Nebraska: Judges Michael Coffey & Greg Schatz have some explaining to do over winking, blinking and nods for DUI family and friends

Judge Schatz Nebraska Douglas County District Douglas County District Court Judge Michael Coffey NE
Judge Greg Schatz, left, Judge Michael Coffey, right.

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From Omaha World-Herald

Two Douglas County district judges are facing ethics complaints over their interventions in separate DUI cases, one involving an acquaintance, the other a daughter.

District Judge Greg Schatz has a hearing next week over his involvement in the felony drunken driving case of an acquaintance, Omaha attorney Michael Davlin.

Terms of that ethics complaint have not been made public, but two people familiar with the case told The World-Herald that Schatz called a jail and, against protocol, ordered the attorney released.

District Judge Michael Coffey had his own ethics hearing in July after repeatedly intervening in his adult daughter’s DUI case.

Jeffre Cheuvront, retired Lancaster County district judge, is presiding over each case and will make a recommendation to the Nebraska Supreme Court on whether each judge should be disciplined. Results can range from no action to a public reprimand, suspension or, in extremely rare cases, removal from the bench.

The 10-member Judicial Qualifications Commission — made up of Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican, attorneys and citizens —  accused the judges of violating an ethical code that essentially forbids judges from using their position to influence the outcome of cases outside their courtrooms.

The allegations in each case:

Schatz

About 10 p.m. Aug. 6, 2012, Davlin drove drunk and hit a tree just off 114th Street, south of West Center Road. Police arrested him and booked him on suspicion of third-offense felony DUI. Davlin’s blood-alcohol content was .247 percent, three times the legal limit of .08.   ….MORE

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