LIBERTY — Liberty’s Court Administrator Janet Gustin, who hails from Kearney, retired in May after 35 years with the city. Gustin has worked with the city’s judge, Thomas Capps, for 30 out of those 35 years.
“It’s going to be hard to not come to Liberty,” she said, adding there are some parts of work she will not miss. “I won’t miss the people on the docket yelling at the judge or the fights in the hall. One time, we had court until 1 a.m. Another time, we had a tornado warning and everyone had to move to the basement which is the police station. That was really odd.”
The court administrator has worked with several prosecutors through the years, including current City Prosecutor Tom McGiffin. Gustin said she has enjoyed the fast-paced nature of the job and working with many attorneys through the years.
“It’s about pulling files and being a good multitasker,” she said. “We work with finance and collections in the city. There’s a runner to help out. It’s a rhythm that gets set up. Even I have a rhythm with the judge. Sometimes I’m able to start to fill out the forms for Judge Capps before he has made a ruling.”
In three decades as court administrator, she only missed a total of two court sessions. The city has had an average of two night and two day courts monthly in that time, amounting to more than 1,500 court sessions.
“We are in two Thursday evenings and two Friday mornings monthly,” she said. “We can have 300 people per court date. It’s been a lot of people through this court.”
Gustin called her work at Liberty City Hall a pleasure.
“The staff here treats you like family,” she said. “It’s a place where most people stay.
Capps said he has always been impressed with Gustin.
“ I know people are going to be hard-pressed to find someone as knowledgeable as Jan. She is a court administrator who understands her job inside and out,” he said.
Capps praised Gustin’s work at improving her skills through classes and other training.
“I’ve been the judge for 34 years,” he said. “She was young when she came to the court; things have changed and were much simpler. The court system has gotten more complicated.”
Capps brought up Senate Bill 5 that passed in 2015 which definitely made their jobs more difficult. SB 5 capped court revenue and lowered the limit across the state for how much money could be generated from traffic fines and fees to be included in their general revenue. The max is $225, The bill also sent one of the three court clerks to the federal level.
“Janet has risen to the job challenge,” he said. “Over these years, we have developed a friendship. I consider her a friend as well as her husband and two daughters. It has always been nice to be with Janet in court. I know it will get done right. We all take the job seriously. I applaud Jan’s future retirement.”
Gustin said she is ready for a new challenge and will be the administrative assistant at Hawthorn Elementary School.
“I believe it will keep me busy,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s been fun with the courts and the city has been great. I know the hardest part is letting go.”