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How do Nebraska Courts work?

The Supreme Court serves as the highest legal authority in the State of Nebraska, and oversees the decisions made by the Court of Appeals. This allows the Supreme Court to weigh in when necessary on conflicts, questions of law, and precedents. The Supreme Court consists of a Chief Justice, as well as six associate justices. The Court of Appeals in turn oversees the decisions made by lower courts, after one party contests a decision. The Court of Appeals is made up of six judges, with one chief judge who serves two-year terms. These courts will be one of the 93 superior or trial courts across the 93 Nebraska counties.

Civil Cases and Small Claims

There are a number of key differences between civil cases and small claims cases in the state of Nebraska. Civil cases involve those in which the petitioner is asking for more than $175,000, of which there are around 150,000 annually. However, civil court also deals with non-monetary cases such as dispute over property, name changes and restraining orders. On the other hand, small claims court deals with cases in which the petitioner is looking for $2,400 or less, of which there are around 75,000 per year. These deal with such issues as dispute over deposits, warranties, repairs, loans, and more. The small claims court can also order the defendant into an action, such as repaying a fee.

Appeals and court limits

There are also key differences between how civil cases and small claims cases are structured in terms of appeals and court limits. Pretrial discovery is allowed in civil court, but not in small claims court. A person is also allowed to have their lawyer represent them and file papers on their behalf in civil cases, but not in small claims cases. Either party can appeal a decision made in civil court, but only the defendant can appeal in small claims. There is a filing fee of $30-$100 per claim in small claims court, with the parties being given 30-70 days to complete their case. In civil court, the filing fee is between $180 and $320, and the parties are given up to 120 days to complete their case.

Why are court records public?

The Nebraska Public Records Law came into place back in 1886, with the most recent amendment coming in 2007. This law aimed to ensure that the public of Nebraska could access public records at will. All records maintained by either the state or local government are available for the public to access and copy if they so wish. This is seen as a fundamental right of the citizens of Nebraska, and helps maintain transparency and safeguard government accountability.

To access records:

2413 State Capitol
1445 K Street / P.O. Box 98910
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-3731
Fax: (402) 471-3480


Nebraska Court Structure
Nebraska State Archives

State Archives

Contact: (531) 214-1259

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The Thayer County Courthouse, one of the oldest in Nebraska, was built in 1903.

  • The Nebraska court system has 6 different courts. These are the Nebraska Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the District Courts, the County Courts, the Separate Juvenile Court, and the Workers’ Compensation Court.
  • The Nebraska Supreme Court was established in 1854 and is located in the state capitol of Lincoln.
  • The Nebraska Supreme Court holds 7 judicial positions. They run retention election cycles of 3 years, and are granted retirement at 65 or earlier due to disabilities.
  • The Nebraska Court of Appeals has 6 judicial positions, and serves as an intermediate level appellate court.