Gage County Board Gets Feedback on How to Proceed With Beatrice Six Case

BEATRICE – The Gage County Board of Supervisors is getting a lot of free advice on how to proceed with the Beatrice Six case, as the county prepares to formally appeal to the full U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Lenhart Fritzen, of rural Filley said a bankruptcy filing probably should have happened two years ago, when the expense was smaller.

:13                  “on the roads”

Supervisors took public comment today at the start of their regular agenda. Former Nebraska State Senator Norm Wallman feels the State of Nebraska bears responsibility.

:21                  “make ‘em pay”

Roy Lauby, a rural Wymore business owner said he’s disappointed the county is “going to kick the can down the road again”, on the trial and judgment outcome.

He was critical of officials for holding discussion surrounding the case, behind closed doors.

:35                  “county employees”

Lauby said it was “shameful in his mind”, that the county, in his words, “continues to persecute these people”.

Supervisor Erich Tiemann says the board’s dispute isn’t over guilt or innocence of the Beatrice Six, but rather how the county proceeds on a civil rights case.  County officials have said many things can’t be discussed in open session, while the case is still on appeal.

Greg Lauby, of Wymore, wants county officials to provide answers to some specific questions.  Among them…has there been any suggestion for the Governor to budget funds for the final federal decision in the cases, or has there been a similar request for the legislature to allocate funds.

:33                  “six”

Lauby also wants to know if there was any physical evidence of the six people’s presence in the home of the murder and rape victim, in the 1985 crime.  Lauby also wonders how many years it would take to pay the judgment, interest and attorneys fees, and what the effect of filing bankruptcy would be.

County officials say about $1.77 million on legal fees has been spent on the case.

Gage County Board chairman Myron Dorn said even if the county raised its total levy from about 38 cents, to the maximum 50 cents allowed under law, that would raise about $3.8 million in additional tax money, annually.

County Board member Matt Bauman says frequent conversations have been held about the budget impact of the ruling.  He said it’s not physically possible to pay the entire judgment, based on the total valuation in the county.

He said if the county shut down all operations, it would likely take about three years to pay the judgment, taxing at the limit.

:43                  “all the way around”

Gage County has until June 25th to make the formal appeal to the full 8th Circuit Court.  A three-judge panel of that court recently upheld the U.S. District Court Jury verdict and judgment, against the county.

Board members were meeting in closed session today with separate teams of attorneys on the Beatrice Six case, on potential insurance coverage and on a possible bankruptcy filing.

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