Dornan Recognized by Eighth Circuit Court Association

Omaha Attorney Stu Dornan has been recognized for his lifetime of contributions to the advancement of the legal community by the Eighth Circuit Bar Association.

The bar association presented Dornan with its Richard S. Arnold Award for Distinguished Service during the Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference last October.

“It’s quite an honor and very humbling to be the recipient of (the award),” Dornan said in an interview with The Daily Record.

The award is named in honor of former Chief Judge Richard S. Arnold, whose storied career included graduating first in his class at Yale University and Harvard Law School. Judge Arnold clerked for Justice William Brennan on the Supreme Court of the United States before entering private practice and serving on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

When he first heard that he would be receiving what amounts to a lifetime achievement award from the Eighth Circuit Bar Association, Dornan couldn’t help but see a bit of irony.

“I’ve actually presented those sorts of awards to folks who have been around for a long time,” Dornan said. “Although, I think I still have some gas left in the tank.”

Dornan, who received his Juris Doctor from Louisiana State University Law Center in 1983, began his legal career more than 35 years ago as a law clerk for Judge Randolph H. Parro of the 17th District Court of Louisiana.

Following his clerkship, Dornan had a brief stint in Omaha as a special agent of the FBI from 1984 to 1987. After a few years of investigating cases, Dornan realized that if he ever wanted to try his hand at being an attorney, now was the time to do it.

“I would present the investigative reports to the assistant United States attorney and I said, “Boy, it would be fun to try this rather than just be a witness,” Dornan said. “I knew the longer I stayed at the Bureau, the greater the chance I would never practice law.”

Dornan returned to Louisiana and got a job with the Terrebonne Parish Public Defender’s Office.

Dornan and his wife, Dari, then spent about a year in Texas before returning to Omaha in 1990, where they settled and raised their family. With his experience from working at the public defender’s office in Louisiana, “I was fortunate to be hired by Gallup and Schaefer, a top criminal defense firm,” Dornan said.

Dornan remained at Gallup and Schaefer, first as an associate, then as a partner, until 2003, when he was elected as Douglas County Attorney.

As county attorney, Dornan worked to implement various restorative justice initiatives, including the Young Adult Court, Juvenile Assessment Center and the Mental Health Diversion Program.

I think (rehabilitation) is the way to be smart on crime,” Dornan said. “I think that the more support we provide for victims, and also in the same way for offenders, we have a much better chance of having a victim being recompensed, if possible, and having some satisfaction out of the criminal justice system by providing for their needs, and at the same time doing whatever we can to help the offender rehabilitate themselves so they can become a tax payer rather than a tax burden.”

In 2007, Dornan returned to private practice, co-founding the Dornan Law Team, where he has continued his career as a criminal defense attorney to this day.

Throughout his legal career, Dornan has received numerous honors and awards, including the Family Service Commitment to Family Award, the Angels in Adoption Award. He was named a Great Plains Super Lawyer and National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers for 2012.

Last October, Dornan also announced his candidacy for the Legislature. He is seeking to replace State Sen. John McCollister, who is barred from running for reelection due to term limits.

Dornan said he was inspired to run thanks to two books he recently read: “The Second Mountain,” By New York Times columnist David Brooks, and “Falling Upwards,” By Richard Rohr.

“Basically, the theme is, what are you going to do in the fourth quarter of your life, after you’ve raised a family in my case, and want to start transitioning back from the (legal) practice,” Dornan said. “I thought this might be a nice opportunity, hopefully, to be a capstone for the career.”

Src: The Daily Record via
by David Golbitz