Former Nebraska Supreme Court judge is pulled off Sarpy County case because of potential conflict of interest

Former Nebraska Supreme Court judge is pulled off Sarpy County case because of potential conflict of interest
Max Kelch

The former Nebraska Supreme Court judge who resigned after a history of making sexual comments no longer will help Sarpy County defend a lawsuit.

Max Kelch was to be paid up to $32,500 in taxpayer money to help civil attorneys with a lawsuit against the county involving a low-income housing developer.

Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov, who hired Kelch, said Wednesday that he had decided otherwise because he thinks other attorneys may say Kelch has a potential conflict of interest.

Kelch served as a Sarpy County judge when the suit was filed, but was not assigned the case and did no work on it.

“He never touched the case, his name was never on the case,” Polikov said. “I don’t see it as a conflict.”

Polikov had considered requesting an opinion on the matter from the Nebraska Supreme Court Counsel for Discipline, but he said a response would take six months and he couldn’t delay the case further.

“I can’t wait that long,” Polikov said. “I think we’re doing what we’re ethically needing to do.”

In a World-Herald article about Kelch’s work for the county, Polikov said that he had no qualms about hiring Kelch or bringing him to the courthouse where Kelch made some sexual comments.

Kelch abruptly resigned from the high court in February, and sources have told The World-Herald that he was known for making sexual comments to courtroom staff and attorneys.

Polikov said he didn’t receive any complaints or concerns about hiring Kelch. Kelch had just started looking over the civil case but had not yet been paid.

Polikov declined to say whether he would hire Kelch to help in future cases.

“I’m not interested in discussing this anymore,” he said. “My comment is that he’s not handling the case because we were worried that it was an apparent conflict.”

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