Chief Judge Laurie Smith Camp on the nomination of Bob Rossiter

525e242d9beea.preview-620Here following is the press release issued by Laurie Smith Camp, our wonderful Chief Judge, regarding the nomination of Bob Rossiter. You might find some things in the press release that you didn’t know.

It also represents one sincere attempt out of many others on the part of our Chief Judge to engage, where appropriate, with the other branches of the federal government. Take it from a former Chief Judge, such diplomacy is much harder than it might seem, particularly when it comes to judicial nominations to one’s court. Unlike yours truly, and in addition to her many other strengths, Laurie is a diplomat of the first rank.

United States District Court, District of Nebraska

Roman L. Hruska U.S. Courthouse 111 South 18th Plaza, Suite 3210

Omaha, Nebraska 68102-1322

LAURIE SMITH CAMP                                                                                                                                                           Phone: (402) 661-7323

Chief United States District Judge                                                                                                                                              FAX: (402) 661-7326

June 11, 2015



The judges of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska thank President Obama, Senator Deb Fischer, Senator Ben Sasse, and former Senator Mike Johanns for their diligent efforts to select a highly qualified candidate to fill the vacancy on Nebraska’s federal district court.

Bob Rossiter is a lawyer of the highest caliber. He is respected throughout Nebraska’s legal community for his intelligence, skill, temperament, and commitment to justice. His distinguished career in trial practice, and his long history of public service, will make him an outstanding addition to Nebraska’s federal bench.

Nebraska is among eight states having a single federal district and only three authorized judgeships. In this group, Nebraska has by far the heaviest docket. For the 12-month period ending September 30, 2014, Nebraska ranked first among these districts in its per-judgeship weighted filings, felony caseload, and supervised release hearings. The prompt confirmation of Nebraska’s newest federal district judge will be essential to ensure that federal litigation in Nebraska is adjudicated promptly and efficiently.

We look forward to welcoming our newest colleague to the federal bench.

Laurie Smith Camp Chief Judge

U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska



26 responses

  1. The second paragraph of our Chief Judge’s press release about Bob Rossiter is absolutely true, correct, and “right on.”

    That words of that same paragraph would apply equally to our Chief Judge.

  2. Good news for the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska and its hard-working judges. The addition of such an experienced and respected attorney to your Court will benefit all participants in the judicial system.

  3. Thank you, Jim. (I love Sally’s descendants almost as much as I loved Sally!)

  4. Guess I don’t really get the “hard work”part. I’m sure there would be a hundred candidates who could serve with distinction. And as for the “diplomacy” part, if judges weren’t so partisan or so free to impose their views upon the law, any one of those hundred candidates would serve just as well.

    Does Nebraska need a fourth judgeship? Or will Bob Rossiter follow Judge Bennett’s lead, and clear his docket by abusing summary judgment?

    This is why we are saddled with such mediocrity on our appellate courts. You can’t kick a Posner, a Kozinski, or an Arnold “upstairs.” You need reliable partisans like Alito. At the district court level, you can tolerate competence, but not anywhere else.

  5. LawDog, The current rules on summary judgment are not the ones I learned in law school, but the changes came from SCOTUS, which sent the message about more and easier to win summary judgments. Where is the abuse in District Judges following the guidance from on high?
    Of course there other equally able lawyers who were not considered, but so what?That has always been true and always will be true. Bob should make a fine judge.

  6. Would it be interstate gambling by wire for an over-under on the confirmation vote?

    I say under 12 nays and Al Franken is one of the select dozen Democrat dolts. A Gopher thing.

  7. Anon.,

    Gambling is illegal! I am shocked, just shocked that you would even consider such a wager.

    Furthermore, Al Franken is too large to be a gopher.

    All the best.


  8. Hey LawDog, please explain generally how I abuse the docket with summary judgment? Plaintiffs think I grant to many and defense not enough. Sounds just right to me. 😃. Go ahead and take more shots at me, you can hide behind your LawDog name 😃😃😃

  9. Not LawDog, but I can’t resist. Hope you don’t mind if I borrow your nickname, Judge Bennett.

    It is one thing for you judges to not read briefs and even complaints, but to not even read your own law review articles???

    “The federal reporters are filled with hundreds—if not thousands—of employment discrimination cases where, despite the fact that these principles were the existing law of the circuit, courts swiftly granted summary judgment. Early in my career as a district court judge, I was guilty of this, too.” …

    “[I]n in my haste to have a current docket, I was way too aggressive and overused summary judgment. Unfortunately, not one of those decisions was overturned on appeal.” Mark W. Bennett, Essay: From the ‘No Spittin’, No Cussin’ and No Summary Judgment’ Days of Employment Discrimination Litigation to the ‘Defendant’s Summary Judgment Affirmed Without Comment’ Days: One Judge’s Four-Decade Perspective, 57 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 685, 688 & fn. 11 (2012-13) (emphasis added).

