Share story

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — An Omaha attorney will fill a vacancy on the Nebraska Supreme Court, Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Wednesday.

The governor’s office said Ricketts has chosen Jonathan J. Papik to replace Justice Max Kelch, who resigned after less than two years on the bench following an ethics complaint filed against him.

Sen. Ernie Chambers is seeking to disbar Kelch, who he has frequently condemned during floor debate for inappropriate conduct.

Papik, who grew up in Stromsburg, served as a law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals under Judge Laurence H. Silberman and Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, who is now on the U.S. Supreme Court. Gorsuch was appointed by President Donald Trump last year to replace Antonin Scalia.

In private practice, Papik focused on constitutional and governmental litigation, business litigation and legal malpractice defense. He is a partner at Cline Williams Wright Johnson & Oldfather, where he has practiced for nearly eight years.

Papik graduated with honors from Harvard Law School and served as an executive editor for the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.

He is Ricketts’ fourth appointment to the state Supreme Court.

“He has a great legal mind and is dedicated to upholding the constitution,” the governor said.

Papik will represent the 4th Judicial District, which includes portions of Douglas and Sarpy counties.