January 25th, 2022
Lincoln, NE – Joe Nigro today filed to seek re-election to the office of Lancaster County Public Defender. Nigro was first elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2018.
Under Nigro’s leadership, the Lancaster County Public Defender’s office has saved taxpayer money by adding social workers to better serve clients with mental health and substance abuse issues, advocated for problem solving courts that reduce recidivism and increase rehabilitation, and worked with the Nebraska Legislature on criminal justice reform.
Nigro stated, “By protecting the rights of those who cannot afford to hire an attorney, we are protecting all of us. My priorities are working to end mass incarceration, fighting to end racism in the criminal justice system, and reducing the number of people with mental health issues in the system.”
Nigro has worked in the Lancaster County Public Defender’s Office as an attorney for 38 years, successfully representing thousands of people. He served on the Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorneys Association board and currently serves as a member of the House of Delegates for the Nebraska Bar Association. Nigro also serves on the Supreme Court Problem Solving Court Committee, the Supreme Court Committee on Practice and Procedure, the Justice Behavioral Health Committee, and the Lancaster County Justice Council. Nigro chaired the Supreme Court Mental Health Court Committee.
Former Lincoln Mayor Don Wesely stated of Nigro, “There is no one better suited to lead the office of Lancaster Public Defender than Joe Nigro. Joe spent decades in the courtroom defending the rights of individuals and protecting the safety of our community. Joe’s skills in advocacy go from the courthouse to the statehouse, where he has contributed to significant reforms in the criminal justice system. Our citizens and our community all benefit from Joe’s service.”
Nigro has served the community in a variety of ways. He was chair of the Lincoln Cable TV Advisory Board, chair of the UNL College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Board, and was a board member of the UNL Alumni Association and the Bridge Board of Directors. Nigro chaired the Christ United Methodist Church Advisory Committee for ten years, served on the Christ United Methodist Church Board of Trustees, and currently serves on the Christ United Methodist Church Foundation Board. Nigro was also the Mayor’s Liaison to the Lincoln Public Schools and was a member of the LPS Curriculum Council. He was president of the Lincoln East Parent Advisory Committee and coached youth soccer, basketball, and football for 12 years.
Nigro is endorsed by Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird; former U.S. Senator Ben Nelson; former Lt. Governor Kim Robak and Bill Mueller; former Lincoln Mayors Chris Beutler and Don Wesely; former Lancaster County Public Defender Dennis Keefe; State Senator Matt Hansen; State Senator Patty Pansing Brooks and Loel Brooks; Lancaster County Commissioners Christa Yoakum, Sean Flowerday, and Rick Vest; Lincoln City Councilors Tammy Ward, Jane Raybould, Sändra Washington, Bennie Shobe, Tom Beckius, and James Michael Bowers, Lancaster County Treasurer Rachel Garver; Lancaster County Clerk Dan Nolte; Lower Platte South NRD Director John Yoakum; Southeast Community College Board of Governors Member Jim Garver; former Police Captain Joy Citta, former Nebraska Democratic Party State Chair Vince Powers; and former Lancaster County Democratic Party Chair Janet Chung.
Nigro holds a J.D. and B.A., both from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has been married to his wife, Shari Nigro, since 1985, and they have three adult children, Margaret (Kyle), Betsy (Tanner), and Nick, and three grandchildren, Teddy, Imogen, and Eloise. They lost one grandchild, Jude.
A message from Joe…
When I was first elected 8 years ago, I vowed to continue the tradition of our office providing the highest quality legal representation while accomplishing the following:
1) Adding a social worker to serve our many clients with mental health and substance abuse issues.
2) Working to establish a mental health court to reduce the number of people with mental health issues caught up in the criminal justice system.
3) Participating in criminal justice reform efforts.
I believe this and more has been achieved, and I hope to serve a second term to continue the strong path of leadership and results our office has delivered to the people of Lancaster County.
As I look toward the next four years, my goals are:
1.) To maintain the high quality of legal representation by the public defender’s office while ending the criminalization of poverty.
2.) Work to end the money bond system reducing the number of people with mental health issues in the criminal justice system by completing their work to establish mental health courts.
3.) Advocate for an increase of mental health services in our state and community.
4.) End the failed War on Drugs by working to start treating addiction as a health problem, not a criminal one.
I believe accomplishing these goals will ultimately reduce crime, treat people more humanely, increase safety, and save the taxpayers money. Our office will continue to defend the rights of our clients, protecting all of us. I hope the people of Lancaster County will endorse these efforts and vote for me.
Here is the Lincoln Journal Star article for those interested:
I am honored to be your Public Defender and to continue the great history of providing effective legal representation at a low cost to taxpayers.
After more than 34 years of serving in the Public Defender’s office, I have gained the experience, leadership, and relationships necessary to continue the excellent service that has been provided to the people of Lancaster County.
I will work to protect our rights and our pocketbooks.