    I know how you feel, Judge Bennett. I’ve been libeled by judges. But in this case, the gentleman (or lady) has a point. Eighteen people got screwed, and it was “not something you are proud of.” To you, getting rid of them was a matter of convenience. To them, it’s their goddamned life.

    And unlike the “smurfs” you send up the river, you didn’t even offer them an apology.

  10. Admissions against interest. Since you openly admitted your guilt only three years ago, Judge Bennett, you look silly even trying to disown it now.

  11. Read his law review article. Judge Bennett has admitted that everyone on the bench was defying precedent in abusing summary judgment, himself included. He was guilty of denying citizens their day in court, and he said as much. When you put it in a law review article, you can’t take it back.

  12. Touche— hey there is a difference between writing a law review article and remembering what you wrote 🙂 Seriously, if I had actually committed error on those SJ rulings I am sure the Circuit would have corrected it. So I was perhaps being too hard on myself – if I had screwed the folks as you claim how come the Circuit did not reverse one of them? I am just saying my summary judgment thoughts have evolved and I let cases go to trial that other judges would not. As I have written — I would abolish SJ. I am not trying to disavow what I wrote but I was writing about SJ motions over 20 years ago not over the last 20 years. You can live in your dream world that I am the only judge in the country that for a brief period of time overused summary judgment. At least I was honest enough to admit it. For twenty years I have allowed close cases to go to trial where I would have been well within my discretion to grant the motion. Not one has won. But I still let close cases go because we are not well suited to determining what a reasonable jury would do.

  13. The part about how the judiciary needs to double in size, at a minimum, to deliver the high-quality services we have a right to expect. In Magna Carta, the King of England declared that his administration would not “sell, or deny, or delay right or justice to anyone.” Our courts ration justice, as Judge Bennett argued admirably in his articles, and the little people are on the short end of that stick. Drug cases are overwhelming the courts, and if you are too busy to read briefs in civil rights and employment cases, the finer points of the law are lost.

    That is a conversation that needs to be had.

  14. You know the answer as well as I. When appeals are decided at the rate of 25 per hour in the Eighth Circuit (per Richard Arnold), errors like those aren’t going to be corrected on appeal, especially when appellate judges are also looking to avoid doing the hard part of their job. This has been going on forever, as you also admitted, and denies the average citizen the right of access to the courts. Judge Arnold said so, and he was absolutely right.

    How many lives have been sacrificed on the altar of judicial convenience?

    You said it. I wouldn’t have called you out if I didn’t know for certain that you did. I am shocked and disappointed that you didn’t own your own statements. You sound like one of the good guys, and they are few and far between on our federal benches. And if you felt “guilty,” you probably were.

    I’m not suggesting that you are the only one. I’m suggesting that you are ALL doing it, and that you are TRAINED to do it (per Nancy Gertner). Summary judgment is unconstitutional (ask Suja Thomas), but when is the last time the Constitution stayed a self-interested judge’s hand? If ever? Iqbal and Twombley are just two examples of the judiciary rewriting the Constitution for its benefit.

    Let’s be honest: The Constitution isn’t worth the goddamned parchment it is printed on any more. Precedent means nothing to judges (except as an excuse), as you have also admitted. That’s what needs to be said, and you are in a position to say it. I’m just sorry that I have to be the messenger.

  15. LawDog, I appreciate your views, I really do. And isn’t it terrific that Judge Kopf provides this forum for expression of various views. I have certainly made my share of mistakes. Virtually all federal judges I know, including all the ones I work with in Iowa and the ones in Nebraska work extremely hard to do the right thing. We may not agree with every results but I don’t question the utmost goof faith of these hard working public servants. I am sorry you don’t see it that way but respect your contrary views. All the best.

  16. Judge Bennett,

    While I won’t attempt to speak for LD, when academicians and even your learned colleagues tell us that you aren’t dealing from the top of the deck, how can we impute even a scintilla of good faith to judges who admit that they are too lazy to even read our briefs? I’ve seen too much (granted, Florida IS cray-cray!) to believe in the basic honesty of judges any more. You will get routine criminal cases right, but I’d put more faith in IBM’s Watson. The proof is in the pudding, and it is unfit for human consumption.

    I took the time to read your law review article. YOU say that your colleagues were openly ignoring CA8 precedent. If those decisions are “binding,” by what authority did they act?

