The Unicameral and How it Works

By Andrew Stone, Bataan

To start things off, let’s break down the word unicameral. Actually, the only thing that needs clarification on is the first three letters. Uni: meaning just ‘one.’ But what does that have to do with politics? Simple. Our federal, or national, government is a bicameral system. Two houses. We should all be quite familiar with the workings of that system, so let’s gloss over it. In a unicameral system, only one house runs the show. Much like anything that has existed ever, it has pros and cons.

First, the pros. Benefits of a unicameral system come from its size. With a smaller group, each representative gets a chance to speak on an issue. That’s excellent, as all aspects of the argument can be addressed equally. This also lends to a faster process when there is no push back from any other outside group. For its last, but far from least important, benefit; the opportunity to be bipartisan, or neutral. Countless political arguments are based in party affiliation. Take that away, and you truly have politics based solely in the candidates’ prerogatives, rather than the parties’.

However, no one thing has ever been perfect ever. A unicameral system has to deal with a lot of road blocks. People can divide up the already small house to be deadlocked on an issue for what seems to be an eternity. It’s very bad when bills cannot be passed. Also, when the people are not tied to a party, decisions are truly to the individual. Take, for example, the death penalty. If literally every single person in a representative’s district says that the death penalty should be kept, that representative doesn’t need to vote his or her constituents.

 

State Court System and How it Works

Joseph Hunter, Yorktown

Today, several members of each town attended a meeting with Lincoln-based litigator Steve Gealy. Mr. Gealy explained the state judicial system and his 35 years of success in that system. Topics ranging from jurisdiction to the uses of the English language to critical thinking were discussed.

Mr. Gealy opened by explaining the hierarchy of the Nebraska court system. From the Supreme Court down to the county courts, each one varies in its jurisdiction and power. The Supreme Court is the most powerful court in the State of Nebraska. The Supreme Court is comprised of six Associate Justices and one Chief Justice and is commonly known as the decisions court. One step lower on the food chain are the district courts. Nebraska has 12 judicial districts, which are broken down by population. This means that one district court can have anywhere from 2-16 district court judges. The district courts hear cases on criminal and civil issues. On the bottom of the food chain are the county courts. County courts are tasked with hearing cases involving misdemeanor charges and civil cases valuing amounts less than $52,000. In every courtroom, however, there is a cornucopia of talent and thought.

From the judge to the lawyers to the jury (in some cases), both critical thinking and command of the English language are needed to articulate points. Judges must know what the law says, but often times this is hard to do. The Legislature often writes in such a way that causes there to be a grey area which is left for the lawyers and judges to interpret. This grey area causes for there to be no easy answer, no quick answer, and no clear circumstances for decisions. This requires every person involved in a case to have critical thinking skills in order to come to an answer to a question or to make a decision in a divorce case.

In the end, Mr. Gealy wrapped up by answering several questions over various legal issues such as juvenile crimes, insurance fraud, and the different types of murder charges.

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