Power and Duties


Power and Duties of Various Officials

The Nebraska statutes outline the various duties of the officials of county government. The following is an outline of the offices which are specifically stated in the statutes. The description is not exhaustive. Therefor, a statutory reference is given for further descriptions in the statutes themselves:

COUNTY ATTORNEY: This attorney has a duty to prosecute or defend all civil or criminal suits in which the state or county is a party or interested, on behalf of the state or county. Section 23-1201(2). The county attorney shall appear before any magistrate and conduct any criminal examination, prosecute all civil suits before any magistrate in which the state or county is party or interested. Section 23-1202. when the county board or county officers request opinions or advice concerning duties of the offices or matters in which the state or county may have an interest, the county attorney shall give opinions or advice for no fee. Section 23-1203. The county attorney shall perform all duties enjoined by law upon the county coroner and shall be ex officio county coroner. Section 23-1210 (1996 - LB 1011).

PUBLIC DEFENDER: Sections 23-3401 et. seq. Counties with populations greater than 100,000 and in other counties upon approval of the county board, the county shall have a public defender. In counties in which there exists the office of public defender, it shall be duty of the public defender to represent all indigent persons (1) who are charged with a felony, or 92) a misdemeanor offense which may be punishable by imprisonment, or 93) whom a petition has been filed before a mental health board. The public defender shall represent the indigent defendant at all critical states of the proceedings against them, through the stage of sentencing. Appointment of a public defender shall be made by the court as provided in Sections 20-3902 and 29-3903.

COUNTY CLERK: Section 23-1301 et seq. The county clerk's duties include recording all proceedings of the board and attending all its meetings. They must also attend all meetings of the County Board of Equalization as provide din section 77-1501. the clerk must countersign all warrants issued by the board which have bee signed by the chairman. Special duties, as required by law may also be necessary. The clerk must keep a record of all official bonds and a record of the layout, changes and improvements to all roads. The clerk must also report to the Secretary of State the names of al country officials, their signatures, and their seals of office before February 1. The country clerk may also appoint a deputy for whose acts the clerk will be responsible. The country treasurer, sheriff, register of deeds, or surveyor may not be appointed as deputies.

REGISTER OF DEEDS: Section 23-1501 et seq. The register of deeds has the power to take acknowledgements, administer oaths, ad certify the same by his or her signature. The register must keep a book in which every instrument filed for record in his or her office is entered and an official seal. The register of deeds may appoint one or more deputies for whose acts the register will be responsible. The deputy may not be the county treasurer, sheriff, clerk or surveyor. If a register of deeds is not elected pursuant of section 32-518, the county clerk shall act as ex officio register of deeds. Section 23-1502.

COUNTY TREASURER: Section 23-1601 et seq. the treasurer receives all money belonging to the country and all money in which is directed to him or her by law. The treasurer must prepare and file the annual inventory statement of country personal property in his or her possession. The treasurer shall also invest bond money for cities and villages. Upon his/her discretion, the treasurer may appoint a deputy, who cannot be the country clerk, sheriff, register of deeds or surveyor.

SHERIFF: Section 23-1701 et seq. It is the duty of the sheriff to serve, execute and return writs or other legal process issued by a lawful authority. The sheriff shall prepare and file an annual inventory statement of country personal property in his or her custody. The sheriff has charge and custody of the jail and its prisoners, except in counties where a county board of corrections exists and has duties over the jail. It is the duty of the sheriff to keep the peace, apprehend criminals and perform other duties as peace officer. The sheriff may appoint deputies but such deputies may not be the county treasurer, clerk, register of deeds or surveyor.

CORONER (County Attorney): Section 23-1801 et seq. The coroner shall hold an inquest upon the dead bodies of such persons only as are supposed to have died by unlawful means. when the coroner has notice of the presence in the county of the body of a person supposed to have died by unlawful means, the coroner may , at his or her discretion, issue a warrant to a constable of the county requiring the constable to summon forthwith six residents of the county to appear before the coroner at a time and place named in the warrant. Each juror shall receive for each day employed in the discharge of his or her duty the sum of twenty dollars to be paid by certificate drawn by the coroner on the general funds of the county. When no coroner or in the coroner's absence, the sheriff may discharge the duties of coroner.

COUNTY SURVEYOR: Section 23-1901 et seq. It is the duty of the country surveyor to make or cause to be made all surveys in the country that he or she is called on to make and to record those surveys. In counties with populations of 50,000 persons, but less than 150,000 persons, the county surveyor shall be ex-officio country engineer. Section 32-525 (1996 - LB 1085) In counties having populations of 150,000 persons or more, a country engineer shall be elected. Section 32-526 (1996 - LB 1985) The Country engineer or ex-officio country engineer must among other things: prepare all plans, specifications, and drawings; make estimates of costs; inspect materials; inspect and supervise all work; and report to the board in regard to such materials and work. the county surveyor may appoint a deputy but such deputy may not be the country treasurer, sheriff, register of deeds or clerk.

ASSESSOR: Section 77-401 et seq. The country assessor has the duty to value all real and personal property in the country as a basis for the country board to levy taxes. The assessor must be certified by the Department of Revenue in order to hold office and annually attend a training session.

CLERK OF THE DISTRICT COURT: The clerk of the district court shall:
A. Issue writs and orders for provisional remedies and process of every kind. Section 25-2204
B. File and preserve all papers delivered to him or her. Section 25-2205
C. Endorse papers filed with him or her. Section 25-2206
D. Make entry of return of every summons served. Section 25-2207
E. Keep the records, books, and papers pertaining to the court, and record its proceedings. Section 25-2208
F. Keep an encumbrance book. Section 25-22122
G. Prepare and file the annual inventory statement of all country personal property in his or her custody or possession. Section 25-2214

DEPUTIES IN GENERAL: Any country official empowered by statute to appoint a deputy or deputies will be responsible for the acts of the appointee. These officials are the register of deeds, treasurer, sheriff, clerk and surveyor. The appointment shall be in writing and also revocable in writing by the appointing official. Deputies will take the same oath as the appointing official, and may be required to post bond.