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Monday, July 25, 2016

Juvenile law a passion for county's new attorney

Friday, November 27, 2009

(Photo by Russ Mitchell) Kristi Busse joined the Zenor and Houchins law firm as an associate on Oct. 19. Working with Michael Houchins, she'll also handle prosecutions as an assistant Clay County Attorney. She succeeds Charles Borth at the law firm. Borth was appointed a district associate judge in October. [Order this photo]
Clay County's newest assistant county attorney is no stranger to the city of Spencer, but she's seeing a different part of the law these days.

Kristi Busse is a month into her newest role as an assistant Clay County Attorney and associate at the Zenor and Houchins law firm in north Spencer.

While some counties have a full-time attorney exclusive to county work and prosecutions, the system in Clay County allows its prosecutors to maintain a private practice part time.

"Right now, it's a little off-balance," Busse said. "I'm doing mostly criminal work right now -- just trying to get acquainted with all of that."

That includes work in the juvenile court system, which is an area Busse wanted to focus on after she finished law school at the University of Nebraska.

"There are some kids who can be rehabilitated -- adults too -- but more so with the juveniles," she explained. "They have a better chance to turn their lives around."

She completed her undergraduate work at Buena Vista University in 2004, with a degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology.

She spent just over a year as a law clerk for judges in the Third Judicial District at the Clay County Courthouse. With the move to Zenor and Houchins, she succeeds Charles Borth, who was sworn in as district associate judge on Oct. 2.

Her first day was Oct. 19.

"She's doing very good," Clay County Attorney Michael Houchins said. "Right now we're working on getting her up to speed on handling matters within the county attorney's office, getting her involved in juvenile court and getting her involved on the criminal side. She's also been involved in some of our mental health and substance abuse commitments."

Busse said she is finding county work "a lot more active," than the time she spent researching and drafting opinions or rulings for the judges. As a clerk, her interaction was mostly with the judges. As an assistant prosecutor and law firm associate, she'll be able to see more clients and defendants.

"I do like to have a variety here, so that's why it's nice to get to have a private practice in addition to the criminal," Busse said. "I also like to do family law and things like that."

She could be in position to try the rare case in front of a jury at the start of December.

"I think it has helped a lot in being able to transition into this job," Busse said of her time at the courthouse. "Being familiar with the judges and having met some of the attorneys in the area and just seeing how things run around here, it helps a lot."

Busse grew up in Norfolk, Neb., and is a 2000 graduate of the school system there.

"I think she's a self-starter," Houchins said. "She doesn't wait for you to tell her to do things and seems real eager to do the work. The other thing, in our office, not only on the private side but as a county attorney we deal with a lot of police officers and a lot of workers from the Department of Human Services. The reports I'm getting back is that they enjoy working with her."

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