Mimesis Law
20 April 2019

New Nebraska Judge Bob Rossiter Confirmed (Paperwork To Follow)

June 29, 2016 (Fault Lines) — I have written before at Fault Lines about what a wonderful federal district judge Bob Rossiter would be for the District of Nebraska.  On Monday, June 27, 2016, at about 6:15 p.m. Eastern Time, Bob was confirmed 90 to 0 by the Senate.

It took the Senate only two hours and 16 minutes (snark intended) to do so.  Most of the time was taken up by procedural stuff—quorum calls and a roll call vote.  But Senator Deb Fisher (NE) (bless her heart) spoke in favor of Bob.  Senator Leahy of the Judiciary Committee did not oppose Bob, but made it clear that he was mad as hell:

Senate Democrats have leapt on the Republican blockade as an opportunity to tie leadership to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in the hopes of taking back the Senate in the fall elections, consistently repeating in speeches and press conferences some variation of the phrase “do your job.”

Before the Rossiter vote on Monday afternoon, Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, took his turn blasting his Republican colleagues for leaving Obama’s nominees “languishing on the Senate floor.”

“These are men and women who are prepared to do their job if we give them a vote,” Leahy said on the floor. “What they can’t understand, the American people can’t understand, is why won’t the Senate Republican leadership let us do our job? After all, we’re paid for it.”

Courthouse News Service (Monday, June 27, 2016, Last Update: 3:44 PM PT)

Can you imagine watching CSPAN-2 for more than two hours while you’re life hangs in the balance?  I can’t either, but if you decide to see a part of the spectacle, you can find it here

I wonder whether Bob has stopped vomiting from the anxiety.  After all, he only had to wait more than a year to have his entirely non-controversial nomination voted upon by a roll call on the Senate floor.  By that time, our court faced a “judicial emergency” because we were without one-third of our judge-power for over 18 months.

In fact, nearly three years have passed since Judge Joe Bataillon told the world he intended to take senior status. Still further, Bob had to wait for nearly two year before his floor vote, even though both Nebraska Senators had recommended Bob to President Obama in August of 2014.

Time passes slowly when you are in prison or considered for the position of a federal district judge.  Note that such judges serve the equivalent of the TTT of the federal judiciary.

Anyway, I thought Fault Lines readers might be interested to know that much paperwork must follow and be completed after a favorable confirmation vote on the floor of the Senate. In other words, a floor vote does not make confirmation a done deal.

clip_image002

The first thing that must happen is that the Senate Secretary must formally inform the White House.  Here’s what such formal notification looks like:

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After the White House receives this formal notification, the Attorney General and the President must sign a Commission.  Here is what a Commission looks like:

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Notice that you can’t make out the signature of the Attorney General on my Commission as it has entirely disappeared. William Barr, the Attorney General who signed mine, must have done so in invisible ink—the ultimate CYA.

After the Commission is received, the prospective judge must take an oath.  The oath, typically administered by the Chief Judge, reads something like this:

OathofOffice

After the judge has taken the oath, he or she is officially a United States District Judge.  But danger still lurks in required paperwork.

Although no one tells you, a new judge must also file a financial disclosure statement within 30 days of signing the oath. I failed to do so, and I got a snotty letter informing me of my failure and agreeing to waive the fine if I would immediately comply. That scared the crap out of me, fearing I would be the only district judge to be impeached within a couple of months after being sworn in.  So, I sent the form to Washington, D.C.  As of yet, I have not been impeached.  It is worth noting that you have to file a financial disclosure statement within 5 days of being nominated, so this added requirement seems a bit odd, but what the hell do I know.

By the way, some of you may have attended a new federal judge’s “investiture.”  Such things are entirely phony. I mean almost every judge has already been sworn in before such a ceremony takes place.  So, go ahead and attend but when the new judge dons his or her robe on such an occasion, realize that he or she is likely to have been judging long before all the ceremonial hoopla. Such events are, however, good for those who love the new judge, the new judge’s colleagues and those who wish to suck up. So attend. Pomp and circumstance are harmless affectations.

In short, Bob will in the fullness of time become the Honorable Robert F. Rossiter, Jr., United States District Judge for the District of Nebraska. That assumes, of course, that the paper work gets done.

Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge (Nebraska)

*  Title 28, sec. 456 United States Code as amended.  [The asterisk with citation is included in the form.]

16 Comments on this post.

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  • repenting lawyer
    29 June 2016 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Congratulation to Bob famed student of Ad Law.

