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Lang v. Howard County

Supreme Court of Nebraska

December 20, 2013

Catherine D. Lang, Commissioner of Labor, appellant,
v.
Howard County, Nebraska, and Robert J. Sivick, appellees.

Page 877

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 878

Appeal from the District Court for Howard County: MARK D. KOZISEK, Judge. Reversed.

John H. Albin, Thomas A. Ukinski, and Caleb Dutson, Senior Certified Law Student, for appellant.

Robert J. Sivick, pro se.

Page 879

Heavican, C.J., Wright, Connolly, Stephan, McCormack, Miller-Lerman, and Cassel, JJ.

1. Counties: Public Officers and Employees: Time. Generally, a county attorney is elected in each county at the statewide general election held every 4 years and serves a term of 4 years or until his or her successor is elected and qualified.

2. Counties: Public Officers and Employees. If no county attorney is elected at the statewide general election or if a vacancy occurs for any other reason, a county board may appoint a qualified attorney to the office of county attorney.

3. Counties: Public Officers and Employees: Contracts. If a county board appoints an attorney to the office of county attorney, it must negotiate a contract with the attorney which specifies the terms and conditions of the appointment.

4. Employment Security: Judgments: Appeal and Error. In an appeal from the Nebraska Appeal Tribunal to the district court regarding unemployment benefits, the district court conducts the review de novo on the record, but on review by the Nebraska Court of Appeals or the Nebraska Supreme Court, the judgment of the district court may be reversed, vacated, or modified for errors appearing on the record. When reviewing a judgment for errors appearing on the record, the inquiry is whether the decision conforms to law, is supported by competent evidence, and is neither arbitrary, capricious, nor unreasonable.

5. Judgments: Statutes: Appeal and Error. Concerning questions of law and statutory interpretation, an appellate court has an obligation to reach an independent conclusion irrespective of the decision made by the court below.

6. Political Subdivisions: Employment Security: Words and Phrases. Services performed for a political subdivision in a position which, under or pursuant to the state law, is designated " a major nontenured policymaking or advisory position" are excluded from the definition of " employment" under the Employment Security Law.

7. Statutes. Absent a statutory indication to the contrary, words in a statute will be given their ordinary meaning.

8. Public Officers and Employees. Under Nebraska statutes, an important function of a county attorney is to provide advice.

9. Public Officers and Employees: Employment Security: Words and Phrases. " Magic words" are not necessary for a position to be designated " a major nontenured policymaking or advisory position" under the Employment Security Law.

10. Public Officers and Employees. In determining whether a position is a major nontenured policymaking or advisory position, it is enough that a statute, regulation, executive order, or the like communicate the concept that the position is policymaking or advisory.

[287 Neb. 67] 11. Statutes. Where the words of a statute are plain, direct, and unambiguous, no interpretation is needed to ascertain the meaning.

12. Appeal and Error. An appellate court is not obligated to engage in an analysis that is not necessary to adjudicate ...


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