Participants from the nation’s state courts attended a Summit on Pandemic Preparedness at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) May 22 – 24, 2019. The summit, hosted by Nebraska Chief Justice Michael Heavican, brought together chief justices and other court leaders, health officials, and members of the legislative and executive branches to discuss ways to address a pandemic outbreak.
Topics for the summit included legal issues that can emerge from a pandemic, such as quarantines. Small discussion groups were led through exercises designed to explore the problematic aspects of isolation and quarantine law, following presentations by the Center for Disease Control, medical researchers, and legal experts. Tours of the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit, National Quarantine Center, iExcel VizHub, and the Chihuly Sanctuary were included.
The goal of the summit is to ensure that all government agencies work together to effectively meet the needs of the public during a public health crisis. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) is provided technical assistance, including experts in the field and the State Justice Institute (SJI) awarded grant funding for this critical summit.
- Read/Listen to NPR interview with Judge Leigh Ann Retelsdorf: If a pandemic hits, Nebraska’s courts plan to protect legal system.
- Read the Omaha World Herald: Doc quarantined in Omaha after Ebola exposure on experience, need to care for people facing disease.
- Read Chief Justice Heavican’s remarks: Opening Remarks for the National Summit Omaha.
- Read Court Order in Kaci Hickox case (Maine nurse who challenged Ebola quarantine): Order of Charles LaVerdiere, Former Chief Judge of the Maine District Court: Maine HHS vs. Kaci Hickox.