Judge of the County Court, 5th Judicial District, Gerald Rouse, is retiring effective December 31, 2012, after almost four decades of service on the county court bench in Seward, Nebraska, and surrounding areas.
Judge Rouse was voted into office in a non-partisan election in 1971 and began serving as an elected judge in 1972. He served for one year and transferred to the Merit Selection when the system was instituted January 1, 1973. He has been successfully reelected to his county court position at each successive election.
Nebraska voters adopted the Judicial Retention, or Merit Selection system, as a constitutional amendment in 1962. Originally, it applied only to the selection of judges to the Supreme Court and district courts. In 1973, it was extended to include all of Nebraska’s state court judges.
Merit Selection allows lawyers to apply for judgeships based on the merit of their work. It emphasizes the selection of judges based on their professional qualifications rather than political name recognition and is widely believed to be the most effective way to ensure that Nebraska has fair and impartial courts.
In a letter to Chief Justice Mike Heavican, Judge Rouse noted, “I want to say how great it has been to have been a county judge, first in the 21st Judicial District, and then the 5th Judicial District.”
Judge Rouse is well known for his work with the juvenile justice system throughout his career. His legacy includes the establishment of the Big Brother/Big Sister program of Columbus, Nebraska, and the improvement of the juvenile justice system in and throughout Nebraska. Over the years he has received numerous honors for his dedication to children. He has received awards from the Nebraska State Bar Foundation, the Nebraska State Bar Association, the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, the State Foster Care Review Board, and the Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association.
In announcing his retirement to the Governor, Judge Rouse wrote, “I would like to thank all of the Supreme Court staff over the years for their hard work and support. I would also like to thank the wonderful associate judges and clerk magistrates in my district, as well my fellow judges.”
The first step in replacing Judge Rouse will be for the Judicial Resources Commission to call a meeting to determine whether or not, based on judicial workload statistics, his retirement creates a judicial vacancy on the county court of the 5th Judicial District (Boone, Butler, Colfax, Hamilton, Merrick, Nance, Platte, Polk, Saunders, Seward and York Counties).