Courts in Session at the Capitol

The Cornhusker Boys’ State Supreme Court was in session in the Nebraska State Supreme Courtroom at the State Capitol.  In order to become a member of the judiciary, a CBS citizen must generally be appointed by the sitting Boys’ State Governor.

Citizens seeking a judicial appointment to either the Supreme Court or one of the two District Courts must appear before a nominating committee, typically comprised of each pair of candidates (Nationalist and Federalist) for high political office who survive the primary election. The nominating committee forwards it recommendations to the Governor for final appointment. Once appointed, members of the judiciary are formally sworn-in by a member of the Nebraska Supreme Court.  In addition, the Cornhusker Boys’ State Supreme Court traditionally participates in a mock case within the dignified courtroom of the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Judicial Students Get Their First Mock Case

By:Andrew Graff

After a morning session including an explanation of the opportunities in a legal career, the judicial candidates finally got down to brass tacks, or in this case, white powder. The group was divided into four sections, and each was given a primary briefing of the case on which they would participate. The basic facts of the crime presented were that three criminals conspired in an attempt to sell a kilogram of cocaine. After being arrested, they faced time in prison ranging from six to thirty years depending on their previous crimes, misdemeanors, and felonies. The mock defense attorneys’ job was to negotiate a plea deal that would result in the least amount of jail time as possible. The prosecuting attorneys’ job, however, was the exact opposite; their goal was to get the most amount of jail time for the criminals as possible. After a description of the goals, one mock attorney from each of the four groups joined into a trail group to negotiate sentences. The final sentences ranged from no time served to thirty years in prison, a true representation of the actual ranges of real-life crimes.

Judicial Appointments


Chief Justice


Associate Justices

Washington County

Lincoln County


District Justices

Wasington County

Lincoln County

Oglala Sioux Tribe v. multiple defendants

This year, Boys’ State judges and lawyers got the opportunity to hear and argue actual cases that have gone before the United States Supreme Court. The third case, Oglala Sioux Tribe v. multiple defendants, was presented to determine whether retail sellers of beer, distributors of alcoholic products, and brewing manufacturers, including Anheuser-Busch InBev Worldwide, Inc., SAB Miller, Molson Coors Brewing Company, MillerCoors, LLC and Pabst Brewing Company, had knowingly acted in concert to manufacture, distribute and sell beer through the Whiteclay retail outlets in amounts that cannot be legally sold, consumed or possessed under the laws of the State of Nebraska and the Oglala Sioux Tribe.*

Below are comments from District Judge Jared Pohlmann from Deshler, Nebraska.

“This case was brought to the court on the basis that the Oglala Sioux Tribe blame the Multiple Defendants located in White Clay for selling alcohol to their native people, and thus destroying the native people’s lives on the reservation where alcohol is banned. The plaintiff (Oglala Sioux) stated that Chester Arthur took part of the Pine Ridge Reservation and made a buffer zone of 50 miles which included Whiteclay. They stated that the land was not taken from the reservation but just formed a buffer from it. On the other hand, the defendants quickly responded with the fact that in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt reduced the buffer by 49 miles, creating a 1 mile buffer. Whiteclay resides 2 miles from the reservation, making the selling of alcohol legal. The court decided that the defendants were not breaking the law. Therefore the court ruled in favor of the multiple defendants. While selling to the residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation may not be morally correct or just, there is no proof of the town breaking any state or federal laws.”


Monsanto v. Bowman

This year, Boys’ State judges and lawyers got the opportunity to hear and argue actual cases that have gone before the United States Supreme Court. The second case, Bowman v. Monsanto Corporation, was presented to determine whether patent exhaustion does or does not permit a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission.*

Below are comments from District Judge Caleb Wilson (Valley Forge) from Elwood, Nebraska and Trevor Polivka, a District Judge (Yorktown) from Lincoln, Nebraska.

“In this case I ruled in favor of Monsanto because of a few points. First is that the seed had a genetic resistance to Roundup and even though it wasn’t the first strain, it still had the genetic similarities that were marketed. Second is that even though Mr. Bowman had been doing this planting for a long time, he first had to spray the growing corn to see if he had any of that marketable strain from Monsanto seed. The third point is that Mr. Bowman signed the documents at the elevator to verify that he was using the seed for feed and not planting. Feeding this seed was not the case for Mr. Bowman. He planted to get the genetic strain that had resilience and that was also patented to Monsanto who still had the rights to it.”

“This case is about one farmer who found a loop hole in a large company’s patent agreement and is being sued because of it. In this case I ruled for the side of Bowman. Bowman did sign the patent doctrine when he bought the seed, however I see nothing wrong with what he did. He abided by the doctrine and sold all of his crop every year, as instructed, to a public grain elevator. Then the next year after he purchased more modified seed from Monsanto. He went back to the grain elevator he sold his crop to last year and bought more seed from them, in order to fertilize and grow more soybeans mixed in with his purchase of seed from Monsanto for a large healthy crop this season. There was no guarantee that he would be getting modified seed from the grain elevator from the year before, so I believe this is not a problem, seeing how it was a public grain elevator where other farmers could buy from and also sell their ordinary crop to the year before. He did not sell it “under the table” to other farmers and sold it like the doctrine said, so he is not breaking any rules, and they have no good evidence to convict him.”


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