    Should I believe Mark Bennett … or Mark Bennett?

  17. Judge Bennett,

    “Utmost good faith” in federal judges? I’m sure you get routine drug cases as right as you can, but when it matters, federal judges can be counted on to be dishonest.

    To dredge up ancient history, a gentleman was banned by Judge Kopf because he complained too stridently about his experience. I’m going from memory, but it went something like this:

    Plaintiff sued Judges A-G in a bar admission dispute on a negligent supervision theory in federal court, raising a facial challenge to the statute. The judge in the case was taking bribes to support his expensive SEXtracurricular activities, and in an apparent favor to a colleague (the latter claim was clearly outside of Rooker-Feldman), threw the entire case out. And even though the judge’s decision was clearly wrong, it was affirmed, as all pro se appeals are, regardless of the merits.

    Plaintiff filed a pendent claim in state court. Even though state courts were courts of general jurisdiction, the trial court invented a state-law Rooker-Feldman doctrine to throw out the case. It was appealed, under a statute that specifically stated that the state court of appeals had jurisdiction. The appellate court gave it to the state supreme court in defiance of the statute, and even though state statute authorized judges of the CoA to sit in their stead, Judges B-G (one retired) decided the appeal, with entirely predictable results. No judge is ever going to issue a ruling that could cost him his house. As the judges did not have jurisdiction under state law, the decision was void as a matter of law.

    SCOTUS denied his petition for cert, despite the obvious procedural due process violation. SCOTUS doesn’t do error-correction.

    Plaintiff went into federal court, alleging that his absolute right to procedural due process had been violated. The district judge, who was a personal friend of both Judges B and C, and previously recused herself where there was less of a conflict, decided in favor of her friends. Imagine! A decision that was void as a matter of state law was, in the (purportedly, “good faith”) opinion of this corrupt and conflicted federal judge, a “final state-court decision” for purposes of Rooker-Feldman, which SCOTUS had put to death a few years beforehand.

    Of course, the court of appeals affirmed, because that is how our corrupt federal judiciary rolls. And Scalia was too busy writing books to do his job.

    Judge Kopf can correct me on the details, but he wouldn’t say what happened was wrong, as he won’t criticize any federal judge who is not on SCOTUS. He was pressed on this, to no avail. Omerta.

    How can anyone conclude that you judges act in good faith, when your colleagues participate in something like that, and none of you have the courage to say that it is wrong? You are like Catholic priests, more concerned about the reputation of your institution than about ensuring that it has a reputation worth having.

  18. Not quite following the logic here. Assuming the truth of what you wrote that makes all judges corrupt and lacking good faith? I didn’t write all judges everywhere act in good faith 100% of the time. I thought I wrote the federal trial judges in Iowa and Nebraska act in good faith even when you or I or anyone else may disagree with a specific opinion. Anyway I wish judge in waiting Rossiter all the best, and hope he never meets me or any of his colleagues so he won’t be tainted by the only thing we do and know :, our corruption and bad faith.😃 Yikes.

  19. I am having a hard time understanding the venom and distrust of the federal judiciary. I get that you may dislike a certain judge or various rulings you disagree with from any particular judge. But I am reading much more than that here. I practiced before more than 50 federal district court judges in my lawyer career spanning from Calif. to NY. I won most, lost some and appealed rulings I thought were wrong when the client wanted to appeal, won some appeals lost some appeals. I have sat on nearly 100 appeals by designation on both the 8th & more recently the 9th Circuit. I only ran across one judge who disliked my client (Rev. Moon and the Unification church and made no bones about disliking me, too.) I successfully appealed his ruling of his to the 10th Cir which reversed on the briefs. When back before the original judge and he gave full relief to my client. Never once did it even cross my mind that he was acting in bad faith. I was convinced, while erroneous, he thought he was doing the right thing. that is true of every judge I appeared before and have reviewed the record of while sitting by designation. I have voted to reverse several but never once did I think the judge acted in anything other than good faith. That is true of the federal judiciary in general in my experience. I am sure there may well be an exception but this general conspiracy theory that we are mostly acting in bad faith seems odd.

  20. I’ll answer that with this question: Where else but in America can a judge sit in judgment of his own cause? That might even offend Zimbabwean jurisprudence.

    Both the Framers and their English ancestors had a healthy distrust of the judiciary. That’s why we have the jury trial, where in theory (I’m sure you NEVER give this constitutionally-proper instruction), juries have lawful power to decide both the facts and the law. The Seventh Amendment was to “guard agst. corrupt judges,” as two Framers have said. Power corrupts, and a fair reading of American jurisprudence would lead one to conclude that Thomas Jefferson’s fear that judges would usurp power no sane person would ever willingly grant has been validated.

