Who We Are

Photo of Mark Ells

Mark Ells

Project Director

Assistant Research Professor
Center on Children, Families and the Law
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

BA, Iowa State University 1974
JD, cum laude Creighton University School of Law 1978

Mark Ells is the Project Director for the Midwest Child Welfare Implementation Center and is a Research Assistant Professor with the University of Nebraska’s Center on Children, Families and the Law. He is admitted to the bar in both Alaska and Nebraska. Mark has been a private practitioner, a magistrate, a prosecutor in Alaska and Nebraska and director of a national program focused on the investigation and prosecution of child abuse.

In his ten years as a prosecutor, Mark focused on child abuse. After serving as an Assistant District Attorney for five years, he was appointed District Attorney in Ketchikan, Alaska. He left Alaska in 1990 and returned to Nebraska (his native state and favorite place to live). Mark was one of the original three prosecutors in the Child Protection Division of the Nebraska Department of Justice. In 1992, he went to Alexandria, Virginia as a Senior Attorney with the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, formerly a project of the American Prosecutors Research Institute. The National Center (now based in the National Child Protection Training Center at Winona State University) provides training and technical assistance for professionals involved in the investigation and prosecution of child abuse, with an emphasis on the multidisciplinary team approach to such work. In 1994, Mark was named director of the National Center, and served in that capacity until returning to Nebraska in 1996. In his four years at the National Center, Mark spoke about the investigation and prosecution of child abuse to thousands of professionals across the United States and abroad.

Mark’s work at CCFL has included curriculum development and delivering training to child protection workers and juvenile parole officers in Nebraska. He was a member of the team providing the legal portions of new worker training for Protection and Safety Workers in Nebraska. He was also a member of the team that provides Nebraska’s only week-long, practicum-based training for forensic interviewing of children.

His work has also included providing support for the "LB 1184" interdisciplinary child abuse and neglect teams in Nebraska. This support included on-and off-site technical assistance to the teams, as well as training on issues of team formation and maintenance and issues surrounding the investigation and prosecution of child abuse. He was one of the trainers presenting Nebraska Supreme Court mandated training for guardians ad litem across the state in 2007.

In 2002, Mark completed a proposed total revision of Nebraska’s Juvenile Code, under the auspices of the Nebraska Court Improvement Project. The revision process included reviewing codes in other states, the literature regarding the effect of the law on child protection and juvenile justice, and assessing approaches and philosophies that appear to have positive results for the community, children and families. A law review article regarding the proposed code was published the summer of 2004 in the Nebraska Law Review. In 2006, Mark was an invited presenter at the Symposium Reassessing the Past, Present and Future Role of Children and their Participation and Protection in American Law sponsored by Hamline University School of Law’s Journal of Public Law and Policy. His presentation was entitled A Brief Analysis Of Some Elements Of a Proposed Model Juvenile Code.

In addition to his duties at CCFL, Mark has been a consultant for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP, Office of Justice Programs, United States Department of Justice). He was a member of the team that delivered a week long course named "Child Fatality Investigations (CFI)." As requested, Mark presented the prosecutor’s perspective as part of the week long course named "Child Abuse & Exploitation: Team Investigative Process (CAE: TIP)." Both courses emphasize a multidisciplinary approach to the investigation and prosecution of child abuse. Mark has also helped in the development of other courses delivered by OJJDP.

Work Products:

Through The Eyes of the Child Initiative Website (2007) THERE’S THE RUB: COURT-AGENCY FRICTION IN NEBRASKA

A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF SOME ELEMENTS OF A PROPOSED MODEL JUVENILE CODE, Mark Ells, 28 Hamline Journal of Public Law and Policy 1, 199-314 (2006)

UNRAVELING THE LABYRINTH: A PROPOSED REVISION OF THE NEBRASKA JUVENILE CODE, Mark Ells, Victoria Weisz, Robert O’Neal & Jennifer Connor, 82 Nebraska Law Review 4, 1126-1275 (2004)

APRI’s National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse UPDATE, Vol. 15, Number 2, Spring 2002 :"Behind the Drug: The Child Victims of Meth Labs," co-authored with Barbara Sturgis, Ph.D. and Gregg Wright, M.D.

OJJDP PORTABLE GUIDE SERIES, FORMING A MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM TO INVESTIGATE CHILD ABUSE (NCJ 170020), US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1998

The Use of Closed-Circuit Television and Videotaped Testimony in Child Sexual Abuse Trials: An Evaluation of BJA’s Funding Program, Sharon Elstein, Barbara Smith, Howard Davidson, Donald Rebovich, Kathy Free and Caren Sempel, co-authors, in LEGAL INTERVENTIONS IN FAMILY VIOLENCE: RESEARCH FINDINGS AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS, US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, (NCJ 171666) July 1998

Professional Activities & Community Service

  • Member, Nebraska Supreme Court Commission on Children in the Courts
  • Member, Nebraska Citizen Review Panel
  • Member, Governor’s Commission on the Protection of Children
  • Consultant, U.S. Dept. of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  • President, Board of Directors, Vanished Children's Alliance
  • Graduate, 2006 National Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigation Academy

In 2007, the Nebraska Network of Child Advocacy Centers gave Mark the Vision and Leadership Award.

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