences with pending litigation. State v. Lovell, 117 Neb. 710, 222 N.W. 625 (1929).

Notary public cannot impose fine or imprisonment in punishment for contempt in taking of depositions. Courtnay v. Knox, 31 Neb. 652, 48 N.W. 763 (1891).

District judge is not officer of county, but of state. Jones v. York County, 26 F.2d 623 (8th Cir. 1928).