Archive for Friday, June 30, 2006

Judge honored as groups celebrate milestones

June 30, 2006


Call it extreme foresight.

Years before the state Supreme Court mandated counties to start organizations that train volunteers to advocate for children in need of care, Douglas County District Court Judge Jean Shepherd helped found the state's first Citizen Review Board.

Five years later, Shepherd also helped found Douglas County CASA Inc., which serves a similar purpose.

"It's just kind of serendipity that they both have these big anniversaries this year, and I'm glad I get to see it," Shepherd said. "When you start these programs, you don't know if they are going to really take hold or if they are going to last for a couple of years and fade out, and I feel certain that these programs are permanently here."

This year, the Douglas County Citizen Review Board celebrates its 20th anniversary, and Douglas County CASA Inc. celebrates its 15th year.

Dozens gathered to honor Shepherd on Thursday evening at Corpus Christi Catholic Church. Beginning in 2007, an annual award will be given to a volunteer from each organization and named for her.

"We decided it was only fitting to have both anniversary celebrations together, and it was only fitting to honor (Shepherd), who is basically the founder of both programs," said Kerry Tummons, executive director of CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Volunteers for both groups help advocate for children in need of care who have possibly been abused and have to appear in court. The volunteers review the child's case, interview parties involved and help judges determine where best to place the children, which can be back with their families or possibly in adoption.

"It takes the community to be aware that there is a child-abuse problem in Douglas County, and it takes the community to solve it," Tummons said.

CRB volunteers also help process juvenile offender cases.

CASA, a United Way-sponsored agency that receives funding from additional sources, has served more than 625 abused or neglected children in the county since it began. It now has 50 active volunteers with another class in training. About 40 people currently serve with the grant-funded CRB.

Audio Clips
Shepherd honored

Both organizations' volunteers also work with the children in all facets of their lives, including the school and possibly mental health systems, Shepherd said.

As the organizations look to the future, both directors hope to reach out to find volunteers from a younger generation and from more diverse backgrounds.

"As the population of Lawrence continues to diversify, so does our need for volunteers representing all of the kids," said Heather Krase-Minnick, the CRB's director.

The directors, volunteers and friends lauded Shepherd on Thursday.

"She is an expert in her field, and an outstanding advocate for children and is known across the state and I assume across the country in fact for her work on the behalf of children," Krase-Minnick said.

Shepherd returned the praise.

"They are the ones who make the big commitment of time. It's not their job; they do it out of love," said Shepherd, who has served as a district judge since 1984.


Scott Drummond 11 years, 9 months ago

Can't believe I get to be the first one to say so, but let me just say that Lawrence is extremely lucky to have such a dedicated and caring family court judge. I say that as someone with years of first hand knowledge of her work and admiration for her dedication for getting things right. There are countless children, and by now adults, in Douglas County (and beyond) who owe their improved lot in life to the work of Judge Shepherd and owe her their thanks, as well.

Michael Birch 11 years, 9 months ago

I don't think much of judges myself! She is just another politian to me. As far as I'm concerned, they are just as bad as the ambulance chaser lawyers who drive up our insurance premiums! DHD

dozer 11 years, 9 months ago

DownHomeDude - How can you criticize Sheperd for establishing organizations that help children in our community? Your post simply demonstrates you are a moron.

Baille 11 years, 9 months ago

I don't know that DHD is a moron. He is certainly gullible, though, falling for the insurance industries fiction about premiums. Two minutes on google and one can find study after study proving no correlation between making negligent people take responsibility and pay for the damage they cause and the fluctuation in insurance premiums.

Scott Drummond 11 years, 9 months ago

"they are just as bad as the ambulance chaser lawyers who drive up our insurance premiums!"

And how, pray tell, do they do that? Please explain.

Baille 11 years, 9 months ago

In the process of chasing the ambulances in hopes of making sure the right parties bear the loss of whatever negilgence necessitated the ambulance in the first place, these attorneys forget to contact their financial planners.

Commuters, those hardy souls who are the grease in teh American economic machine, see the ambulance chasing attorneys and they slow down an pay more attention to their driving. This delay causes a dip in their productivity, and worse, as they struggle to make up for loss time, they too forget to contact their financial planners.

The doctors treating the poor soul victimized by another driver's negligence and transported in the ambulance chased by the attorneys, who must now pay more attention to the way in which they provide medical care and treatment for fear of negligently causing someone harm for which they will be held accountable by the ambulance chasing attorneys for any harms they cause by negligent provision of medical care and treatment, also fail to contact their financial planners.

Consequently, the financial planners cannot buy and sell stock nor is there any fresh revenue going into the market. Instead, new money is being eaten up by credit card debt and the smothered by the stagnation caused by the Republican-backed bankruptcy laws. The stock market reels. The resulting dip in stock prices causes unanticipated losses on the billions EACH insurance company has invested. Because most expenditures in an insurance company are hard costs and as such nearly impossible to cut, the only way to recoup these losses is to raise revenue, i.e. premiums.

Damn ambulance chasers.

ellicott 10 years, 2 months ago

Can't believe I am the first to have the opportunity to say so, but CASA in the hands of poor judges becomes opportunity for the judges to stack the decks in court in their favor----for their own (career or pride-influenced)interests, not the children's. CASA in the hands of good and kind judges becomes much more often, yes, an opportunity for good. But this is how these courts and agencies can be the lion's den for children, particularly when these children are so often marked as weak or deficient by some protocol, in speech, or emotional clarity, or general learning ability; they can so much more easily become unknown or why-know-them pawns in power struggles between lawyers and judges.

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