    • Richard G. Kopf
      29 June 2016 at 10:13 am - Reply

      repenting lawyer,

      Of course, I agree with the sense of your kind note, but I must observe that “Ad Law” is an oxymoron.

      All the best.

      Rich

  • repenting lawyer
    29 June 2016 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Judge I was referring to the course, the twilight zone of legal education.

    • Richard G. Kopf
      29 June 2016 at 1:22 pm - Reply

      repenting lawyer,

      I agree entirely with the “twilight zone” description. The course gave me the willies.

      All the best.

      RGK

  • TMM
    29 June 2016 at 10:38 am - Reply

    I am happy for the people of Nebraska, but it would be nice if the Senate could get around to confirming some other judges too.

    I guess the good news is that we are down to only one vacancy that dates back to the George W. Bush Administration. But we have eleven vacancies that are more than a year-old that are still waiting on nominations (with another ten that will pass that mark before a new administration takes office in January and twenty that have opened up since then). We have twenty-five nominations from 2015 or earlier that are still pending. Finally, there are thirty-two nominations from this year. I am pessimistic that anything more than a handful of the fifty-seven pending nominations will be resolved before the election (and not sure about the prospects for any lame duck session). Regardless of who wins, I can’t see the new administration getting to vacant judicial positions before April or May.

    All in all, filling vacancies takes too damn long — much longer than the framers anticipated.

  • Mario Machado
    29 June 2016 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Thank you Judge Kopf for another great, enlightening post. It’s another “all access pass” into the inner workings of the federal judiciary.

    Pardon my ignorance, but what do you mean when you refer to U.S. District Judges as the “equivalent of the TTT of the federal judiciary”? (I Googled TTT to try and “get it” but got nada)

    • Richard G. Kopf
      29 June 2016 at 1:15 pm - Reply

      Mario,

      TTT stands for “Third Tier Toilet,” so I am told. I am also told that it is frequently used by law students at certain law schools to describe other law schools with less prestige. I cannot verify the foregoing, but I like the imagery in the context I used “TTT.” In fact, federal trial courts are the lowest of the federal courts.

      All the best.

      RGK

      • Keith
        30 June 2016 at 10:45 am - Reply

        While you are much better off (this site excepted) by not reading the comments, it’s regularly found at ATL and other “legal” sites.

  • Peter Orlowicz
    29 June 2016 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    Perhaps the dual requirements of filing a public financial disclosure within 5 days of being nominated and within 30 days of signing the oath only seems odd when you don’t assume a delay of two years between those events…

    • Richard G. Kopf
      29 June 2016 at 1:18 pm - Reply

      Peter,

      That is a great point. However, since I believe Bob will also have to file an annual report for 2016 by May 15, 2017, it stills seems like overkill. All the best.

      RGK

      • E Hines
        29 June 2016 at 2:23 pm - Reply

        Of course the time passed matters. You might have made significant bucks in hog futures during that delay. What else is a judge nominee to do to earn a living?

        Eric Hines

        • Richard G. Kopf
          29 June 2016 at 4:04 pm - Reply

          E,

          If a lawyer played the futures waiting for a confirmation hearing, the lawyer would be broke unless the lawyer could place a hedge on the confirmation date.
          All the best.

          RGK

  • losingtrader
    29 June 2016 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Judge, are you sure William Barr didn’t just have a better grasp of Dunning -Kruger than others?

    • Richard G. Kopf
      29 June 2016 at 2:06 pm - Reply

      losingtrader,

      No.*

      All the best to you and B.

      Rich

      *The rather more interesting question is on which side his “better grasp” falls. Was it the result of internal illusion in the unskilled or the external misperception in the skilled?

  • Jeff Gamso
    29 June 2016 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    I remember well as we all stood around our friend (and my then partner, now District Judge) Jeff Helmick’s office with him and watched the Senate debate and then confirm him. (And, of course, we saw Chuck Grassley’s phone went off while he was urging a vote against.)

    I don’t know that his life was really hanging in the balance, but there was certainly a round of cheers when the tally got to 51 votes.

    What I really remember, though, was the months and months and months and months and months when Obama dithered (or so it seemed) about making the nomination and then the Judiciary Committee didn’t hold hearings and then the Senate didn’t get around to a vote. That was the agony – for Jeff, his family, and (dare I say?) his friends.

    • Richard G. Kopf
      29 June 2016 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      Jeff,

      Perhaps I should have said something about waterboarding instead of writing about a life in the balance. All the best.

      Rich Kopf