The day it ended

He went to Creighton Law school and practiced law in Grand Island, Nebraska. He did what general practice lawyers do. That’s everything. A little of this and a little of that. Divorces? Certainly.

The lawyer had three boys and a wife of 22 years. He liked to watch his kids play sports. He served on the school board. By all accounts, he was a good guy.

I assume he intended to go home. On Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, the lawyer walked out of his office at about 6:30 PM. Ironically, in the building where the lawyer and his partners kept their offices a local FBI agent kept his digs as well. That G-man would be of no help.

The lawyer took a few steps. He was standing next to a red Chevrolet Avalanche. A former client, several years removed, is alleged to have shot the lawyer twice from across the street using a rifle. After they rushed him to the hospital, they found a plastic bottle of cola, glasses and an accordion file on the ground.

Twenty-five years and a few weeks earlier, the lawyer became a member of the bar. At 52-years of age, the lawyer died that day at St. Francis Medical Center. Center mass torso shooting, particularly with a rifle, is deadly.

Over 900 people showed up for his funeral at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. According to a local TV station, the “funeral attracted everyone from lawyers and judges to members of the Grand Island School Board to River Dawg baseball players.”

I didn’t know Todd Elsbernd. But, I won’t forget him.


Todd V. Elsbernd

Todd V. Elsbernd

7 responses

  1. The emotions engendered in clients by the personal crises addressed by family law, particularly those surrounding divorce, seem to be the gravest source of personal danger to lawyers. Representing criminal defendants, as I have in a wide range of cases from violent crimes to major white collar schemes, can’t hold a candle to what family lawyers seem to deal with.

  2. pdgpa,

    So true. And the really scary thing is that the misplaced hatred, even for your own lawyer, never seems to end for some, but randomly threatens to erupt in violence at unexpected times. Bankruptcy lawyers, particularly the ones who take farm failure cases, face similar unpredictable risks.

    All the best.


  3. “Dear SOLACE members:

    As many of you I’m sure are already aware, attorney Todd Elsbernd, 52, was shot and killed outside his law office in Grand Island, NE on Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

    Todd was a 1988 graduate of Creighton Law School. Earlier this year he celebrated his 25th anniversary with the NSBA. He is survived by his wife, Jeanie, and three kids, ages 13, 16 and 21.

    A memorial fund has been set up in his memory at the Five Points Bank, PO Box 1507, Grand Island, NE 68802 to cover both short term financial needs of the family as well as college needs of the kids.

    SOLACE Request:

    If you wish to contribute to his memorial or offer any other assistance you deem appropriate you may do so through the following SOLACE contact:

    Jamie Mues Jankovitz
    Bradley Law Offices
    PO Box 639
    Grand Island, NE 68802
    308.3822128 (w)

    Checks can be made payable to the “Todd Elsbernd Memorial”.

    Thank you for all you do.

    Michael F. Kinney
    Cassem Tierney Law Office
    9290 W. Dodge Rd., Ste. # 302
    Omaha, NE 68114
    402.390.0300 (w); 402.390.9676 (fax)

  4. This tragedy is the kind of event that we should all be aware of and appreciate the difficult job some judges and attorneys face. This blog serves the public interest when it honors such an attorney. My sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Elsbernd. Elaine Mittleman

  5. You have written a great tribute to Todd. It is surprising that you did it so well without actually knowing him. I stumbled on your blog while re-reading the many articles about him. Todd was a good friend to my husband, they spent weekends bird hunting together. He used to joke that doctors and lawyers can’t be friends, but since I, a doc, am married to a hunter, then it was acceptable! This community is stronger because of Todd’s influence, and so much of it was outside of courtrooms and offices. Thank you for the chance to comment

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