    You judges tell us HOW you judges cheat. You fabricate facts. You take indecent liberties with the law. And your best and brightest (Kozinski and Posner come to mind) are the ones turning state’s evidence. You are trained to get rid of pro se civil rights cases. You invent doctrines like summary judgment so that you can ration justice, and use them far too aggressively. Rooker-Feldman was, in Justice Stevens’s view, a relentless torrent of mischief, and an examination of the case law shows how egregiously it was abused. You ignore Eighth Circuit precedent when it is inconvenient (and you admitted that your colleagues did it on an industrial scale). Appellate review is a cruel and pointless farce for all but the wealthy and well-connected. You don’t bother reading briefs. You don’t even read the opinions you deliver, as in some appellate courts, you are little more than pizza delivery-boys. You constitutionalize your personal preferences. These are all admissions against interest, made by you and those in privity with you. What ARE we to think, Judge Bennett?

    All you have to do is look around. In politically-charged cases, all you need to do is ask who put the judge onto the bench to know how it came out with over 90+% certainty, and Democrat-dominated panels invariably disagree with Republican-dominated ones. Ours is no longer a judiciary, but a proxy for the two factions.

    Of course, you don’t cheat in every single case. But if jetliners crashed with as much regularity, no one in his right mind would ever fly. Just as a high level of arsenic makes water unpotable, an unacceptably high level of judicial corruption makes our legal system unreliable. Judicial immunity? Sovereign immunity? They are foreign to the rest of the civilized world (and even Iran!), but our judges like power without accountability, and won’t yield to reason because they don’t have to.

    If you’ve never seen a case like the one BinB relates, you may be unique. Every other seasoned practitioner I know can tell at least one tale like that. But BinB’s question is a fair one. The system has redundancies to prevent a case like that from happening, but it is at the mercy of lazy, corrupt, and unaccountable judges, and it failed. How can we trust you when YOU JUDGES keep telling us you are unworthy of our trust?

  21. If you don’t mind my interjecting, Judge Bennett, part of the problem might be definitional. It might be more accurately said that you are corrupted by your self-interest.

    A great example is how you got this nickname. Your desire to get your docket current overwhelmed your desire to do justice, so you terminated eighteen cases. You knew it was wrong, as you said yourself, and you felt guilty. Your words, not mine.

    Those decisions were corrupt decisions, in the broad sense of the word. All of us are corruptible, in that sense. It takes strong character to combat that urge, and we don’t always succeed. Me included. 🙂

    The fact remains that eighteen of our fellow citizens counted on you to apply the law in a fair and equable manner. By your own assessment, you did fail. And the system is supposed to prevent you from failing, but it failed.

    If it failed for them, it might fail for me. In a matter as important as our rights under law, wouldn’t you be nervous?

    I certainly wish Judge Rossiter all the best, and pray that he learns from your experience. I hope that you share it with him, and ensure that he not receive the training Judge Gertner related here. Either we are equal before the law, or we are not.

  22. Dear Cardozo,

    It’s uplifting to note we do not “cheat’ in every case. Do you find elected state court judges more to your liking? They may be “lazy, corrupt” but at least they are not “unaccountable.” Thanks for sharing your views. All my best

  23. Judge Bennett,

    I noticed that you took the Fifth with respect to Cardozo’s question. Any system that would allow a result like that is in desperate need of reform.

    As for me, it depends on the State. In Missouri Plan states, judges are political hacks chosen in back rooms, the only election is a retention election (over 98% are re-elected by an ignorant electorate), and even if you get a bad judge out of office, s/he is often replaced by an equally bad one. Judicial discipline is as feckless as it is in federal courts, and the judges are immune from tort liability. As a predictable result, the situation is often worse than it is in federal courts.

    Competitive judicial elections create another set of problems, but at least, a judge could be held accountable for a decision like the one BinB relates. Imagine if a judge had to defend that one against a viable opponent.

    As for me, I would definitely prefer being judged anywhere in the Commonwealth. It is better to have Parliamentary supremacy than judicial supremacy in a non-gerrymandered government, as politicians have to stand for election.

    As long as judges can’t be removed from office for cause or otherwise held liable for acts of willful misconduct, there will be no liberty.

    Thanks for engaging on what must be an uncomfortable topic for you.

  24. Give me a jury, and I can work around even the worst judge. But as you said yourself, federal judges are almost allergic to trials.

    I still want to know if there is any other jurisdiction where a judge can sit in judgment of his own case. I would have said Myanmar, but they can impeach judges for simple misconduct.

    Federal v. State? I have nothing to add to LD’s brutal analysis.

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