Options For Paying $28.1 Million Judgment Heard by Gage County Board

BEATRICE – Gage County Board members today heard options for paying the Beatrice Six case civil judgment… which will significantly impact county budgeting and operations for years to come.

The board spent over an hour in closed session with attorneys discussing payment methods.

In open session, attorney James Overcash with Woods and Aitken Law Firm of Lincoln, said one method is making payments…the other is a lump sum.

:32                  “proportional basis”

The payments would be made following tax collection periods during the spring and fall.

Overcash said there are likely three ways by which the county could pay off the judgment in lump sum.

:33                  “for that”

In the 2017 Nebraska Legislative session, legislation was introduced (LB 353), which proposed a change that would allow the state to make loans to pay off judgments, like that in the Beatrice Six case.  Six defendants were cleared of involvement in a 1985 rape and murder of a Beatrice woman, after they had spent a combined more than 75 years in state prison.  DNA evidence pointed to a drifter, who died in Oklahoma in 1992.

Gage County is trying to get the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the county’s appeal of the federal jury verdict and more than $28 million judgment, but whether the high court will consider it will not be known until late this year, at the earliest.  That’s past the county’s budget period for the new fiscal year.

Supervisors met with Overcash and attorney Steve Likes of the Omaha firm Kutak Rock, during the closed session.

County Board Chairman Myron Dorn said the payment options will now become part of the decision-making process with the new Gage County budget, which goes before a public hearing, September 12th.

:16                  “shape up”

Dorn says the county board will need to establish specific budget numbers by August 29th, to have enough time to publish the proposed county budget, prior to the public hearing.

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