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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Gray Matter: US Attorney appointment impressive

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A young friend (well maybe not so young, but anyone my kids' age is young to me) recently told me of a happening which he thought would make a great Gray Matter.  Acting on his suggestion, I found he was absolutely right.  It's always good to hear of the special honors or accomplishments of folks with Cherokee County connections.

This time a gentleman named Joe E. Stecher was named United States Attorney for the District of Nebraska.  Stecher is the husband of Sally Specht whose  parents were the late Harris and Helen Specht of Marcus.  Sally, a Marcus High graduate, Class of 1972, continued her education at Wayne State College where she met Joe Stecher, a farmer's son from Hooper, NE.  After finishing his BA, Joe earned a law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law.

Before this appointment, he had served as assistant in the office of US Attorney, Mike Heavican, who resigned to become chief justice of Nebraska's Supreme Court.  Stecher had previously been County Attorney of Dodge County and had served, 1996-2002, as director of the Nebraska County Attorney's Association. 

I had no idea of  the duties of a U S Attorney, so it took a bit of research to discover that there are 93 such officers in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Marianas. 

Depending on population, the number of districts in each state varies.  Iowa, for example, has two districts, while the entire state of Nebraska comprises one.  US Attorneys are appointed by, and serve at the discretion of, the President, with advice and consent of the US Senate.  It is their duty to conduct most of the trial work in which the United States is a party. 

Their three statutory responsibilities are 1) prosecution of criminal cases brought by the federal government;   2) prosecution and defense of civil cases in which the US is a party; and 3) collection of debts owed the Federal government which are administratively uncollectible.  In other words, the Hon. Joe Stecher has an extremely responsible position.

Cousins of Mrs. Stecher, the Melvin Mayer family of Marcus, were invited to the impressive swearing in ceremonies, held August 16, 2007, in the Federal Courthouse in Omaha.  Mrs. Mayer (Lois) and son, Tom, were able to attend.  The event opened with the Presentation of the Colors by the Boy Scouts, followed by a prayer by the Stechers' 16-year-old son, Grant.  At this time more than twenty-five robed judges  processed in, followed by numerous other dignitaries. 

Attorney Stecher's mother, his wife and their two sons were seated prominently at the front of the courtroom.  His father is deceased.

Opening remarks were given by Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court Heavican, Stecher's predecessor as US Attorney.  The impressive Presidential Appointment was then read by a Courtroom Deputy.  Following this, the Oath of Office was administered by the Chief Federal Judge.  Then  Stecher himself made some appropriate remarks, including a touching wish that his father might have lived to see this special day.  The ceremony, ending with the Boy Scouts retiring the colors, was followed by a reception.  Sally's sisters, Jalaine, Margee and Shelly, whom many in the area  remember, were all there with their families.

It does, indeed, sound like a very special occasion.  But what I think is most special, is the fact that the fellow found best qualified for this lofty position is of solid, rural origins.  Perhaps we shouldn't let on to our urbane sophisticated city friends, but wouldn't you agree that that is something many of us could have told them all along?