LINCOLN — Nebraska Court of Appeals Judge John Irwin announced plans Friday to retire after 24 years on the bench.

The Omaha native was named to the newly created appeals court by then-Gov. Ben Nelson in 1991. He served as chief judge of the court from 1998 to 2004 and is the last of the court’s original judges still serving.

“Judge Irwin has been instrumental in establishing a court culture aimed at serving the citizens of our state through the timely rendering of well-reasoned decisions,” said Chief Court of Appeals Judge Frankie Moore. “He has worked tirelessly to improve our court processes to make the appellate system of justice both efficient and transparent for the parties and public.”

During his tenure Irwin wrote several hundred court opinions and contributed as a panel member to even more.

He was a co-chairman of the Nebraska State Bar Association and the Nebraska Supreme Court Minority Justice Committee. Nationally, Irwin has been active in the National Council of Chief Judges and was council president in 2004. He was chairman of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts’ 2012 conference.

He has written about judicial ethics, judicial selection and implicit bias, and he was a leader of the Judicial Branch Education Committee.

Before being named to the bench he was chief deputy attorney and deputy attorney for Sarpy County, and he spent five years in private practice.

The Judicial Nominating Commission will announce a deadline for the submission of applications to replace Irwin.

» Also announcing retirement plans Friday was Judge Laureen Van Norman, presiding judge for the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court. She plans to step down Jan. 5 after 23 years on the bench.

Van Norman was the court’s presiding judge twice, first from December 1995 through June 1997 and then from March 2007 through the present.

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Martha Stoddard keeps legislators honest from The World-Herald's Lincoln bureau, where she covers news from the State Capitol. Follow her on Twitter @StoddardOWH. Phone: 402-473-9583.

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