Rossiter Unanimously Confirmed as U.S. District Court Judge
Judge Robert Rossiter Jr., JD’81, has long joked that when he came to the Creighton University School of Law in 1978, he made himself two promises.
“One, I was not going to stay in Omaha,” he said. “And two, I was not going to marry a fellow law student.”
Rossiter, who on June 27 was confirmed as Nebraska’s newest judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, has been in Omaha ever since his union with MaryBeth Frankman — also a 1981 alumna of the Creighton law school and an attorney with the Omaha law firm of Fitzgerald Schorr — has been going strong for 32 years and produced four successful children.
“I didn’t keep those promises,” Rossiter reflected. “And all I can say is that I’m very happy I did not.”
Growing up in Fort Wayne, Ind., and graduating from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., Rossiter figured his future lay in Indiana and beyond. After attaining an undergraduate degree in management, Rossiter was prepared to enroll in one of the Indiana law schools that had accepted him.
“But my dad, who grew up in Omaha and went to Creighton Prep (high school) suggested I give Creighton a look,” remembered Rossiter. “I visited Creighton with my dad and I liked the idea of being somewhere other than Indiana for those three years. That was Creighton’s main draw, at first. But then I found I loved the law school, and its faculty. I made a lot of great friendships and I came to really love Omaha. I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of law school until about halfway through undergrad. Even with a father and a grandfather who were lawyers, I didn’t feel an overwhelming pull to the law. But the more I thought about it, I was convinced that law school was the right path.”
Upon graduation from Creighton, Rossiter was hired into a clerkship with then-U.S. District Judge C. Arlen Beam. In that capacity, the young lawyer began to envision a path forward that would one day put him on that very same bench.
“Being a judge is something to which I’ve aspired since my clerkship with Judge Beam,” Rossiter said. “Clerking gave me an opportunity to see the inner-workings of the court but also a chance to see, without any real pressure, the good habits and bad habits of the practitioners who were coming before the court. Those lessons served me well as a practitioner. Judge Beam was new to the court at that time, so it was also a unique way to see how he went about deciding how to organize his chambers and hire staff, and how he went about shaping his process of deciding matters. It was a great position to have, and I will always be thankful that I had that opportunity.”
Following the clerkship, Rossiter returned to a position with the Omaha firm of Fraser Stryker, where he practiced labor and employment law for 33 years. Rossiter is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and, until his appointment to the federal bench, was the president-elect of the Nebraska State Bar Association. He also taught as an adjunct professor at his alma mater, instructing on labor law and legal research.
He continued to maintain an eye on the bench over the years. Rossiter first The full U.S. Senate voted 90-0 to confirm the nomination of Robert Rossiter, JD’81, as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska.
This time around, with backing from Nebraska’s Senate delegation, Sen. Mike Johanns and Sen. Deb Fischer and later Sen. Ben Sasse, Rossiter became President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Creighton alumnus Judge Joseph Bataillon, BA’71, JD’74, who took senior status in October 2014. In September 2015, Rossiter’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee was held and two weeks later he was voted out of committee on a voice vote. On June 27, the full Senate voted 90-0 to confirm the nomination.
“While I enjoy being involved in community service and service to the bar, this position gives me the unique opportunity to do both, as well as to serve my country,” Rossiter said. “It’s a way to give back at this point in my career. I consider myself very lucky to have had the career I’ve had. From Creighton to Judge Beam, to Fraser Stryker to this position, I have been very blessed and I’m lucky and thankful to have had the professional opportunities that have been presented to me.”