Thursday, July 15, 2010

Judges Series: Chief Judge William Riley

Although William Jay Riley has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit since 2001, and as its chief judge since 2010, he is a trial attorney at heart.  Before joining the bench, Chief Judge Riley was a trial attorney for twenty-eight years at Fitzgerald, Schorr, Barmettler & Brennan in Omaha, and headed that firm's litigation group.  He has been associated with various trial-related organizations: the National Board of Trial Advocacy (board-certified civil trial specialist), American College of Trial Lawyers (fellow and state committee chair), and American Board of Trial Advocates (member and state chapter president).  Also, Riley currently teaches trial practice as an adjunct professor at both the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Creighton Law Schools.  See bios here, here, and here.  Other items of note:

Nominated to the Eighth Circuit by George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

Born 1947 in Lincoln, Nebraska and grew up there.

Graduated from the University of Nebraska, both college (Phi Beta Kappa) and law school (Order of the Coif; editor-in-chief of the law review).

Clerked for Eighth Circuit judge Donald Lay, who encouraged Riley to become a trial attorney.

Practiced law mainly "in business litigation, product liability, insurance defense, and personal injury suits."

Served in various positions with the Omaha and Nebraska Bar Associations.

Received awards from the Boy Scouts of America and heavily involved with the organization as a member of its Mid-America Council Board of Trustees, scoutmaster for a decade, and in other roles (e.g., mentor to first-time teenage criminal offenders).

Maintains chambers in Omaha, Nebraska.

Appointed by Chief Justices Rehnquist and Roberts to the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on Criminal Law.

Commended by the Arkansas Legislature in 2009 "for his contributions to the legal profession."