Mike Hilgers

Nebraska Attorney General

Attorney General Mike Hilgers' February Column: Advocating for Justice for Crime Victims

One of the most important responsibilities of the Attorney General is public safety. Our criminal bureau, which is responsible for investigating criminal activity, prosecuting crimes, and handling criminal appeals, is the largest in our office. Among the outstanding professionals in the criminal bureau are four members who work very closely with victims and their families.

Each of these individuals fills a different role in our office. The four roles are the Victim and Witness Advocate, the State Forensic Nursing Coordinator, the Domestic Abuse Death Review Team Coordinator, and the Liaison for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons.

Our Victim and Witness Advocate, Macy Meyer, works directly with victims and their families as a guide through the criminal proceedings. She explains complex legal processes in order to prepare victims and witnesses to testify at trial. She connects vulnerable Nebraskans to important resources and works alongside child advocacy centers. In particular, our Advocate is a champion for children who are tragically involved as witnesses in criminal legal proceedings. Having an individual who can focus on victims in these proceedings is invaluable.

Our State Forensic Nurse Coordinator, Annie Boatright, connects sexual assault victims with law enforcement and resources. Because our Coordinator is a forensic nurse, she frequently testifies as an expert witness in criminal trials. She has played a large role in standardizing sexual assault examination kits for victims of sexual abuse in Nebraska. Our office has also prioritized access to sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) across rural Nebraska and ensures that victims of sexual assault crimes do not get billed for medical services they need.

The Attorney General’s Office also coordinates and appoints members to the Domestic Abuse Death Review Team. This team reviews homicide and suicide deaths that result from domestic violence. The Domestic Abuse Death Review Team Coordinator, Amy Cirian, gathers information from the family and friends of both the victim and the perpetrator to illuminate trends in domestic violence deaths. This multi-faceted team, including law enforcement, nurses, advocates, and mental health providers, reviews the information. The goal of this team is to recommend services and suggest legislation intended to prevent future deaths.

Finally, the newest position in our criminal bureau, helmed by Grace Johnson, is a Liaison for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons. This position was created by the Legislature in 2023, and we are thankful for the leadership of Senator Jane Raybould and Senator Anna Wishart for championing and funding this role. When there is a missing, murdered, or trafficked indigenous person, the Liaison immediately reaches out to their family. Grace often connects indigenous families of missing, murdered, or trafficked loved ones with state law enforcement, who can help solve the case. The Liaison builds relationships between the Attorney General’s Office and tribal leadership by offering DOJ guidance on how to develop community responses for missing or murdered persons on reservations.

In the 100 days since our liaison position was established, our office has been involved in eight missing persons cases, and six of those missing persons have been found.

The Attorney General’s Office cares deeply about victims of crime. We are honored to be a trusted resource to fight for victims across the state. I am thankful to the Legislature for its role in vesting the Attorney General’s Office with such impactful tools to advocate for justice for crime victims.