November 2017

Retirement: Lyle E. Strom

Judge Lyle E. Strom, U.S. District Judge for Nebraska, retired on December 1, 2017, at the age of 92, after 32 years with the Court.
Judge Strom was born in Omaha in 1925. During World War II he served as an Ensign in the U.S. Merchant Marines from 1943 to 1946. Following his military service, he graduated from Creighton University with his B.A. in 1950 and his J.D., cum laude, in 1953.
He spent the next 32 years practicing law at the Omaha law firm Fitzgerald, Hamer, Brown and Leahy (now Fitzgerald, Schorr, Barmettler & Brennan), where he became partner and one of the most highly regarded civil trial lawyers in Nebraska.
In 1985 President Reagan appointed Strom as U.S. District Judge for the District of Nebraska. He served as Chief Judge from 1987 to 1994, and assumed senior status the following year, in 1995.
Judge Strom’s legacy is one of “unparalleled” service to the court, bar, legal education system, and community. He is known for leading by example in promoting “collegiality, civility, professionalism, and good humor.” He was among the first federal judges to cite racial disparity when he departed downward from the federal sentencing guidelines in 1993, and he testified before Congress in favor of an amendment proposed by the Sentencing Commission to lower crack penalties.
Judge Strom served as chair of the Gender Fairness Task Force for the Eighth Circuit, as co-chair of the Federal Practice Committee of the District of Nebraska, and as a member of the Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference Committee to Study Restructuring of the Judicial Conference.
He served as president of the Omaha Bar Association and Nebraska State Bar Association (NSBA) and as a member of the NSBA House of Delegates and the Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Practice and Procedure. He has written Nebraska Jury Instructions, Nebraska Rules of Evidence, and law review articles. He is a fellow of the Nebraska Bar Foundation and has served on its Board of Trustees. He also had a key role in establishing Nebraska’s Inns of Court.
Judge Strom has served as teacher and mentor to many, including our own Judge William Jay Riley, during their years together at the Fitzgerald law firm. He taught at Creighton University School of Law as an adjunct professor, teaching municipal corporations from 1958 to 1970 and trial practice from 1974 to 1995. He served as the Director of the Robert M. Spire Internship Program and Clinical Professor of Law from 1996 to 2005. He participated in the National High School Mock Trial Program and Nebraska’s High School Mock Trial Competition, which ultimately was named the Judge Lyle Strom High School Mock Trial Championship.
Among his recognitions are the Eighth Circuit Professionalism Award, American Inns of Court, 2001; Lifetime Achievement Award, Omaha Bar Association, Law Day, 2002; George H. Turner Award, Nebraska State Bar Association, 2006; Golden Gavel Award, National High School Mock Trial Championship, 2014; and the President’s Professionalism Award, Nebraska State Bar Association, 2014. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and the American College of Trial Lawyers.