Article Image Alt Text Brooke Robertson | Johnson Publications

Judge Donald E. Rowlands II sits on the Perkins County District Court bench for the last time as a full-time judge on Tuesday, July 24.

State’s longest serving district court judge retires

Judge Donald E. Rowlands II served his last day as a full-time judge in Perkins County District Court on Tuesday, July 24. 

After 32 years as judge of the 11th Judicial District, he retired on July 31, making him Nebraska’s longest serving district court judge.  

In addition to Perkins, the 11th district includes Arthur, Chase, Dawson, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas, Gosper, Hayes, Hitchcock, Hooker, Keith, Lincoln, Logan, McPherson, Red Willow and Thomas Counties.

After receiving his Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1974, Rowlands practiced law in private practice for 12 years. 

On April 25, 1986, he began his 32-year judgeship. 

A press release from the Nebraska Judicial Branch stated that as an early adopter of pilot rules allowing cameras in Nebraska courtrooms, Rowlands worked with fellow judges, news media and the legal community to establish a higher level of transparency for viewers of television news. Cameras were allowed in the district court in North Platte in 2009, eight years before cameras were invited into all state courtrooms.

Rowlands was named the Nebraska Supreme Court Outstanding Judge for service to the community in 2000. This is the highest honor given by the Chief Justice to recognize members of the judiciary for meritorious projects and exemplary accomplishments that enhance the vision of justice within Nebraska communities.

He is also a Nebraska State Bar Foundation Fellow, which is based on the integrity and character of a judge. Fellows are accredited by colleagues as leaders of the legal profession who contribute to charitable works and community education. Membership recognizes established legal professionals dedicated to improving the administration of justice.

Rowlands thanked the clerks of the district court, their staff, his court reporter and his bailiff since 1988, Patty Wonch, for their dedicated assistance and service.

Perkins County Clerk Rita Long said she has enjoyed working with Rowlands over the past 11.5 years, and he will be missed.

Rowlands would have been up for re-election in 2020. The Judicial Resources Commission will call a meeting to determine whether or not, based on judicial workload statistics, his retirement creates a judicial vacancy on the District Court for the 11th Judicial District. 

The Grant Tribune-Sentinel

308-352-4311 (Phone)
308-352-4101 (Fax)

PO Box 67
327 Central Ave in Grant
Grant NE 69140